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Whatever Happened to the Reformation

Whatever Happened to the Reformation

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Published by David Salazar
What Ever Happened to the Reformation?
Dr. Rick L. Holland
Pastor, College and Student Ministries
No discerning evangelical would question the fact that the church of our
generation suffers a debilitating case of spiritual anemia. The primary definition of
“anemia” concerns itself with blood cells deficient of hemoglobin. This absence causes
poor health in the individual and, left untreated, can cause weakness and ultimately death.
But the secondary definition reads, “a lack of vitality or courage.”
What Ever Happened to the Reformation?
Dr. Rick L. Holland
Pastor, College and Student Ministries
No discerning evangelical would question the fact that the church of our
generation suffers a debilitating case of spiritual anemia. The primary definition of
“anemia” concerns itself with blood cells deficient of hemoglobin. This absence causes
poor health in the individual and, left untreated, can cause weakness and ultimately death.
But the secondary definition reads, “a lack of vitality or courage.”

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Published by: David Salazar on Jan 14, 2009
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07/19/2009

 
What Ever Happened to the Reformation?
Dr. Rick L. Holland
 Pastor, College and Student Ministries
 No discerning evangelical would question the fact that the church of our generation suffers a debilitating case of spiritual anemia. The primary definition of “anemia” concerns itself with blood cells deficient of hemoglobin. This absence causes poor health in the individual and, left untreated, can cause weakness and ultimately death.But the secondary definition reads, “a lack of vitality or courage.”The church does indeed find herself unhealthy. And her weakness is manifest in alack of vitality and courage. Too many contemporary Christians are lethargic andunenthused, confused and contaminated, compromising and tolerant. The EvangelicalChurch has become the stuff of ridicule and novelty for the World. No longer are we thenation’s conscience; instead we are passed off as an echo of a past time of idealism longabandoned. Welcome to postmodernism, where religion is pluralistic, truth is subjective,morality is relative, authority is suspect, and the power of the media reigns.In this context, no honest pastor could possibly look at the effects of the Churchand conclude that she is making the difference she was designed to make. Evangelicalismhas been crippled by the contamination of the world and paralyzed by its own ignoranceof biblical truth. Instead of changing the world, the world has changed the church.Christians today are so gullible and pliable that they don’t recognize their infection withand corruption from paganism.As shepherds who care for our flocks, we must take this generation’s symptomsseriously. The epidemic sweeping evangelicalism can be simply diagnosed as a lethalcase of Reformational Amnesia. Western Christianity has been willingly hypnotized intoa pre-Reformational state where it is religiously ecumenical and morally bankrupt.Simply put, we are in need of a new Reformation which recaptures the tenets of theReformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
What is an “Evangelical?”
The place to begin in any discussion of Reformational amnesia is with the term“evangelical.” Its dilution is watermark of the current evangelical crisis. R.C. Sproulobserves:Since the sixteenth century the term evangelical has undergone a significantdevelopment so that today it is difficult to define. The term came into prominenceduring the Reformation, when it was virtually a synonym for 
 protestant 
. In thetwentieth century both the concept of biblical authority and the nature andsignificance of justification by faith alone were challenged from within thecommunity of confessing evangelicals. So as we head into the twentieth-firstcentury, it is no longer safe to assume that if a person calls himself an evangelical
 
 2
that he is committed to the battle cries of the Protestant Reformers, either to
 solaScriptura
or to
 sola fide
. Signs everywhere indicate that evangelicals aredisowning the heritage bequeathed to them by their Reformation forebears. Andthe church is none the better for it, prompting some to say we are entering a newDark Ages (R.C. Sproul,
What Ever Happened to the Reformation?
, xi).Amazingly, many evangelicals (i.e., “protestants”) are making efforts to join hands withRoman Catholics and heal the severance caused by the historical Reformation of the1500’s. Why? Again, the two leading influences are the church’s confusion andcontamination. James Boice notes:So what is wrong with evangelicals? The answer is that we have become worldly.We have abandoned the truths of the Bible and the historic theology of thechurch, which expresses those truths, and we are trying to do the work of God bymeans of the world’s “theology,” wisdom, methods, and agenda instead (JamesMontgomery Boice,
 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals
, 9).In other words, the church’s confusion about doctrine and the authority of the Bible,coupled with moral compass that points to the ways of the world, have created a climatesimilar to pre-Reformation Europe.But the saddest part of this tragedy is that the church has been willingly led downthis path by those who call themselves Evangelicals. The Ecumenical movementrepresented in the World Council of Churches, the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”movement, the “Cooperative Evangelism” movement encouraged by the Billy GrahamAssociation, and the advent of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, have publicly distancedthemselves from the Reformation. And as such have denied the distinctives that make a protestant and “
 protest 
ant.”In order to fully perceive the magnitude of the problem, we need to first revisit the prison that existed before the Reformation.
I. Revisiting the Prison
Religious and political historians agree that the sixteenth century produced themost important event in Western Civilization. It was a series of regional and nationalreforms that created unprecedented cultural, social, economic, and political changes, andfor obvious reasons, it has been called the Reformation.The Reformation had been subject to a variety of interpretations over the last four hundred years, but the most important insight to understand the Reformation is that iswas, at its core, a theological enterprise.The theological significance of the Reformation was decisive. The Patristic periodof church history (i.e., the first couple of hundred years after the death and resurrection of 
 
 3
Christ) was primarily concerned with the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology. But theReformation was had a different concern.
 
First, the Reformation dealt with theological authority.
 
Second, the Reformation dealt with salvation.
 
And third, the Reformation dealt with the Christian’s existence as a subject of thestate.Why did the Reformation occur?
 
The Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of salvation, religious authority, andtheology were found to be illegitimate when measured against the Scriptures.
 
The Roman Catholic Church held captive the masses that desired a relationshipwith Christ. They did so by combining the church with the political constructs, bykeeping the Word of God in untranslated Latin which made the priest and theChurch indispensable, by teaching that forgiveness of sins was related to givingmoney to the church (e.g., the selling of indulgences), and by promoting asalvation that was based on the work of man in effort rather than the work of Christ on the Cross. This resulted in the shrouding of God in ceremony and ritual.But today we face many of the same issues:
 
The same Bible, which was fought for, has been relegated as superstitiousmythology of a bygone generation and, as such, has been taken from the people.
 
Confusion about the forgiveness of sins abounds. There is little talk of the primarydoctrine that gave birth to the Reformation— 
Sola Fide
: the doctrine of  justification by faith alone.
 
 Evangelicals and Catholics Together 
(ECT) has attempted to link Protestants back with Rome.In short, we have forgotten the protest that makes us Protestants.
II. Remembering the Protest (“protestants”)
Interestingly, our amnesia of the greatest “protest” in religious history has led us tocompromise the most precious doctrines. The current trend toward ecumenism has madeit out of vogue to challenge anyone who holds a different belief system. Again, postmodernism has raped the church’s doctrinal pillars and left them in a violated state of inclusive relativism.

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