Reformed theology has been growing in popularity. More and more churches and pastors are applying the term to themselves. Like Junior says to Pappy, “people like that reform. Maybe we should get us some.”
Consequently I’ve noticed that people often come to hear of Reformed theology through some popular preacher or author who has embraced the designation. But not always are those who apply the term to themselves actually Reformed.
So what is a Reformed theologian?
I contend, quite simply, that a Reformed theologian is an advocate of system of belief contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith or that of the Three Forms of Unity. With that simple—and I believe historical—definition, Reformed theologians are easily identified.
Who then is a Reformed theologian? There are many. Some of my favorites include John Calvin, William Hendriksen, Gordon Clark, Herman Hoeksema, J. Gresham Machen, David Engelsma, Jerome Zanchius, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof, Robert Reymond, John Gerstner, and R. C. Sproul.
Who then is not a Reformed theologian? Some who are not Reformed but sometimes said to be include John MacArthur, John Piper, Douglas Wilson, and Karl Barth. I’ve even seen people claim the term “Reformed” for such non-Reformed persons as James K. A. Smith and Ravi Zacharias! All of these persons make for quite deceptive uses of the term. No Reformed theologian would embrace their Federal Vision, neo-orthodoxy, or charismania. Why do some persons then apply the term “Reformed” to these men? A hallmark of false teachers is obfuscation.