Monday, October 21, 2013

Name and Def of the Ref

Part the second of chapter 26 of the Earle Cairns text.  It is about the name and the definition of the Reformation.  Luther was not the only one to stir the pot, but he got all Christians examining their faith to see if it really follows the church of the New Testament.  A definition of the Reformation, says Cairns, is conditioned by the outlook of the historian.

The RCs see it as a revolt by Protestants against the universal church.  The Prots see a reformation that brought religious life nearer to the pattern of the New Testament.  Amazingly, there's a third category from a polity or church government perspective: it was a revolt against the authority of the church of Rome and its head.

Ultimately, however, the Christian religion was no longer confined to just Rome after Luther made headlines.  It did succeed in getting the Romans to examine their practices in the Counter Reformation as a check against the Protestants.  It did do some good in cleaning up abuses, but ultimately it did not reunite the professing believers of Christ.  They could no reunite on important issues such as justification by faith that is alone from grace that is alone which is only from Christ.  They could not come to an agreement about whether the Bible alone is the authority or if the church is included.  It also induced the Catholics to send missionary movements that converted Central and South America, Quebec, Indochina, and the Philippines to their system.

In the year 2013, I see the Roman Catholics growing to believe more evangelical beliefs (listen to Matt Maher) and Protestants going back to more Catholic beliefs.  As Presbyterian who married into a non-denominational church, I increasingly see the two sides as one Christianity who both emphasize salvation by works.  They are mixed by people who rely on the works of Jesus alone for salvation and people who think they can contribute something.  However, sometimes I feel like God is slowly bringing the two halves together over political issues such as abortion, and perhaps we will come to understand that Jesus is the only solution to any problem and look forward to when he brings his Kingdom to earth and visibly rules.  He rules the church now, and we should listen to him and ignore anybody who slanders Christ or his bride as not having compassion or doing enough for the world.  We need to continue to care about life and love since God is defined by both and both of them are highly devalued today.  And do not forget that there is no church apart from the one led by Jesus.

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