It seems to me that the you can tie the on-going identity crisis of Christendom back to how it handles the ministry of the word (particularly as it relates to expositional / exegetical preaching) in proper relationship to the ministry of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper within their proper liturgical contexts).  When these dual “means of grace” are not held in proper proportion and tension within the church, the church becomes distorted.  Consider the possiblities as it relates to our faithfulness to word and sacrament:

High word / low sacrament:  I call this “rationalistic pietism” because it places a primacy on the subjective experience and minds of individuals as they are impacted by the ministry of the word, while giving very short shrift to the efficacy of the sacraments in the context of the church.  I am thinking here of much of the Protestant tradition as manifested by Baptists and many conservative Presbyterians / Methodists / etc…

Low word / low sacrament:  I call this “radical liberalism” because it reduces the church to a social gathering around man-centered principles that are very loosely connected to the word of God or the sacraments.  I am thinking here of much of the Protestant / Roman tradition as manifested by mainline denominations and many post-Vatican II Romanists who are basically relativistic pluralists.

Low word / high sacrament:  I call this “romantic sacerdotalism” because it over-emphasizes a community marked-out by certain mysterious rites without a proper emphasis on individual regeneration through the ministry of the word.  I am thinking here of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

High word / high sacrament:  I call this “redemptive realism” because it is what I believe Reformers like John Calvin were striving for in the Reformation of the church.  The fullest manifestation of the church is when the ministry of the word and the ministry of the sacrament are both held out robustly – emphasizing both the individual / subjective and communal / objective realities of the Gospel.  Unfortunately, I find most “Reformed” churches actually fall into the “rationalistic pietists” category due to the scourges of revivalism and post-Enlightenment rationalism.

The current controversies in the Reformed church relate to leaving the “rationalistic pietism” quadrant of Christendom.  It is a paradigm shift that many are not ready to make.  Our pietistic brothers may try and avoid the shift by claiming that is a “Romanizing tendency,” but this ultimately false.  There is no need to end up in Rome on the road to Geneva.

Semper Reformanda!