Reformed Chrysanthemum


I’ve told my friends more than once that there is a lot more to being Reformed than just believing the (in)famous Five Points of Calvinism, i.e. TULIP. That’s a Calvinistic (or more properly, a Dortian, i.e. the Synod of Dort) understanding of salvation. The Reformed expression of the whole Christian faith and practice has something more like a dozen points. So my friends challenged me to come up with a flower acronym.

Behold, the thirteen petals of the Reformed Chrysanthemum!

Chalcedonian Christology
Hermeneutical covenantalism
Regulative principle of worship
Yahweh’s glory above all is the goal
Sovereignty of God in all things
Asymmetrical double-predestination
Niceno-Constantinopalitan Trinitarianism
Territorial interconnectedness of churches
Historical confessionalism
Ecclesiastical distinctives
Monergistic regeneration
Unio Mystica with Christ unto Duplex Gratia
Munus Triplex of Christ

Chalcedonian Christology: This refers to the orthodox doctrine of the hypostatic union of Christ, that he consists in two distinct natures or essences (those of God and Man) which are unified in one person or subsistence (that of God the Son) as it was defined by the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451.

Hermeneutical covenantalism: This refers to the organized understanding of God’s revelation in Scripture according to an overarching historical architecture structured by covenant(s) — a series of particular historical covenants ordered and administered according to two systematic ‘covenants’ or principles of justification and eternal life, i.e. the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

Regulative principle of worship: This refers to the rule governing the public worship of God. It states that all of the elements of public worship must be those commanded by God and only that which is commanded. It is not merely the normative principle by which only what is prohibited by God is omitted from public worship. There must be imperative warrant for what is done in public worship. It is adding nothing to what God commands and taking nothing away from what God commands.

Yahweh’s glory above all is the goal: This is basically the Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory) of the Protestant Reformation. The Trinitarian God created all things to glorify himself as the Son and Spirit prepare a holy people to worship the Father, the Father and the Spirit prepare a glorious bride for the Son, and the Father and the Son prepare a living temple for the Spirit. All of this is through God showing the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy and enduring vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.

Sovereignty of God in all things: This refers to God’s absolute liberty and ability to do whatever he pleases according to his own perfect counsel. God has foreordained and providentially oversees all things to his own glory.

Asymmetrical double-predestination: This refers to the dissimilarity between the two ways in which God appointed the dual eternal destinies of two groups of people out of fallen humanity. From this mass of human sin, he chose to actively intervene (the act of election) and redeem one group of sinners from his condemnation of them for their sin, and he chose to passively refrain from intervening (the act of preterition) on behalf of the other group of sinners, consigning them to his righteous condemnation of them for their sin as they continue sinning against him for eternity.

Niceno-Constantinopalitan Trinitarianism: This refers to the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity as one divine nature or essence consisting in three divine persons or subsistences as it was first articulated at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 and finalized at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381.

Territorial interconnectedness of churches: This refers to the formation of regional presbyteries and general assemblies to bring accountability to the ordained officers of individual local churches and aid to their congregations.

Historical confessionalism: This refers to the preservation of pure doctrine found in the Scriptures through the use of secondary standards to which the ordained officers of the church and the local congregations commit themselves.

Ecclesiastical distinctives: This refers to the defining marks of a true church. Though they can be parsed in various ways, they consist of proper preaching of the Scriptures, proper administration of the Sacraments, proper ordination of the officers, and proper discipline of the congregants. The Word is preached. The Water is poured. The Bread is eaten. The Wine is drank. The Flock is tended.

Monergistic regeneration: This refers to the unilateral work of God (monos meaning ‘one’ + ergos meaning ‘work’) in bringing about the new birth and saving his elect from first to last. All of our salvation is the work of the Lord from beginning to end — God working for us and God working in us. God providing for us all that he requires of us.

Unio Mystica with Christ unto Duplex Gratia: These are Latin expressions referring to the mystical union of the elect with Christ unto his twofold grace, that of justification and sanctification. Union with Christ through the Spirit is the organizing principle of the Reformed doctrine of salvation.

Munus Triplex of Christ: This is a Latin expression for the threefold office of Christ. As Christ or Messiah, i.e. the Anointed One, our Lord Jesus holds all three of the divinely anointed offices seen in Holy Scripture, those of Prophet, Priest, and King. Reformed theologians finds these categories generally more useful than the modern Evangelical twofold office of Savior and Lord.

The Five Points of the TULIP and the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation are all in there somewhere or are otherwise implied. Maybe I’d better figure out how to make a STEM or some POLLEN out of what’s left.