A Distinctive World and Life Perspective

June 20, 2016
This week we have asked leaders from Reformed denominations five questions. Each day this week we will feature one of these denominations, starting today with the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Return to iAt through the week to read more from leaders in the church.

1. What do you see as the largest challenge for the Reformed community in the coming decade?

A significant challenge in the coming decade is to continue to claim with confidence and boldness the Lordship of Christ in all things. As society has become more and more closed to Christian voices, we may become more reclusive, more willing to put up walls between Sunday and the rest of the week, and more accommodating to the culture around us. We must resist the tendency to retreat or accommodate and, instead, seek to be more strategic, always proclaiming the good news to those who do not yet know God and to a broken and hurting world sorely in need of transformation.

  1. How do you see ecumenism balancing with denominationalism in the coming decade? Do both have a place in an ideal world?

We run two risks. First, that our ecumenical goals would have us retreat from distinctives. And second, that denominationalism would turn us inward in pursuit of self-survival. We avoid these risks if we balance ecumenism with identity. More specifically, we each need to know who we are—the histories that have shaped us, the theological distinctives that characterize us, and the ministry priorities with which the Spirit captivates us. Then we can link arms with other believers so that together we can counter the world’s misconceptions of us as lacking in unity, majoring in minors, etc. and call the world to new life in Christ.

  1. If you could set one goal for your denomination to attain in the next decade, what would it be?

To grow disciples, resulting in the growth and addition of congregations, thereby expanding our witness to a needy and secular world.

  1. What does it mean to be Reformed? Is this different than being “Reformational?” What is more important?

For the CRCNA, being Reformed has included a number of dimensions: a specific theology, a unique form of church order, and a distinctive world and life perspective, all rooted in the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, and a call for engagement in every square inch of God’s world.

While the root of reformational is the same as reformed, reformational draws into its meaning the drama and urgency of a time in history – the Reformation – and, as such, might be used to signal a pioneering or almost radical approach to being Reformed.

  1. How should the church balance the tension of living in the already and the not yet?

This isn’t a new tension; it’s a tension that believers have experienced since the ascension. Early Christians often made the mistake of the thinking that Christ’s return was just moments away. Today, we err in a couple of ways. One is that we are so present-oriented, that we fail to grasp the vision of a new heaven and earth and, when we lose sight of this vision, we become mired in the present, broken reality and act as if God is impotent. Another way is to give up on the present, and focus too much on the “when we all get to heaven.”

About the Author
  • Steven Timmermans, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and also serves the denomination as a commissioned pastor.  Prior to coming to the CRCNA, he served as President of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois.  He is married to Barbara Timmermans, Ph.D., a nursing professor at Calvin College; together they enjoy their 7 adult children and three son-in-laws.

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