500 years ago this month, a young monk named Martin Luther started what we know as the Protestant Reformation with his gavel and his writings. He called into question all the practices that departed from Scripture within the Roman Catholic Church. He had 95 theses that he brought against the Catholic Church. The problems he outlined ranged from the legitimacy of the papacy to the buying and selling of indulgences. Early, they were minor questions, however they grew and grew in the mind of Luther until he had no choice but to plant his flag and say those fateful words, “Here I stand; I can do no other.”
From there came the outpouring of theological thought that gave us everything from Presbyterianism to Methodism. People cared about what they believed and why they believed it. The Reformation changed everything. No longer did people rely on the Cardinals and Bishops to tell them what the Bible said. They could read it themselves. They could study it. They could grow as Christians because they could read what God had actually given them to read. He had breathed out these words and Christians could now stand in the wind of that breath enjoying the breeze.
Theology became a thing that was studied universally. Everyone could nail down their beliefs and, if people disagreed, they could debate one another about how they came to their conclusions.
People went from being unable to read to reading what God had written at warp speed. Widespread literacy was also a result of what Luther had done. He was a pioneer who wanted the people to have the Bible written in their own languages.
These things are why we celebrate the Reformation even today. Such a tremendous event has not happened since biblical times. God worked mightily in and through this Reformation and I believe we are desperately in need of another.
The American Church has seen itself fall into apostasy because of a lack of biblical interpretation. Where the Protestant Reformation once opened the door for ushering in wide spread literacy, we now need a second Reformation to usher in biblical literacy. What I mean is simply that we, the American Church, have not done what is necessary for maintaining biblical faithfulness.
Think about it. From Hollywood to New York City there has been a shift in the culture. Where exactly this started is the subject of another post, but the fact remains that the Church sat by and let this happen because her members simply didn’t know what the Bible really said or how to defend it.
Apart from the culture at-large, the Visible Church herself has fallen into disrepute to a degree the world can only laugh at. The likes of Westboro Baptist Church, with their hate-fueled theology, makes the other unbiblical churches look much less threatening. However, it is the other unbiblical churches that still attract people to themselves.
Today, there is almost no fervor for doctrine whatsoever. Luther stood before the literal rulers of Europe and stared them down. Today, we would scarce find a man who would even understand what is meant by the word “doctrine.” Doctrine itself has become a sort of curse word and because of this, doctrinal heresies have arisen right under our noses. Our blessed Trinitarian theology has been replaced, either knowingly or unknowingly, by Unitarian poison. Our salvation in, through, with, by, and for God has been called into question by a synergistic understanding of salvation which focuses on men and not God. Joyful and fulfilling obedience to the Scriptures has been replaced by a legalistic fervor that allows only for failure.
We’ve lost an understanding of who God is, what He has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who we are, and how we are to live because of errors in biblical interpretation. We need a modern Reformation. We need a group to rise up to the current zeitgeist and stare it down saying, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
My next few posts will be outlining the issues, concerns, and exhortations I have for the Pentecostal Church, though they won’t be the only ones under the knife. Please pray for me as we continue and thank God that, even if you haven’t done so, you are able to read a Bible.
Soli Deo Gloria.