The Inward Man’s Delight
This article is the first in the series “The Inward Man’s Delight” by Christian Herring and Konrad Holden. The purpose of The Inward Man’s Delight is to declare the benefits and joys of Reformed piety and practice. This particular article is written by Christian Herring.
I’ve just recently finished up a year-long series on what it means to be confessionally reformed (you can read those articles and more here). Over this year, I’ve moved to an attitude of having more care for the practical side of reformed theology than the strictly doctrinal side. Let me take you on a journey through my personal reform.
In 2014, I began listening to a podcast called Bad Christian. This podcast was produced by members of the band Emery. I listened to Emery quite a bit when I was younger and I enjoyed podcasts so I decided to check it out. It turns out, the things discussed on this podcast were things I identified with.
One focus is how the modern church is more legalistic than spiritual. People have become more concerned with how you dressed, what you drank, and what kind of music you listened to than what doctrines and practices you held. This was a frustration for me, because I was seeking for a deeper understanding of the Christian faith but was not finding it in the churches I was familiar with. It was good to hear that there were other people struggling with this issue. The hosts of Bad Christian discussed the issue, but didn’t offer a solution to the problem, unfortunately.
On episode 57 of the Bad Christian podcast, two guests were welcomed to the show. Les and Tanner from the Reformed Pubcast spoke about how they experienced the same shallowness of spirituality, but they offered a solution. They spoke about Calvinism and reformed doctrines, and presented them in such a way that was very logical and exegetical. This sparked my interest and I began listening to their show while I studied Calvinism.
I remember the exact moment that I came to terms with all five points of Calvinism and knew them to be true. I felt as if my eyes were open to whole new depths of Christianity. This was the intellectually and spiritually engaging side of faith that my heart was yearning for, even if my head wasn’t aware of it. I had never even heard a presentation of what Calvinism was, good or bad, up to this point.
Since my first exposure to Calvinism was through a reformed presentation, I immediately began studying the reformed confessions. I was a credobaptist, so I started with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. I had never read such a presentation of the Christian faith. I believed many of the doctrines already but had not really considered them in depth. I spent almost all of my free time reading, studying, and listening to reformed subject material.
I was involved in the facebook group associated with the Reformed Pubcast, the Reformed Pub, and I participated in discussions between different positions within the reformed tradition. This was the first exposure I had to things like Presbyterianism, psalm singing, family worship, Sabbath-keeping, and others.
Upon first exposure, these things are somewhat intimidating, as they are usually a big departure from the practice most people are used to. I didn’t understand the almost visceral reaction by some people to these things. Since I had been exposed to a new side of faith that I wasn’t aware of, and I felt that what I was learning was spiritually impactful, I wanted to seek more of that. I wanted to continue to learn more about what could draw me closer to the knowledge of the God I loved. By the second half of 2015, I had become confessional and had begun studying the differences between the Reformed Baptist standards and the Presbyterian standards.
By the end of 2015 and going into 2016, I had come to hold many of the positions I was intrigued by. I confessed the Westminster Standards, and had begun to practice psalm singing and Sabbath keeping. It was easy for me to accept these things intellectually, but it was hard for me to put them in practice. This was especially difficult in leading my wife and maintaining submission to the elders in my credobaptist church.
As a Presbyterian, one thing I had come to have much more of an appreciation for was the importance of the local church and relationship with the officers of the church. I had begun discussion with the elders in my credobaptist church about the things I was studying. As my spiritual convictions changed, it was becoming difficult for me to maintain unity with my church, which was doing things I thought were not correct.
I felt that singing the psalms should have a prominent, if not exclusive, place in our sung worship. My church at the time did not practice psalm singing at all. I was also convinced that Presbyterian church government is the God-given direction for church government. I was starting to consider changing churches, which I had not done in the past because of theological convictions. I had changed churches because of moving, but not because of conviction. I had to begin considering how to do this while guarding the heart of my wife and remaining respectful to my elders.
I decided to visit a local presbyterian church. I was able to sing psalms with other believers, and was able to hear explicit reformed preaching. This was such a comfort to my soul, and I felt like this was home. I went to my elders and told them I was considering leaving the church.
I expressed my desire to be respectful and told them that I loved them as my spiritual authority, I just could not in good conscience keep attending the church. They were understanding, and encouraged me in my future walk. I spoke with the elders at my new church and my wife and I went through the membership process.
HOLINESS IN PRACTICE
Last year, my wife and I found out that we are having a son. This has moved me to considering more of a practical application of reformed theology in order to lead my family in things that are pleasing to God. I have made an effort to be consistent in family worship, and my wife has told me that she has had more of a desire to know reformed teaching through these discussions than when I was just trying to tell her what I believe and what we need to do.
I truly believe at this point that while we should know good theology, that knowledge shouldn’t be used to debate everyone, but should be used to draw us closer to our Lord through keeping his commands. Every theological position we hold should drive us to a deeper connection to God in worship. This is the joy we have as believers. This is the delight that we have in obeying our Lord and Savior.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
— John 15:10 (KJV)
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”
— Romans 7:22 (KJV)