Thursday, January 17, 2008

The New Reformation

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the Protestant Reformation. I have been rolling around in my head the causes of it and the effects that it has had on Christianity. I have been really trying to grasp what the reformation was. I think I have come to a conclusion about the reformation. The reformation was the reforming of the Christian faith. It was an attempt to return to the basic fundamentals of Christianity as taught by the Apostles. Without boring you with all the history of it, I do want to talk a little bit about why it was neccessary and planned by God. The Church had come a long way since its humble beginnings. It was no longer in danger of persecution and death but was now intermingled with the government. One of the major problems with this is that The church was now in a position that its leaders could profit off of their place with in it. While the church was facing persecution, it was not really profitable in earthy terms to join it. The people who did join were doing out of a pure motive. But as the church gained power many non-believers saw this as their opportunity to rise to power too. These people began using the church as a way to prey on the faithful. The church leaders could hold a monopoly on education and thus be able to control the followers. Education or the lack of education among the general populace was how the greedy were able to take a hold of the church. Martin Luther saw how the church had drifted so far away from what it was supposed to be and desired change. I believe that God placed it on his heart along with those from other areas who were seeing the same thing. Then something brilliant happened. The printing press gave the common people the ability of have The Bible in their own tongue for the first time. Education led many people to see that the Church was not what it was supposed to be. This led to the protestant reformation. People were able to think for themselves and understand the truth about Christianity. I think the Protestant reformation was very important. It did bring back an understanding of what Christianity truely is.

I also think that the Protestant reformation is over and we are in a great need of a new reformation. Just like the protestants shifted the course of christianity, we need a new shift. Infact I believe that the protestant reformation has now overcompensated and left us with maybe a greater problem than before. The problem is that of divorce. No I am not talking about divorce in a marriage since but a divorce none the less. I am talking about the constant divorces of churches in the protestant faith. One of the main beliefs of protestanism is that we can all decipher the christian faith for ourselves. While this is very true in the sense that Christianity is about a personal faith, this is untrue when it comes to the Church Body. If you take this belief that everyone is intitled to their own interpretation and couple it with a lack of education about the scriptures and history of the church you will have the problem that we have today. Divorce. To give you an example let me take you to a problem in baptist churches. Say that one half of the church wants to paint the walls blue and the other white. Because everyone is entitled to do what they want and there is no authority in the church, this baptist church splits into two churches over the color of paint. This is basically a divorce. If you look at my town of Huntington you will find about a million different protestant churches each with their own spin on the gospel. Most of the differences in doctrines are because of a lack of education and understanding regarding the scriptures. I believe this is the problem that the protestant reformation has inadvertently caused. It has led to the simplicity of the gospel becoming something so overly complicated. If I was an non-believer how would I ever know which message being proclaimed is the truth.

So what is the solution? I think it is time for another reformation. I call this the reunification reformation. What will the reformation look like? It will look like the end of denominations. It will look like christians truely loving their brother. It will look like people of different denominations getting together and working through the doctinal differences. It will not just be an acceptance of everything but instead of a group of people seeking God's answers to things. The early church has some doctrinal differences but because divorce was not an option they got together and worked through the differences. They searched the scriptures and through love were able to make an authoritive statement on beliefs. I believe this can happen again. Will it be perfect? no. There will probly come a time in which another reformation is needed. Why? Because we are imperfect people trying to follow a perfect way. So how will this happen? It is already happening with the collapse of the major denominations. All of the major denominations are losing members. As some of the older people who really are not educated about the scriptures die off some younger people who have a love for the scriptures will infiltrate these churches. A pastor of a baptist church will meet with the pastor of a methodist church and begin to dialogue. They will begin to seek common ground and then pray through the differences. They will seek to unite their congregations. Now I am not a prophet but I do think that as Christianity loses its power in America and becomes persecuted again, we will see the end of these splits. In fact I almost wish for the persecution to happen so that this unity will happen. People will truely seek to understand the scriptures by educating themselves on the culture it was written in. The Persecution will weed out those using christianity to prey on the week. It is during this that we will see the reunification reformation take form. It will be beautiful and will be an answer to a prayer, Christ's prayer.

I want to end on this. There are many people proclaming unity for unity's sake. I do not do that. I do not desire people coming together and neglecting the gospel and the truth. I do not desire to see Islamic people and Christian people united. I desire to see Christ Followers united under one message, and that is Jesus Christ. Please join me in praying for this reformation. A reformation that unites Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, into one body under one unified gospel. It will take love. It will take hard work. There are many doctrinal differences that will need to be worked out. These will take a lot of education, a lot of prayer, a lot of love, and a lot of God's grace to work through. But divorce is not an option. Unite.

1 comment:

John said...

Great post, Joey. I actually don't know much about what separates all the Baptist denominations. Maybe you could write a little about that sometime?