Why a Reformed worldview?
“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.” ― Francis August Schaeffer.
This quote by Francis Schaeffer reveals the importance of having a Christian faith that is also a fully developed worldview. One that provides the principles for living out the Christian faith and the lordship of Christ in the world. Too often Christian leaders have only been concerned with superficially sharing the Gospel in mass crusades and getting people to sign confirmation cards professing a belief in the Christian faith. The newborn believers are then left on their own only to have their faith starve to death since they are never discipled to maturity. The result is Christians with a partially developed worldview that leads to a weakened church body and an anemic faith with no salty influence within the culture. Without the cultural influence of Christians as salt and light in the world, the cultures of the world degenerate morally and chaos results. We see this happening in America today. This nation has been super-saturated with the Gospel and yet Christianity is having little to no impact in our culture. This was the issue Schaeffer was addressing when he spoke of the need for a "total" worldview. A worldview that addresses all facets of life from a biblical perspective.
We chose to focus on a Reformed Covenantal approach to a biblical worldview development. This is because it is more concise and encompassing with regard to developing a holistic worldview. One that addresses all facets of life with specific biblical principles. Using terms like Christian worldview or an evangelical worldview are too nebulously defined to derive the specific principles upon which to establish a holistic worldview. The dominant theology within the evangelical churches is dispensational theology and it does not provide the specific biblical ethics and law principles needed to derive a holistic worldview that addresses all areas of life. This same principle holds true for most of the other theological streams within the evangelical world.
The history of the Christianity reveals that the theology developed out of the Reformed churches in Europe had the most transformational impact on the European people and their cultures. This is especially true with regard to its impact on governments. Reformed theology had a major influence in the development and rise of republic forms of government which limited tyranny and led to an increase of personal liberties. These republic form of governments displaced the previous monarchies that ruled over the people - often in a tyrannical manner. John Calvin and his associates are credited with developing many of the theological principles that had such a profound impact on the transformation of Europe. While Luther lit the match that started the Reformation with his work on salvation theology, Calvin was more focused in understanding how biblical revelation should be used in fulfillment of the Great Commission in which Jesus directed Christians to disciple the nations. Calvinistic Reformed Covenant theology was highly transformational for both the lives of individuals and their surrounding cultures they lived in.
Reformed Covenantal theology was further developed and carried to America by the early Puritan and Pilgrim settlers who first settled here. The early state governments in colonial America reveal a strong influence by Reformed Covenant theology. The early state governments limited political power by establishing republic systems of government with checks and balances. The people chose their leaders who were then in a covenant relation with both God and the people for how they governed. This covenantal pattern of government originated in the Reformed Presbyterian churches. Calvin believed in the fallen nature of mankind taught in the Bible. In light of our fallen nature he taught that all men are sinners capable of the worst behavior as governing tyrants. To prevent this temptation to tyrannical power he taught the need to break up political power. Pastors in a Reformed church could not be entrusted with too much power and had to be restrained by the division of power through a checks and balance system within the Reformed churches. Reformed Covenant theology provided the basic ideas that were later used by our Founders to establish the American republic form of government. According to Ian Speir, "Witherspoon and Madison's Calvinist theology and political philosophy imparted a firm belief that self-interest could be harnessed, ambition checked, and power balanced within government so that liberty and the common good were made secure." . . . every good form of government must be complex, so that the one principle may check the other. . . . They must be so balanced, that when every one draws to his own interest or inclination, there may be an even poise upon the whole. So taught the eighteenth-century clergyman John Witherspoon in his famous Lectures on Moral Philosophy. It was ideas like these—checks and balances, harnessing self-interest for the common good—that launched America on its grand experiment in self-government 230 years ago. (The Calvinist Roots of American Social Order: Calvin, Witherspoon, and Madison)
Reformed covenant theology had a strong impact on individuals because it taught that we have a direct accountability to God for our actions. The result was a personal transformation of the people based on the ethics and moral principles found in the Bible as God's revealed will for our lives. This resulted in a population which was self-governing and highly moral. Big government was not required to keep people in line with the overbearing law since people were generally inclined to follow God's law based on their faith. Government was considered to be a servant of the people, as opposed to being a master of them. This idea was based on the teachings found in Romans 13 in which God places limitations on the government and describes its ministerial role. To make sure this covenant view of government was passed on to future generations a checks and balance system was codified in the laws limiting the powers of the state governments.
The Calvinistic ideas found in Covenant theology provided both the religious and ideological foundation for the American nation's culture and republic form of government. However, these concepts were not limited to America. Calvin believed his role was to disciple and develop leaders to help the church disciple the nations of the world. To attain that end he established the Geneva Academy. Here he trained church world changing leaders, such as John Knox. Knox returned to his native Scotland where he helped to transform that nation into a Christian Protestant nation with what he learned at Geneva. Geneva Academy effectively trained other leaders who took the biblical principles they learned to other parts of Europe. The Academy was so effective in training leaders that Thomas Jefferson actually tried to get it transplanted to the United States (. Hopefully the reader will realize the importance that Reformed Covenant theology played both in the transformation of Europe and the establishment of the United States. We will list and explain many of these principles on this website. We hope Christian leaders in other nations will use these concepts to impact their countries with a holistic Reformed biblical worldview that provides both spiritual liberty to individuals, as well as political liberty to their nations.