The Conservative Reformed Mafia. This little title was originally intended as an insult. A few years ago, several of us supposedly “infiltrated” an emerging Christian, left-of-center message board. We didn’t see it as an infiltration. We were and are still genuinely interested in the discussion that takes place at this site but it turned out that we were noticeably more conservative than the typical members there. Long story short, we’re not insulted by the name at all but have owned it and have decided to have fun with it! This probably isn’t how we’d choose to describe ourselves but there’s no denying that this is how we are perceived by some. So why deny it?
Politically-speaking, we find the “conservative-liberal” and “right-left” labels to not be as useful as they may have been at one time. These aren’t very helpful dichotomies. But if we had to describe ourselves as either liberal or conservative, well, we’d gladly settle for the conservative label. On the other hand, if you think we’re your average evangelical right-wingers, you’d be wrong. Hopefully this will become apparent as we continue to write here.
As far as “Reformed” goes, let me state up front that we acknowledge that there is a difference between Reformed in the more technical, classical sense and Reformed as it is popularly used today. Some folks get a little touchy when you call yourself “Reformed” but you’re not using it in the classical sense. I can appreciate that. As a group, we are Reformed in the more popular sense. Individually, some of us proudly affirm the classic solas, important creeds of the Reformed tradition, the traditional 5-point description of Calvinism, and believe that the doctrines of grace reflect the heart of the Gospel. Others here may be Calvinistic and wonder why all the cool kids are throwing around so many Latin phrases today. So let me say up front that this blog as a whole uses both “conservative” and “Reformed” loosely. Think of that as you will.
As far as “Mafia” goes, we’ll leave that for you to decide. We certainly aren’t intending for this to be a “battle blog” despite the tough-sounding name and graphics. We hope you’ll find our posts and the related discussions in the comments section to reflect substantive, reflective, appraising, Christ-honoring thought. We intend to discuss issues in a graceful, respectful, loving, Christ-honoring manner. We believe that difficult, even controversial, issues can be addressed without the flame-wars, mockery, and insults that are so-often seen around the Godblogosphere today. This doesn’t mean that we intend to avoid tough issues. We just want to approach them in the spirit of John 13:35.
For the most part, we are, as the website says, “Friends of Missional.” Yes, missional has become a fad to some degree but we welcome the wave of attention that is being given to what is in some ways another expression of our tradition’s heart for missions. But missional is not just another term for missions. “Missional” is understood to be a reflection of the heart of the Father, who sent the Son, who has sent the Spirit, who sends the people of God to proclaim and even embody the divine excellencies of God so that all peoples may worship Him. Being missional is more than having a heart for “missions,” but is rather the essence of what it means to be a Christ-follower.
We acknowledge that American evangelicalism is currently unhealthy in some areas (has this ever not been true of any branch of Christianity?) but we don’t want to complain about it all the time. Let’s diagnose but let’s also talk about solutions and do something about it. There are areas of ministry and doctrine that we can and, at some points, must re-address (“always reformed, always reforming,” right?). However, unlike some of our emerging brethren, we don’t think that we necessarily have to abandon the institutional church, conservatism (whether theological or political), traditional orthodoxy, the Reformed tradition, or evangelicalism to address the challenges the Church faces during this time in history. We are, as one pastor recently put it, “reformational not just reformed.” On the other hand, a couple contributors here have embraced the label “emerging” (or don’t feel comfortable with any label right now) and have no problem leaving the institutional church behind. So we’re a little more difficult to label than our name suggests but, that’s OK, most labels aren’t extemely helpful anyway.
What we all have in common here is that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. We strive to love God and others as ourselves as Christ taught us. We want Christ to use us to establish His kingdom as we eagerly await His return. The Nicene Creed (among others, of course) is our friend. And, oh yeah, we like to have fun. As I said, this is not a battle blog and we’re not trying to enter the Godblog wars. Hopefully you’ll find here a satisfying mix of serious thinking, engaging discussion, light-hearted humor, and realistic perspectives based on our experiences and studies. Maybe we’ll go ahead and throw down once in a while just to keep each other straight.
Welcome to our blog. We hope you’ll stick around and share in the discussion in our comments section.
Here comes the Mafia!