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Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints, when is the last time you heard any of those mentioned in a sermon?  How many of your children and young people know what the word, “Tulip” represents in the doctrines of the church?

This is not an indictment; it is more of a survey.  I am not certain how much doctrine and our  theological tradition is emphasized in the church.   I admit readily that as a former church planter in the denomination there was an intentional movement by myself as well as Home Missions (my impression of what I was asked to do by Home Mission) to be more community minded than denominational minded in presenting the church to the community.  Our name did not include “Christian Reformed”, and we did not use the Psalter Hymnal are just a two examples of how we differed from mainline Christian Reformed congregations.  In retrospect, I am  convinced that was not the best choice in planting a church.  I think “be true to yourself” would have been a better strategy in planting the church.  I

Recently my wife and I made a transition.  Because of traveling distance, we transferred from a CRC to a Presbyterian USA congregation.  The worship service is very traditional.  No praise songs, clergy and choir are dressed in robes, and the liturgy is very structured.  All of that is in contrast to community churches that in the Southwest are very informal in their approach to worship.  This congregation has grown ten-fold since we arrived in its neighborhood over ten years ago.  It is filled with young families and an extensive program for children and young adults. 

I have become increasingly convinced that we do not have to forsake our tradition in order to have an impact on our communities.  We have a history that is both worth remembering and teaching as we do ministry.  We are a church well grounded in theological tradition and our worship services, educational programs, Bible Studies, and fellowship should reflect that tradition (we need to scrap “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much” slogans that is devoid of any humor).

So I wonder, “Where Have All the Tulips Gone?”  Or am I wrong, “Tulips” are still growing and we are still teaching and preaching   “Tulips” so they continue to grow in our churches?


I really appreciate and resonate with these reflections. Even though I don't use the TULIP acronym (because I don't think it does a good job of communicating what the Canons of Dordt actually teach) I really find that young adults have a hunger for the Reformed faith that sometimes we find stale or irrelevant. I'm glad to see signs that the tide is turning. I am a product of Home Missions evangelism myself, and it was the depth of the Reformed faith by which God grabbed us and held us.

Good thoughts, thanks Al.  I sometimes wonder if the CRC was (intentionally or not) trying to get away from Reformd/Calvinist distinctives at the same time that so many seemed hungry for Reformed theology.  Incidentally, I've been preaching through the Canons of Dort for the Last few months, and so the answer to your question is that "Tulip" was mentioned by name just two weeks ago... :)  However, I'm with Randy -- there are a number of problems with the acronym TULIP -- not least of which that it does not match well with the Canons themselves.

Thanks for the response.  I agree with your comments about "Tulip" but my real point is, "Are we teaching our confessions to our members both young and old?"  Glad to hear that you are preaching it!

I recently metnioned the Cannons of Dort in a sermon about witnessing (Art 1 pt 3) and our Reformed tradition. Two years ago, I went through a 5 weeks series looking at the Cannons of Dort using the acronym FAITH (Fallen Humanity, Adopted by God, Intentional atonement, Transformed by the Holy Spirit, Held by God). That went over very well.

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