Where We’ve Been: A Two-Year Retrospective

Photo by Hector Laborde on Unsplash

Earlier this month, Reformed Margins passed a milestone.

Our site had a birthday! We are now two years old.

A lot has happened at RM over the last couple of years.

We’ve made some people mad.

We’ve encouraged others.

Some of our contributors have celebrated marriages, births, and job changes.

And we’ve also mourned together.

It’s been a full two years and I thought I’d celebrate by looking at the five most viewed posts in our short history.

Before I do, I want to express again my thanks to Andrew, Faith, Joe, Bryant, Grace, David, Eunjin, and Mark. Without your voices and gifts, RM would have fallen apart a long time ago.

5. The Day I Saw Jesus

Reformed Margins has always been committed to amplifying the stories of ethnic minorities who have somehow found their way to the Reformed tradition. But tradition is worthless if we don’t first find Christ and the salvation available to us in him. This was the first article that got widely read and it has blessed many people. We are all ambassadors of Christ, representing him to the world around us. Mark Jeong fleshes this out in personal and helpful ways.

My pastor was a man who embodied the pattern of Christ’s death and resurrection in his life and ministry. I saw Jesus that day in the way he sacrificially extended fatherly care for me at a time when I had no father. Through this act and many more, I came to see my Heavenly Father who says, “I will never leave you.”

4. For the Christian Perfectionist

At the end of 2016, Faith Chang and Joe Kim came on board and immediately blessed our readers with thoughtful articles that have introduced challenging new categories (Holy chutzpah, for example) and spoke to the struggles of everyday Christians. Speaking to the heart and the mind is a distinctive aim of ours at Reformed Margins. In this article, Faith touched on a challenge many Christians face daily.

Beloved, our God is not only perfect in his standards, but in his love, and he wants us to know who he really is. He is far more patient, pleased, and gracious than we may have made him out to be. And as our image of him is conformed to how he has revealed himself in his Word, his perfect love is able to drive away all fear, including the fear of not measuring up. We may be struggling, weak, ashamed, and afraid. But our Father’s love can free us from our perfectionism that we may obey him freely and joyfully in his perfect peace.

3. To the Reformed World: Minorities Are Here to Stay

The Reformed tradition is undergoing some growing pains right now as more and more ethnic minorities enter the fold through the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, and other denominations. Most have celebrated the growth of the tradition through the inclusion of new voices, but others have resisted and seem willing to welcome minorities as long as they don’t touch anything when they get here. Spurred on by some unfortunate comments by apologist James White, this article stressed that the inclusion of ethnic minorities requires the inclusion of worldviews, experiences, and opinions that will challenge and reform the Reformed tradition.

Well, those days are gone. Good riddance. Minorities are here and are demanding a fair hearing. Of course, we are passionate about many of the same things as our white brothers and sisters. We want to see the sovereignty of God declared authoritatively from pulpits in all churches. We want people to recognize the beauty of a God who saves by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. We want people to have a high regard for Scripture and an appreciation for the deep things of God. But we also want people to realize that the Gospel continues beyond Ephesians 2:10 and forces us to embrace the very racial lenses White denounces in order to display the Kingdom of God to a broken world.

2. Why Most Chinese American Christians are Conservative Evangelicals

One of the best kept secrets of Reformed Margins is that a couple of our writers are full-blown scholars. Eunjin Kim is in the midst of PhD studies in Church History, and Andrew Ong is working on a PhD dissertation that focuses on the Chinese American Church. Because of this, RM has been privileged to publish some really interesting articles at the cutting edge of scholarly discussions (though our articles may not be academic in form or content). This article is an example of the scholarly insight and accessible writing that we’ve come to expect from Andrew Ong as he reflects on the Chinese American Church.

The question I want to explore is: “Why is Jeremy Lin a conservative evangelical?” Or more broadly: “Why are most Chinese American Christians, today, conservative evangelicals?” In other words, why have Chinese American Christians overwhelmingly embraced the authority of Scripture and such doctrines as inerrancy? Why have they insisted so strongly that Jesus is the only way of salvation? And why have they prioritized evangelism over social justice in their missions?

Some might say that it’s just because Chinese American Christians simply believe what the Bible says and share its “eternal perspective.” I think the answer is more nuanced.

1. “Sweet Emily, Talitha Cumi”

Early in the life of Reformed Margins, we were introduced to a brave and beautiful little girl named Emily Choi. Her spirit was full of joy and her faith motivated all of us to follow Christ more closely.

But Emily was sick. Very sick.

We prayed together for healing. For a miracle. For mercy.

When Emily died we were all heartbroken. Heartbroken that a little light had been taken. Heartbroken for her parents who are living a horror most of us can’t imagine. Heartbroken that death and disease affect so many everyday.

The power of Emily’s short life is reflected in the response to this article Andrew wrote in her honor. So many people loved Emily so deeply that the site crashed. Thousands read and continue to read.

I think so many people were touched by Andrew’s article because he reminded us that our prayer was answered. While Emily’s body finally succumbed to sickness, she is free from disease today and will one day rise again in a perfect, cancer-free body. Jesus has rescued her from death and carried her into his presence, an amazing act of surpassing mercy. Only a God like ours can do something as miraculous as that.

I hesitate to share all this because, unlike Jairus’ little princess, Tina and Aaron’s has not (yet) woken up. Still, the good news of Jesus Christ is that I can insert “yet” into the previous sentence. The good news of Jesus Christ is that his whisper, “Talitha cumi” (“Princess, Little Lamb, it’s time to get up, sweetheart”), extends to Emily’s ear as well. Her hand is held tightly as her heavenly Father, whispers sweetly into her ear. She will awake. She will arise. Jesus wakes us from all our nightmares. Soon and very soon.

Until the final Talitha Cumi, keep singing, Sweet Emily.

Marcos Ortega

Marcos Ortega (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is an Assistant Pastor at Goodwill Church (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and lives in the Hudson River Valley in New York with his wife and two daughters.

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