Friday, December 16, 2011

The Waning of the Reformation

Yesterday in a District Meeting, over a plate of ribs at The Ribber in Portsmouth, Ohio, Tami Coleman, the pastor at South Shore, said she heard a well-known speaker say that every 500 years the Church goes through a crisis. The last one was the Reformation, so we are due for another, and this time we are rejecting sola scriptura, the doctrine that scripture is the authority for Christian life and practice.

Now, Tami was not supporting this view, she was just passing it along as part of a larger discussion we were having.

We ARE rejecting sola scriptura.

But that is nothing new, not a recent trend, 500-yr cycles or otherwise. It is a constant temptation for the Church and individual believers. It has been a temptation from the beginning. It is a sad trick that the Roman Church rejected the doctrine, and then somehow claims that their medieval innovation is the apostolic tradition... And so the average Protestant seems to believe, even, that somehow the Reformation was/is a “recent” invention, and not the return to the sources of the Church it in fact, is.

We don’t have the space to rehearse it here, but a great source to find the proof of this is in excellent works like Thomas Oden’s “The Justification Reader,” and David King and William Webster, eds., “Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, vol. 3” Both of these show plainly and clearly that the Foundational Reformation principles of Justification and Scripture are not “simply” interpretive schemes of Scripture, but run throughout the Patristic literature.

So, sadly, the rejection of sola scripture is not as simple as thinking we are turning back a misguided Reformation, but is, rather, a rejection of the faith itself. It has been the constant temptation of the Church and individual believers because the Lordship of Christ means, simply, that we are not our own bosses, cannot do as we please, and this human beings have never been able to abide.

So sometimes we claim the Bible doesn't say what it clearly says.

Or sometimes we are bold and claim that the Bible is kinda like some suggestions or something.

Neither will hold up under scrutiny. But it is popular. If you and your church are more sold out to continuity, institutional survival, and being acceptable to the larger culture, I recommend you reject sola scriptura, too.

But if you are committed to Jesus and the Truth, stick with the Reformers and the Fathers and the Bible.

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