Why am I criticizing the Reformation and calling myself a Proto-Protestant?
Something of an explanation…an account of my journey, where I'm coming from and why I'm saying all these strange things…..
I was raised politically conservative, taught to believe in Christian America, and accepted certain ideas and values as interchangeably Christian and American. Not until I was converted as a young adult and started reading my Bible did I begin to question these assumptions.
Becoming Reformed early I devoured Calvin, Puritans, and other Reformed writings, turned Hyper-Calvinist for awhile, following the normal course of ideological pendulum swings. Much of this formation occurred while in geographic isolation from Reformed congregations. I and the few others I knew of like mind were not able to interact much with other Reformed people…instead we had books. We had Calvin, Iain Murray, Lloyd-Jones etc…. Then coming into contact with certain ideas I began a process over the course of perhaps five years where I underwent a transformation that is secondary only to my conversion to Christianity. I had to re-think everything I had been taught as an American.
One aspect of this was in terms of doctrinal method and range of concepts….logic and philosophy. Not that I loved and yearned for reading those sorts of things… I don't necessarily…..but I and some close friends began to see that some of our ideas were not without historical precedent…few things are. Others had wrestled with some of these same issues. And I realized the 20th century Reformed World was not the Reformed World I had learned about while in isolation. There were differences in how people understood and applied the doctrines of the Confessions. They seemed unfamiliar with a lot of things I took to be quite important. They were steeped in tradition, and Aristotelian methods of reading and understanding the Bible were the norm. I was quite disappointed and discouraged when I returned to the United States and began to interact with the Reformed scene.
Also, spending so much time immersed in history combined with living overseas, the United States I came back to was not the same one I had left. Or rather I was not the same. I began to see things very clearly. I'm speaking of some of the assumptions I mentioned at the beginning. I began to see the faulty logic, bad historical sense, and bad doctrinal basis for so many things held so dearly by so many. But I didn't know where to go with it. Certain questions vexed me. Why was there so much devotion to cultural transformation? Why so much emphasis on this civilizational aspect of Christianity? It wasn't in the Bible.