Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Reformation must continue

reformation_dayThe church is in need of reformation today as much as it did back in the middle ages! Back then, the Roman Catholic institution (RCi) taught gross heresies that damned millions to hell. Not much has changed in this regard. The sad thing of it all is that in the protestant church today, and within evangelicalism, the same reformation is needed.

In the evangelical church today we find preachers of large churches not knowing what Christianity is, declaring that Mormons are Christians! (Read this open letter to Joel Osteen). Other heretics are accepted into the fold without any qualms. Churches are doing the ridiculous to overtly be like the world.

I have written concerning The Reformation before, and for a short introduction on The Reformation, read The Reformation – Unleashing salvation. (Also read this). The Reformation is part of a very important period of the history of the church (read my article Church History: Saving Us from Ourselves to learn why it is a generally good idea to read church history). Although the start of The Reformation is attributed to Martin Luther, and rightly so, when, on 31 October 1517, he nailed his 95 theses against indulgences and corruption within the Roman Catholic institution onto the Castle Church’s door in Wittenburg, there were rumblings of reformation before that. What Luther did was to give the snowball of reformation a decisive push over the edge of a snowy mountain! Of course, this snowball grew fairly rapidly, and had a great impact not just in Germany where it all started, but also in France (to a slightly lesser degree), Switzerland, Netherlands, Scotland, England, the Scandinavian countries and further afield.

It saddens me when I find out that Christians in the west, where information is literally at their finger tips, do not even know about The Reformation. What is worse is that there are pastors, church leaders that do not know about it, and when 31 October comes around, they have no inkling of the enormous event that was initiated on that day almost 500 years ago! I can understand it when the ordinary Christian does not know about it, and have perhaps never learnt about it, but when a pastor from the pulpit says that he heard it is “righteousness day… oh! It is Reformation Day today!”, showing that he did not even know that it was Reformation Day, on which millions of Christians celebrate the fact that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to the fore, after centuries of false and oppressive doctrines taught by the RCi.

Then there are others who think it is of no importance at all. After I sent out an email ten days before Reformation Day, someone wrote back to me saying:
“the same Holy Spirit that lead those guys is leading us today. Millions of Christians from remote places don’t even know who Calvin and Luther were, but they know Jesus and Holy Spirit and they are alive and experiencing Revival. Calvin was not all knowing.”
To me, this shows a complete misunderstanding of why we celebrate Reformation Day. I replied to this email as follows:
“The idea behind remembering the Reformation is not to think that any of those guys were perfect. They were not. However, what we believe today concerning the gospel, is as a direct result of the Reformation. Had it not been for the Reformation, the possibility exists that we would still have been under the repressive rule of the Roman Catholic church and its false doctrines concerning the gospel.
I am sure you read the books of other people, and read biographies to learn from others. These same people learnt from those that went before them, and so forth until we go back to those in the Reformation. The Reformation is truly a watershed period in the existence of the church. There is much to learn from the Reformation, probably more than any period of time apart from the time of the apostles.
We must remember that we are [not] islands unto ourselves. Many times we think [w]e are so clever and we know so much, but the fact is what we know today is what we have learnt from those that went before us. We are simply standing on the shoulders of the giants that preceded us.
This is how the Holy Spirit has led the church from the beginning. We learn in community with others, even those that preceded us. As the church fathers learnt and stood on the shoulders of the apostles so we eventually also stand on the shoulders on of all of those that preceded us.
So, even those all over the world where the true gospel is being preached, who do not know about the Reformation, even they are standing on the shoulders of those of the Reformation.
And, knowing a bit of our roots in church history is good for us.”

One of the questions answered for us by studying the Reformation period is “Why do we believe what we do believe?” Obviously, the first answer that comes to mind is that we believe it because it is in the Bible! However, that is a very simplistic answer. It is s a direct result of the Reformation that we believe in such magnificent doctrines as justification by faith alone!

When we look at the condition of the modern church, it is quite evident that the church is in dire need of another Biblical Reformation. A reformation that once again points us back to the truth of the Scriptures and the true gospel therein. I have written on the concept of the truth of the gospel somewhat, and how important it is to follow God in truth. I would like to highlight a few of my blog posts on this: Without truth, wrong doctrine, Without truth – empty, heartless gestures to God, and Importance of Truth.

We need a reformation when we see that the church has gone off the rails and getting up to all kinds of weird things like this! When the church feels it necessary to get up to all kinds of antics, wanting to look, feel and act like the world, then we have a church that is ashamed of the gospel, not believing that the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).

George Santayana wrote in his The Life of Reason: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is very true, even for Christians. If we cannot, and like some, refuse to remember what was learnt during the Reformation, we re doomed to repeat the mistakes that led to the Reformation. Even today, we can see that evangelicalism has forgotten some very important things from the past, of which coddling heretics and their damning heresy is one of the worst mistakes the church can repeat! (See this and this).

It is time for us to return to the truth of the Scriptures, and reforming ourselves in light of the gospel. It has to do with how we read our Bibles, taking verses out of context, and forcing these verses to mean something foreign to the contexts they are found in. Every Christian simply must learn how to read the Bible for all its worth, and learning how to interpret the Bible (see here and here).

In order not to repeat the mistakes of the church in the past, why not start today? Take up church history and read about it, especially the Reformation.

For a start on the Reformation, visit Justin Taylor’s Resources for Reformation Day.

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