Are You Celebrating the Reformation?

Evidently, it’s nearly 500 years since old Martin defaced the door at Wittenberg. 

A lot of Baptists are celebrating this anniversary of the Reformation. There have been conferences and symposiums (symposia?) honoring and studying and analyzing every aspect of the work of Luther, Calvin, and the rest of the bunch. From my social media feeds, I can tell you that Sola Sermon series are all the rage in Baptist pulpits across the land – five-week series of five-point messages, I would assume. (with tulips decorating the pulpit?).

On the other hand, several have been questioning the celebration. Why cheer those who anathematized and persecuted the forebears of the Baptist faith? The Puritans and the Reformation churches used the power of the government to suppress dissent and inflict pain on our spiritual ancestors.

Is Roger Williams turning over in his grave?

Should we be joining in the festivities or protesting the Protestants?

We have benefitted greatly from the Reformation. Those who first sought to reform the corrupt medieval Catholic church then finally broke from it restored important biblical doctrines. They held a great place in church history and we are blessed immeasurably by what they did.

We do not venerate the Reformers, though. We see them as both theologically and practically flawed. They began to reform the church but did not go far enough. They kept unbiblical doctrines such as infant baptism and had unhealthy views about intertwining civil government and the church. While they fought to restore doctrine they too often held onto the practices of Catholicism. We do not view the Reformers as the end of the process of restoration, but the beginning of it. They started it, but the Anabaptists and English Separatists (you historians can fight that battle) fought to reform the reformers to establish an even more biblical and New Testament church.

So, celebrate but don’t venerate. We were blessed by the Reformers but shaped by the next generation who saw the errors that the Reformers failed to correct. They were a waystation, not a final destination.

Anyone know when Spurgeon Adulation Day is?

 



Posted by Jeff Brown

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