Is it Time for a New Reformation?

A number of books have been written in recent years that suggest that the direction the Christian Church has been going is profoundly warped and dysfunctional. Just take for example:

  • Radical by David Platt, which explores how we have shaped the gospel to suit ourselves and suggests, as the title implies, some uncomfortable remedies – image030uncomfortable for the materialistic, middle class, self-centred Western Christian.
  • Exiles by Michael Frost looks at how the church has been marginalised in Western cultures and offers new alternatives at being church.
  • There have been a host of books by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis looking at more effective ways of being the body of Christ.
  • Vishal Mangalwadi in The Book That made Your World shows how Western cultures influenced by the Bible have made huge strides but also reveals how we in the West have dropped the ball as we allow this heritage to dissipate.

You could probably add to the list. But my point is this: the sheer scale of people writing and thinking about the church at present indicates that all is not well in Western churches. If we add to this a host of other issues such as young people leaving the church, Christians leaving the church but maintaining the faith outside its influence and the ongoing influence of theologies that marginalise Scripture, we can get a sense of the enormity of the problem.  And we haven’t time to discuss all the areas of abuse the church has been involved in from paedophilia to scandals surrounding celebrity pastors, which have deeply wounded the voice of the church.

One of the stumbling blocks I see is that although some church leaders clearly recognise this problem their ability to act is limited. There are leaders in most churches who are alarmed by the figures both financial and human but in most cases they are seeking solutions from within the structure of their denomination.  The structure is the environment their thinking takes place in.  It is the structure, that for a whole host of reasons, from personal vested interests to tradition, that blinkers any genuinely radical Biblical vision. Property, jobs, “empires” and status are all involved in this unholy mix.  This is not dissimilar to the conditions in the Roman Church before the C16th Reformation.

And then there is us, we who in the West have succumbed to the attractions of materialism.  Our very view of life is shaped from the comfort of our easy chair.  We too are part of the problem.  Our thinking is shaped and anchored in our immediate self-interest. We too have vested self interests.

So, is it time for a new Reformation? I would genuinely love to hear the views of readers. And if it is, how will we hear God’s voice in the noise of our world?  How can our hearts be open to the leading of the Spirit? What steps can we take in faith?


Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Reformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Knowledge of God and Self

Knowledge of God
And knowledge of ourselves:
These two make up
Almost the whole of sacred doctrine.

John Calvin
Quoted in: The Piety of John Calvin
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Reformation Day – Five Years to the 500th Anniversary

The Luther Monument in Worms on a wet day

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A Long Long Time Ago… or … Will We Remember?

I love Roman archaeology:  Hadrian’s Wall, the Forum, aqueducts, amphitheatres, Roman Roads, baths and the list goes on. Wherever the Romans went they left their mark. You cannot travel around Europe without being aware that eons ago this civilisation was dominant in much of Europe, and in deed, northern Africa and Palestine. Even the builders of Winchester Cathedral became acutely aware of the Romans when they realised their building was sinking because the land was once a river which neat Romans had straightened out.

In two thousand years time, or even 1000, or maybe 500, if Christ hasn’t returned, will people be aware of C21st western Christianity? Will there be vibrant bodies of Christ challenging the ethos of the day and declaring biblical alternatives? Will there be people of passion seeking the spiritual health of the souls of men, women and children? Will there be a zeal for justice and the plight of the voiceless? Will there be worship that gives society a glimpse of heaven in the midst of the daily grind? Will Jesus be known?

Nearly 500 years ago, on October 31st, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses against indulgences on the door of the Castle Church Wittenberg. Many consider this to be the match that lit the Reformation. Other reforming hearts had come before him; Wycliffe, Tyndale, Hus and many others, but the time was right to challenge unbiblical views within the church of the day. The remembrance of this monumental event in history is even being forgotten in the churches this event begot.

It is a scary thought. Except, thank God, the advancement of the gospel is not in our hands. Although we are responsible.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.  Deut 4:9

God’s people on their Journey to the promised land were urged to remember the events that had occurred and laws that had been given up to this point. They were all pointers to God’s amazing grace. Forget them and they will forget God and His message and purpose for them.

Our churches and families have an important and monumental task to teach our children and children’s children about God, His message and purpose for them.

Categories: 95 Theses, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, History, Reformation | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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