On the Road toward Reformation

Stan Way
Saturday, February 28th 2015
Mar/Apr 2015

In this interview, Michael Horton talks with Stan Way, pastor of Corner­stone Christian Church in Medford, Oregon, about his journey from classic Pentecostalism to an understanding of reformational Christianity.

Tell us your background and how you came to understand the gospel in a clearer way.
I was raised in a Pentecostal home’classic Pentecostalism, third generation. We attended church regularly. I became ordained with the Assemblies of God in 1968. It was through a course of people coming through my life who had a clearer understanding of the gospel, people with a Reformed point of view. This took a long period, but it seems like the Lord planted very specific, very important people in my life to challenge and stretch me in my theological thinking. And so over a slow journey, I've come to a place now where I understand the distinctives and the doctrines of grace, which we're preaching. The staff here at Cornerstone was on a similar journey’probably the last five years have been the most dramatic in seeing things really become clear. As a staff, we've worked through the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort and the Heidelberg Catechism. Now we're in the Westminster Confession.

And people are still coming.
Yes. We've had our losses, but the last two years have been probably the most difficult in that we've made changes in our structuring of worship, our approach to the music, and things of that sort. This has probably been the most delicate part of the process. But I think we are now well on our way through this, and the church is building again.

Coming from a Pentecostal charismatic background, knowing that world a lot better than we do, in what ways do you see even good things like the gifts of the Spirit taking the place of Christ and him crucified?
As I reflect back and look through a new lens with a better understanding of the gospel and what Christ has done, and our call as pastors to declare that good news, I realize that in those circles, there was a conviction that if I could capture the imagination and the attention of people through the miraculous and the supernatural, then perhaps I could get the gospel to them. Then they would be so taken with these phenomenal things, they would be more open to hearing the message of Christ. It's easy to become preoccupied with that. If it's happening in your church, you could attract a large crowd. And, of course, the way you get people is the way you keep them’so you have to keep it going. As a result, you end up focusing more on the spectacular manifestations than on just the healthy proclamation of the good news. You get this sense that things are really happening, because as long as the miracles are happening, people are there.

So what happens when people get around to talking about Christ and the cross, the atonement, the gospel? Do they’along with the five thousand who followed Jesus after the free lunch’ask for more miracles, not this hard teaching?
Yes, absolutely. I think the problem was that I didn't have a full understanding of the gospel, so I couldn't even preach it. I think as you grow, and you become exposed to historic views, your heart and mind become captivated. So then you begin to preach that and preach it with passion and conviction. You find that those who stay, and to whom God speaks, come into a richer relationship with the Lord. It's just healthier.

In your ministry, have you seen people who were attached to the signs and wonders come to a deeper understanding of the gospel and become excited about it, not the new thing around the corner?
Yes. I would say it's a minority, but that's exactly what happens to them’and that is what happened to me. It's certainly not to deny the miraculous, but the miraculous doesn't become the centerpiece. Those whose minds and hearts are captivated by the Lord through the gospel see everything put in its proper place. They are stronger, healthier, and have greater clarity now than ever before.

Saturday, February 28th 2015

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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