Posts Tagged ‘reformation’

Brian McLaren, You Have Missed the Boat With Your “All-Inclusive Reformation”—Homosexuals and Feminists: Yes; The Bible and White Christian Men: No

As groups around the world celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with highly ecumenical events and speeches, Brian McLaren, once likened to Luther,1 has outlined his view of what the next reformation will look like in an article he wrote on November 1, 2017 titled, “The Last Reformation … and the Next Reformation.”  A disgruntled former evangelical Christian, McLaren says that the first reformation was led by white European men whose belief of an inerrant Bible was “papal authority with paper authority.” In contrast, McLaren says the next reformation will be much different:

The last reformation is associated with one “great man”–Martin Luther. He was joined by other “great men” – all white and European. The next reformation will be associated not with one “great man” but with many diverse people–especially women and people of color. The contribution of Liberation Theology, Black Theology, Feminist/Eco-Feminist/Womanist/Queer and related theologies will be as central to the next reformation as white European theology was to the last reformation.2

Photo: a 2-second clip from a YouTube video of Brian McLaren (2014); used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act. (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfL76BnO3g0)

This, of course, is what McLaren has been hoping would occur for a very long time.

McLaren’s public beginnings on this emergent “progressive” anti-Christianity path began back in the late 90s when men Bob Buford, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels put their heads together and came up with a way to raise up a group of young men, get them into the lime light, and bring the new spirituality into the church through them. They succeeded, and most don’t even realize they were the initial driving force. What brilliance! If you have never read about this time period, it’s worth doing so. We’ve put together a PDF of chapter 2 of Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which describes the early days of the emerging church and McLaren’s role in that.

Rick Warren has his own ideas and hopes for a new reformation. He’s been talking about it for years. The following quotes illustrate some similarities between Brian McLaren’s new reformation and Rick Warren’s:

Who’s the man of peace in any village—or it might be a woman of peace—who has the most respect, they’re open and they’re influential? They don’t have to be a Christian. In fact, they could be a Muslim, but they’re open and they’re influential and you work with them to attack the five giants. And that’s going to bring the second Reformation.3

Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” “Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they’re all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.”4

Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America … Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.5

As for Brian McLaren, he is convinced that it is white European Christian men who are the source of corruption in the church, and even in the world. In his article, he uses the term “white Christian supremacy” to refer to white Christian men saying they “naturally led” the “genocide” of the Holocaust and the nuclear war. He believes if there can just be a reformation that is made of everyone else (no matter what their beliefs are), then we will have a truly pure reformation that will change the entire world and make “Christianity” what it should be. But, like other emergent teachers, McLaren threw out the Bible as the actual Word of God, and in so doing, has embraced and clung for dear life to ideologies that try to explain why there is evil in the world. The only thing McLaren can come up with is it must be white Christian European males. McLaren has become so deceived in his rejection of biblical truth that he actually believes this, and with a passion. He rejects Christianity now because he believes it is a “white man’s religion.” He cannot see that man’s heart is sinful and full of deceit, and it has nothing to do with color or status. While we know there have been great atrocities and abuses done at the hands of white men, there have also been great atrocities and abuses done at the hands of non-white men. McLaren believes the problems and sufferings of this world are because men of one color – white – are more wicked than any other race of people. Tragically, many will believe his new reformation theology and will turn against the God of the Bible altogether and join forces with an all-inclusive god of this world. That god, however, cannot save one single soul. He cannot give lasting peace, and he cannot give eternal life. McLaren hates the fact that the Jesus Christ of the Bible says, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) and “narrow is the way” that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).

The reformation leaders from over 500 years ago tried to separate themselves from what they saw as a false corrupted Christianity (Roman Catholicism). And that was a good thing. Many of them paid a high price to stand for truth; for many, even their lives. But there were groups that formed after the reformation that created their own forms of “Christianity,” and many of those groups became corrupt as well. But that is not the church (the body of Christ). The church is made up of people, starting with the very first Christians described in the New Testament, who name the name of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who become born again through His Spirit, and who have the mind of Christ because they are born again in Him. While some of them may belong to different groups and denominations, they know in their hearts that their first allegiance is to God. This body of Christ has been in existence since the beginning of the church after Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. It consists of both men and women, rich and poor, and of many different skin colors and from many different nations. Those distinctions merely describe the outer shell of these believers. The important distinction that separates them from the entire world is that they are sealed through the Holy Spirit in Christ (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). They have been translated from the kingdom of darkness (sin) into the kingdom of light (Jesus Christ) (Colossians 1:13). Because they have the Spirit of God living in them, they do not hate, they do not despise someone because of the color of his skin, and they pray for the lost knowing that God loves them and wishes for all to come to repentance and the knowledge of Him; and while they may attend various denominations, they first are Christians, born again and sanctified through Jesus Christ. Though not perfect by any means and can succumb to their flesh and sin, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who convicts them of sin, gives them power from on high to walk righteously, and cleanses them from all sin. After reading this article by Brian McLaren, we must seriously doubt that he has ever seen or entered this Kingdom of Jesus Christ (who said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Tragically, Brian McLaren and those like him have missed the boat and are sinking in a mire of lostness, always seeking, but never finding, and taking anyone with them who will follow. Equally tragic are the many Christian leaders and pastors who somewhere along the line jumped into that quagmire of deception because they were tempted by that evil one who offered them popularity, wealth, and lust in exchange for a truth and discipleship that costs dearly.

Brian McLaren, truth isn’t about white men or black men. Yes, there are racists, and people of color have often been victim to them. But that is because of sin, sin in the hearts of men who became cold, callous, and wicked from the hardness of their hearts. But you Brian McLaren have chosen to walk on a path that is also cold, callous, and wicked. You have been kept from truth because your eyes have been on this world rather than on an invisible world that is far above anything you can imagine. You think your neo-political, anti-Christian, pro-gay, environmental, anti-Bible rhetoric is going to save the world. You are wrong, dear sir. Truth does not lie on the path you are venturing on. Nor does it lie in any man-made institution. It is found in the pages of a book that God gave us, along with His Spirit, to show us the way to One Man Who has invited all to come unto Him and believe on Him. You think that your “progressive” relevant, emergent talk is so far above those who simply believe in a simple Gospel. You have swung to the other side of the pendulum, and you are just as off as those on the opposite side.

Endnotes:

  1. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3665.
  2. Brian McLaren, “The Last Reformation  . . . and the Next Reformation” (Patheos, November 1, 2017, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/brianmclaren/2017/11/last-reformation-next-reformation/#o77FxR1O0HGLI2ws.99)
  3. Rick Warren quoted in “Myths of the Modern Megachurch” (Pew Forum on Religion, 2005, http://www.pewforum.org/2005/05/23/myths-of-the-modern-megachurch/).
  4. Rick Warren quoted in “The Purpose Driven Pastor” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060116060443/http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm)
  5. Rick Warren speaking at the Pew Forum on Religion, 2005, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pewreligion.htm).

 

 

 

Pictures That Say a Thousand Words – What Would the Reformers Think of Them?

The following photos are an assortment taken from stories we have written or posted over the last three years.

July 2017

Leaders of the World Communion of Reformed Churches sign copies of the declaration in the Saint Mary’s City Church in Wittenberg, Germany, expressing support from Reformed churches for the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. (Credit: Photo courtesy of WCRC/Anna Siggelkow.)

2014 at the Vatican, Italy

Pope Francis speaks at an inter-religious conference on family values at the Vatican on Monday. Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren, bottom right, sits in the audience.

 

2014

Pope Francis with several evangelical leaders including James Robison, Tony Palmer, and Kenneth Copeland

2014

Vatican Happy About the Way Christianity is Going? – “Christians Mark Reformation Anniversary in Westminster Abbey”

LTRJ Note: Posted for informational and research purposes only.

From Vatican Radio

Christians of all different denominations gathered in London’s Westminster Abbey on Tuesday to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation movement. The midday service, led by the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall,  featured a new anthem, commissioned for the occasion by Danish composer, Bent Sørensen.

It also included the official presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury of a resolution from the worldwide Anglican Communion which welcomes and affirms the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. Last year the World Communion of Reformed Churches also signed up to the declaration, while the World Methodist Council did the same in 2006. . . .

Anglicans have been invited to join Lutherans and Catholics around the world in marking 2017, including Tuesday’s celebration at Westminster Abbey. Gibaut says the passing of the resolution, together with its formal handing over, are part of a much larger picture of Anglican participation in the events of this Reformation year. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles from Lighthouse Trails:

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?

“On Reformation Milestone, Experts Detect ‘Astounding’ Thirst For Unity”

Pope Francis, right, hugs the President of the Lutheran World Federation Bishop Munib Younan during an ecumenical prayer in the Lund Lutheran cathedral, Sweden, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP.)

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content.

By John L. Allen Jr.
Crux (Catholic publication)

Two experts on the Catholic/Lutheran relationship, one Catholic and the other Lutheran, both say that joint commemorations of today’s 500th anniversary of the launch of the Protestant Reformation reflect a strong yearning for unity in the grassroots, and may represent a new “springtime” in ecumenism, meaning the quest for Christian unity.

Five hundred years ago today, tradition has it, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany, thereby triggering the Protestant Reformation that’s divided Western Christianity ever since.

Today, two experts on each side of that Catholic/Lutheran divide say what they detect in the trenches is an “astounding” thirst for unity. Click here to continue reading.

While Protestants Commemorate Reformation This Month, Papal Persecution Regarding the Eucharist Often Ignored

By Philip Gray
(Freelance writer and defender of the faith)

Pope Francis during a Mass, holding up the wafer that is said to have the presence of Jesus in it after transubstantiation

October 31, 2017 is being commemorated by many Protestant groups as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Many groups are using the occasion to suggest that there is no need for a Protestant Reformation any longer, and Protestants and Catholics can and should now unify, if not in name, then at least in mission and faith. Ecumenical events are taking place across the globe to supposedly celebrate the Reformation, but in reality, many of these are efforts to break down the walls that divide Protestanism and Catholicism. The Catholic Church insists there is no need for a Reformation any more because the Catholic Church, it says, is now in agreement doctrinally with Protestanism in many areas. While the motive by the Catholic Church of making such claims is highly questionable (e.g., to ultimately win back the “lost brethren” to the “Mother Church”), there is one area (and it is perhaps the most significant of all because it has to do with salvation) that the Catholic Church does not and will not ever claim to be the same, and that is in the Eucharist (i.e., the sacraments, the Mass). For if there was no Eucharist and Mass, there would be no Catholic Church. If you do not understand what the Catholic Eucharist is, then be sure to read some of the material* by Lighthouse Trails regarding this. In a nutshell, the Eucharist is the practice and belief that the real presence of Jesus is in the communion wafer (an event the Catholic Church refers to as  Transubstantiation that can only be performed by a Catholic priest), which is to be consumed by the sinner in order for his sins to be forgiven. It is, in essence, a recrucifying of Christ as if Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was not sufficient (which is contrary to Scripture that talks about the “finished” work on the Cross.”

One thing that is not being brought up in many of these Reformation events this year is the many people who died at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church for refusing to believe in the Eucharistic Christ. In honor of those who were martyred because they would not bow the knee to a false gospel, below are posted the stories of two martyrs who died at the hands of the Catholic Church because they refused to take the Mass and believe that Jesus Christ was in a wafer. These are direct quotes from the Lighthouse Trails edition of  Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

Martyrdom of William Hunter (martyred at 19 years old in 1555)
William Hunter had been trained in the doctrines of the Reformation from his earliest youth, being descended from religious parents who carefully instructed him in the principles of true religion. When Hunter was but nineteen years of age he refused to receive the communion at Mass and was brought before the bishop.

Bonner caused William to be brought into a chamber where he began to reason with him, promising him security and pardon if he would recant. Nay, he would have been content if he would have gone only to receive communion and to confession, but William would not do so for all the world.

Upon this the bishop commanded his men to put William in the stocks in his gate house, where he sat two days and nights with a crust of brown bread and a cup of water only, which he did not touch.

At the two days’ end, the bishop came to him and finding him steadfast in the faith, sent him to the convict prison and commanded the keeper to lay upon him as many irons as he could bear. He continued in prison three quarters of a year, during which time he had been before the bishop five times.

Then the bishop, calling William, asked him if he would recant and finding he was unchangeable, pronounced sentence upon him that he should go from that place to Newgate for a time, and thence to Brentwood, there to be burned.

About a month afterward, William was sent down to Brentwood where he was to be executed. On coming to the stake, he knelt down and read the Fifty-first Psalm, until he came to these words, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

William now cast his Psalter into his brother’s hand, who said, “William, think on the holy passion of Christ and be not afraid of death.” “Behold,” answered William, “I am not afraid.” Then he lifted up his hands to heaven, and said, “Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit;”and casting down his head again into the smothering smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his blood to the praise of God.

Mrs. Joyce Lewes (died 1557)
This lady was the wife of Mr. T. Lewes of Manchester. She had received the Romish religion as true, until the burning of that pious martyr Mr. Saunders at Coventry. Understanding that his death arose from a refusal to receive the Mass, she began to inquire into the ground of his refusal and her conscience, as it began to be enlightened, became restless and alarmed. In this inquietude she resorted to Mr. John Glover, who lived near, and requested that he would unfold those rich sources of gospel knowledge he possessed, particularly upon the subject of transubstantiation. He easily succeeded in convincing her that the tomfoolery of popery and the Mass were at variance with God’s most holy Word, and honestly reproved her for following too much the vanities of a wicked world. It was to her indeed a word in season, for she soon became weary of her former sinful life and resolved to abandon the Mass and idolatrous worship. Though compelled by her husband’s violence to go to church, her contempt of the holy water and other ceremonies was so manifest that she was accused before the bishop for despising the Sacraments.

A citation addressed to her immediately followed, which was given to Mr. Lewes, who, in a fit of passion, held a dagger to the throat of the officer and made him eat it, after which he caused him to drink it down and then sent him away. But for this the bishop summoned Mr. Lewes before him as well as his wife; the former readily submitted, but the latter resolutely affirmed that in refusing holy water, she neither offended God nor any part of His laws. She was sent home for a month, her husband being bound for her appearance, during which time Mr. Glover impressed upon her the necessity of doing what she did, not from self-vanity but for the honor and glory of God.

Mr. Glover and others earnestly exhorted Lewes to forfeit the money he was bound in rather than subject his wife to certain death; but he was deaf to the voice of humanity and delivered her over to the bishop, who soon found sufficient cause to consign her to a loathsome prison, whence she was several times brought for examination. At the last time the bishop reasoned with her upon the fitness of her coming to Mass and receiving as sacred the Sacrament and sacramentals of the Holy Ghost. “If these things were in the Word of God,” said Mrs. Lewes, “I would with all my heart receive, believe, and esteem them.” The bishop, with the most ignorant and impious effrontery, replied, “If you will believe no more than what is warranted by Scriptures, you are in a state of damnation!” Astonished at such a declaration, this worthy sufferer ably rejoined that his words were as impure as they were profane.

After condemnation she lay a twelvemonth in prison, the sheriff not being willing to put her to death in his time. When her death warrant came from London, she sent for some friends whom she consulted in what manner her death might be more glorious to the name of God and injurious to the cause of God’s enemies. Smilingly, she said: “As for death, I think lightly of it. When I know that I shall behold the amiable countenance of Christ my dear Saviour, the ugly face of death does not much trouble me.” The evening before she suffered, two priests were anxious to visit her, but she refused both their confession and absolution when she could hold a better communication with the High Priest of souls. About three o’clock in the morning, Satan began to shoot his fiery darts by putting into her mind to doubt whether she was chosen to eternal life, and Christ died for her. Her friends readily pointed out to her those consolatory passages of Scripture which comfort the fainting heart and point to the Redeemer who takes away the sins of the world.

About eight o’clock the sheriff announced to her that she had but an hour to live. She was at first cast down, but this soon passed away, and she thanked God that her life was about to be devoted to His service. The sheriff granted permission for two friends to accompany her to the stake—an indulgence for which he was afterward severely handled. Mr. Reniger and Mr. Bernher led her to the place of execution; because of its far distance, her great weakness, and the press of the people, she nearly fainted. Three times she prayed fervently that God would deliver the land from popery and the idolatrous Mass; and the people for the most part, as well as the sheriff, said Amen.

When she had prayed, she took the cup, (which had been filled with water to refresh her,) and said, “I drink to all them that unfeignedly love the gospel of Christ and wish for the abolition of popery.” Her friends and a great many women of the place drank with her, for which most of them afterward were enjoined penance.

When chained to the stake her countenance was cheerful and the roses of her cheeks were not abated. Her hands were extended towards heaven until the fire rendered them powerless, when her soul was received into the arms of the Creator. The duration of her agony was but short; as the under-sheriff, at the request of her friends, had prepared such excellent fuel that she was in a few minutes overwhelmed with smoke and flame. The case of this lady drew a tear of pity from everyone who had a heart not callous to humanity.

(These two stories are taken from the Lighthouse Trails edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which is an unaltered version from John Foxe’s account. See note below about the LT edition.)


Publisher’s Note from the LT edition: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was first published five hundred years ago. Today, there are many editions of this book available. When Lighthouse Trails decided to start offering this book to our readers, we began our search for a suitable edition. Much to our dismay, we discovered that many of the current editions were compromised in one form or another. For example, in one edition by a Christian publisher, front page endorsements included the names of those who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the emerging church. When one realizes that contemplative/emerging spirituality embraces some of the very same beliefs that Foxe’s martyrs opposed to the point of suffering cruel persecution and death, it is most troubling and misleading to see these names in the cover of an edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

In another edition we reviewed, the book was among a special set of “Christian classics.” We were once again perplexed to see that some of the other books in that series were written by contemplative mystics.

And yet another edition, published by a secular publisher, advertised mystical and occult practices on the back cover.

Finally, after an unsuccessful search, Lighthouse Trails decided to publish our own edition of this truly incredible and unforgettable account.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3: 17

 

*You do not have to buy material from Lighthouse Trails to gain information on these topics as there are many many articles on this blog that can be read and even printed and shared with friends and family.

NEW BOOKLET: THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know)

2017 marks the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation period in history. This year, orthodox, ecumenical, emergent, liberal, and even secular groups will be “honoring” the Reformation. In this new booklet by Roger Oakland, certain aspects of the Reformation will be discussed, aspects you won’t find in these other circles.

 THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know) by Roger Oakland is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know)

By Roger Oakland
A study of church history reveals that the plan by the serpent to infiltrate Christianity has been relentless through the ages. This plan continues today and is accelerating as the apostasy foretold in the Bible unfolds. In my book, The Good Shepherd Calls, I document how the counterfeit bride (what the Bible calls the harlot) is assembling an amalgamation of apostate “Christianity” with the world’s religions for establishing a peace plan. This peace plan will in turn set up a one-world religion in the name of Christ to further the cause of peace. What is happening right now in the political, economic, and religious sectors is a gradual unfolding of this plan that will build up speed and momentum as we approach the coming of the Antichrist.

While it is impossible to accomplish a complete study of church history in one small booklet, I have chosen one period of time that will help us to comprehend a number of principles we are trying to clarify. While Christianity can become distorted and separated from the foundation of the Bible so it is no longer recognizable as biblical Christianity, God always calls out those who hear His voice. As Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10: 27).

Throughout church history, those who are called out form a remnant. Hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd in the midst of a Christianity that has gone astray and then speaking out against this deception is always met with opposition, hostility, and even death. Of course, this would be expected according to the battle described in the Bible between good and evil, God and Satan.

The area of church history we will be discussing in this booklet is a time known as the Reformation when the reformers split from the Roman Catholic Church in an attempt to re-establish what they believed was a Bible-based Christianity. The reformers, and those who followed their lead, then faced what was called the Counter Reformation (by Rome) and were persecuted. In many cases, they were tortured or killed because of their refusal to submit to papal teachings such as those that said Jesus could be found in a wafer (the Eucharist), and they would not pledge their allegiance to Rome or the pope. Many Christians today have either forgotten about the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, do not understand the implications of what took place, or have never even heard about this period of time.

It is also important to point out that those who led the Reformation were not infallible individuals. They were grieved by the way Christianity had departed from Scripture and had a desire to make corrections. But some of their corrections were not biblically based. How tragic it is today that many sheep follow these men (even naming themselves after them) and their ideas more than they follow the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Even though a correction to the course of Christianity was made, the corrections often did not go far enough, or in some cases veered away from biblical truth altogether. In other cases, some reformers did not want to leave the Catholic Church but rather desired to change some things but leave other beliefs that were just as detrimental intact. Nevertheless, many of these men and women suffered greatly for their efforts to stand for truth.

It is essential that we examine and understand the past because many proclaiming Christians today are being led down the same path as the past, as if they are trying to rediscover the wheel, and they don’t understand that the Bible was written so we don’t have to thrash about aimlessly in the tides of life.

As the reformers discovered, contending for the faith is not an easy road to walk. My prayer is that those believers today who are indeed contending for the faith and trying to warn the deceived can do so in love. Contending is not being contentious. Instead, contending should be sharing the truth in love with the deceived.

The Reformation

One source describes the Reformation in the following way:

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice. They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes. The disruption triggered wars, persecutions and the so-called Counter Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestants.1

More information from the same document suggests the goal of the reformers was to guide people away from a man-made system of power and control (purported to represent Christ) back to following Christ and His Word alone. We read:

Historians usually date the start of the Protestant Reformation to the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Its ending can be placed anywhere from the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, which allowed for the coexistence of Catholicism and Lutheranism in Germany, to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. The key ideas of the Reformation—a call to purify the church and a belief that the Bible, not tradition, should be the sole source of spiritual authority—were not themselves novel. However, Luther and the other reformers became the first to skillfully use the power of the printing press to give their ideas a wide audience.2

The most significant contribution of the Reformation is its illumination and recognition of the true Gospel of justification (salvation) by grace alone through faith in Christ alone apart from earning salvation through works; this fundamental truth exploded as the Word of God (the Bible) became available to the common people. We can even thank the more obscure events, such as the invention of the printing press around 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg and the efforts of Bible translators for making this possible. Meanwhile, many other extra-biblical dogmas and traditions that had reinvented biblical Christianity with outright non-Christian beliefs had been implemented to control the sheep as well. Some of these were:

Selling of indulgences
Purgatory
Praying to dead “saints”
A focus on Mary as the mother of God
The rosary and repetitive prayers to “Mary”
The “Holy doors” opened on Roman Catholic Jubilee for forgiveness
Transubstantiation
The Eucharistic Jesus
Eucharistic adoration
Popery and the infallibility of the pope

While there were many different Reformation leaders in various countries, we will reference only a few.

Germany and Lutherism

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg when he composed his “95 Theses,” which protested the pope’s sale of indulgences in lieu of doing penance. After Luther read and came to understand Romans 1:17 that says, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith,” Luther’s spiritual life was radically changed as he came to realize he was not under this continuous weight of condemnation but through Christ had found justification through faith alone. This understanding helped spark the Reformation.

Although he had hoped to spur renewal from within the Catholic Church, in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated. Sheltered by Friedrich, elector of Saxony, Luther translated the Bible into German and continued his production of vernacular pamphlets. When German peasants, inspired in part by Luther’s empowering “priesthood of all believers,” revolted in 1524, Luther sided with Germany’s princes. By the Reformation’s end, Lutheranism had become the state religion throughout much of Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltics.3

Sadly, Luther later turned vehemently against the Jews after becoming discouraged because they wouldn’t convert. Tragically, Adolph Hitler utilized Luther’s anti-Jewish sentiments to help convince the German people to turn against the Jews.4

As far as Luther’s contribution of his discovery of the essence of the Gospel, that justification is through faith and not works, it cannot be understated, and he did suffer persecution for his reform efforts.

Switzerland and Calvinism

The Swiss Reformation began in 1519 with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli, whose teachings largely paralleled Luther’s. In 1541, John Calvin, a French Protestant who had spent the previous decade in exile writing his Institutes of the Christian Religion, was invited to settle in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine into practice—which stressed an extreme view of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s predestined fate where man has no control over his fate nor the free will to choose or reject Christ, as these things are predetermined. These teachings have brought much confusion to Christians over the centuries in that Calvin’s doctrine contradicts the message of the Gospel that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) and this verse from the Book of Revelation:

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

The result of Calvin’s work was a theocratic regime of enforced, austere morality. Calvin’s Geneva became a hotbed for Protestant exiles, and his doctrines quickly spread to Scotland, France, Transylvania and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.5

Like Luther, Calvin was fallible, and in addition, he was the cause of much human suffering. This can be documented in the writings of Bernard Cottret, a university professor who greatly admired Calvin, and whose book (published by Eerdman’s) was intended to be a favorable portrait of Calvin, yet it describes more than 38 executions attributed to Calvin.

[Cottret] documents the dates of each of John Calvin’s despicable acts and shows that Calvin’s methods included imprisonment, torture, and execution by beheading and by burning at the stake.6

Michael Servetus was a scientist and a theologian who was born in 1511. Calvin had given Servetus a copy of his writings hoping for admiration and a favorable review. When Servetus returned Calvin’s writings to him with review and critique comments in the margins, Calvin was infuriated. On October 27, 1553, at the age of 42, Servetus was burned alive at the stake. To add to his agony, Calvin had Servetus’ own theological book tied to his chest, the flames of which rose against his face. While Michael Servetus’ doctrines may not have all been biblically sound, Calvin’s torture and execution of this man is inexcusable.7

Another problem with Calvinism is that it offers no assurance of salvation. The reason for this is that while the Bible declares “whosoever” may come, Calvin’s grasp and understanding of “predestination” was so all consuming as to become “another gospel” where one gets saved if and only if God has already chosen to save someone; hence, receiving the Gospel according to Scripture is both impossible and of no avail to someone predestined to Hell. It is worth noting that in his will, Calvin wrote a plea to God to save him if He can find it in His will to do so.8 This is completely contrary to Scripture that promises us assurance of salvation:

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)

England and the “Middle Way”

The history of Christianity in England is marked by some extreme highs and lows, often happening simultaneously, where good and evil were always present, clashing with but never eradicating the other. King Henry VIII had a highly questionable personal life, but through the course of related events, broke away from Rome, instituted an English church, and made the Bible available to the people. Below is a brief historical synopsis of this turbulent period of English history:

In England, the Reformation began with Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, the English king declared in 1534 that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. Beginning in 1536, every parish was required to have a copy.

After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign and then endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. In 1559, Elizabeth I took the throne and, during her 44-year reign, cast the Church of England as a “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with vernacular worship and a revised Book of Common Prayer.9

Without a doubt, a reformation was needed. And the reformers paid a high price, some with their lives, to help pave a road away from the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church and toward biblical purity. But even though their roles in this were substantial, nevertheless, they were still just fallible men and women who were used of God and in some cases of our adversary. They should not have been put on spiritual pedestals to be esteemed so highly that centuries later, when a Christian challenges their writings, he is sorely ostracized by much of today’s Christian academia.

The Counter Reformation

Understanding some of the history behind Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and the Jesuit agenda to bring back the “separated brethren” to the “Mother of All Churches” reveals one of the darkest periods of church history. Untold numbers (some estimates are in the tens of thousands, others in the tens of millions) of Christians, Jews, and other non-Catholics were tortured and killed if they refused submission to the pope, refused to accept that Jesus Christ was present in the Eucharist, or simply refused to be Catholic.

In fact, at this point, I would suggest our readers either read or re-read a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. This will give an excellent overview of the suffering and torture imposed on Bible believers during the Reformation and Counter Reformation Period by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. For those who are unable to read the book, we will provide an example, quoting a source that explains who the Huguenots were and the persecution they endured because they desired to follow the Good Shepherd:

The Huguenots were French Protestants. The tide of the Reformation reached France early in the sixteenth century and was part of the religious and political fomentation of the times. It was quickly embraced by members of the nobility, by the intellectual elite, and by professionals in trades, medicine, and crafts. It was a respectable movement involving the most responsible and accomplished people of France. It signified their desire for greater freedom religiously and politically.

However, ninety percent of France was Roman Catholic, and the Catholic Church was determined to remain the controlling power. The Huguenots alternated between high favor and outrageous persecution. Inevitably, there were clashes between Roman Catholics and Huguenots, many erupting into the shedding of blood.

Thousands of Huguenots were in Paris . . . on August 24, 1572. On that day, soldiers and organized mobs fell upon the Huguenots, and thousands of them were slaughtered. . . .

On April 13, 1598 . . . the newly crowned Henry IV [who favored the Huguenots] . . . issued the Edict of Nantes, which granted to the Huguenots toleration and liberty to worship in their own way. For a time, at least, there was more freedom for the Huguenots. However, about one hundred years later, on October 18, 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. Practice of the “heretical” religion was forbidden. Huguenots were ordered to renounce their faith and join the Catholic Church. They were denied exit from France under pain of death. And, Louis XIV hired 300,000 troops to hunt the heretics down and confiscate their property.10

Nothing New Under the Sun

This brief study of the Reformation and the Counter Reformation opens a window to the past that has either been forgotten or ignored. We know that most Catholics today would be totally against people being tortured and burned at the stake, and while it is not our objective to open old wounds or to be called “Catholic bashers,” it is important to understand what happened in the past from a biblical perspective with the hope it won’t happen again.

Unfortunately, something is happening in the Protestant church today that would shock and horrify those believers who have gone before us suffering torturous deaths because they would not bow the knee to the Catholic Church. Many of today’s Protestants, who at one time agreed that the Reformation needed to take place, have now proclaimed that the Reformation has no relevance anymore and that Protestantism and Catholicism need to see themselves as one church. While the same unbiblical dogmas, traditions, and ideas are being taught by the Catholic Church (and being labeled as harmless by many Protestant leaders), the martyrs of the Reformation are now considered by some to be anti-ecumenical crackpots who endured tremendous suffering and death for what is now seen as trivial and unnecessary.

The church that once relied on the Word of God now follows men who have compromised the truth or ignored the truth entirely. Church history is being repeated, perhaps for the last time, and many have fallen asleep or are willingly ignorant.

The last-days delusion is upon us. Many Christians who are attempting to maintain biblical integrity and not “go with the flow” of megachurch madness cannot even find a church to attend that has not compromised the faith. Denominations and associations of fellowships that were once on track have been derailed.

If we have heeded the warnings and instruction of Scripture, we must expect this attack on biblical faith. Like those who were willing to speak the truth in the past and suffer the consequences, the Good Shepherd is calling those who are willing to take a similar stand today.

To order copies of THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

Endnotes:
1. History.com; The Reformation: http://www.history.com/topics/reformation.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Toward the end of his days, Luther became profoundly anti-Semitic, and the publishers and author of The Good Shepherd Calls and this booklet wish to dissociate themselves utterly from the views he expressed on the Jewish people during these final few years. As Perry, Peden, and Von Laue point out, “Initially, Luther hoped to attract Jews to his vision of reformed Christianity. In That Jesus Was Born a Jew (1523), the young Luther expressed sympathy for Jewish sufferings and denounced persecution as a barrier to conversion. He declared, ‘I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from the Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians . . . We [Christians] are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord.’”  Based on this point, Luther went on to say: “if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.”  Thanks in no small part to the appalling extent of Rome’s past persecution of the Jews ‘in the Name of Christ’, the vast majority of Jews did not convert to Christianity, and this, combined with Rome’s many false teachings about the Jews, prompted Luther toward his violent diatribes against them. It should also be borne in mind that he lived in a very anti-Semitic time, and in a very anti-Semitic part of the world. Tragically, centuries later, Adolph Hitler utilized the anti-Semitic sentiments of Luther to help justify to the Germany people his atrocities toward the Jewish People, which resulted in over six million Jewish deaths.  For further information on Luther’s views of the Jews, read William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
5. http://www.history.com/topics/reformation, op. cit.
6. B. Kirkland D.D., Calvinism: None Dare Call it Heresy (Sarnia, ON: Local Church Ministries, www.fairhavensbaptist.com), p. 4.
7. Ibid.
8. Norman F. Douty, The Death of Christ, Rev. And Enlarged (Irving, TX: Williams & Watrous Pub. Co, 1978), p. 176.
9. http://www.history.com/topics/reformation, op., cit.
10. The Huguenot Society of America, “Huguenot History,” http://huguenotsocietyofamerica.org/?page=Huguenot-History.

To order copies of THE REFORMATION: A Brief But Important Look (Some Things You Might Not Know), click here.

Letter to the Editor: Obama and World Leaders Ringing in Reformation Summer 2017 in Germany

To Lighthouse Trails:

Obama, Chancellor [of Germany] Angela Merkel, and Melinda Gates [Bill Gates’ wife]  all attended and spoke at the Protestant assembly in Germany, Kirchentag, which rings in the beginning of Reformation Summer 2017. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, two additional Imams, a number of rabbis, and a Jewish author spoke as well. Reformation Summer 2017, which Kirchentag is ringing in, is a celebration and commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and Europe, and it is ecumenical. (https://r2017.org/en) German Protestant Kirchentag is an ecumenical and interfaith event, despite its name.

Article: “Obama and Makgoba to visit Germany for 500th Reformation anniversary”
“On 25 May the former U.S. President and Chancellor Angela Merkel will engage in a conversation on the topic of “Being Involved in Democracy: Taking on Responsibility Locally and Globally”. Kirchentag President Christina Aus der Au and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, EKD Council chair, will moderate the discussion at the Brandenburg Gate. The event is being jointly sponsored and planned by the Kirchentag and the Obama Foundation.

Heinrich Bedford-Strohm invited President Obama in May 2016 to visit Germany for the Reformation anniversary. Bedford-Strohm: “President Barack Obama’s attending the Kirchentag in Berlin, which will ring in the Reformation Summer, underlines the international character of our 500th anniversary celebrations. The churches form a global civil society network of over two billion Christians. Together, as people of faith, we live from the firm hope for a better world. Anyone who is pious also has to be politically minded. I am looking forward to enthusiastic debates during the Reformation Summer 2017.”

Christina Aus der Au is also delighted about the two prominent participants in the Kirchentag. “The United States is strongly marked by the Reformation and its historical impact. At the same time, the Protestant churches and communities there have developed in their own way. President Obama and Chancellor Merkel have said that their dedication as politicians is also an expression of their Christian faith. The Kirchentag movement lives from people who work for justice and solidarity on the basis of their faith. It will be really interesting to hear what the two of them say to us Christians in Europe.” https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/obama_and_makgoba.html

Article: “The Kirchentag church festival – the highpoint of the Reformation anniversary year”
“From 24 to 28 May 2017, under the banner ‘You see me’, you are encouraged to open your eyes to your fellow man and look more deeply into everyday life.”
“The Kirchentag is not just for Protestants, of course. People of all faiths and nationalities are very much welcome to attend and to play their part, and wherever possible the festival programme has been made barrier-free.”

“Take the opportunity to discuss topics like peace, tolerance and diversity with your fellow man.
https://www.germany.travel/en/news/the-kirchentag-church-festival-the-highpoint-of-the-reformation-anniversary-year-229825.html

Article: “Obama in Berlin for landmark church assembly”
“Former US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in front of tens of thousands of people before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday to discuss God, faith and the state of the world.”

“Former US president warned of succumbing to nationalism and a closed world – an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump.”

“In this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves, we can’t hide behind a wall,” he said before the gate that once separated East and West Berlin.”

“Those attending include Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, philanthropist Melinda Gates, German singer and songwriter Max Giesinger, German climate change researcher Ottmar Edenhofer, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and Israeli author Amos Oz.”  http://www.dw.com/en/obama-in-berlin-for-landmark-church-assembly/a-38961665

Theme of Kirchentag: “You See Me”
“The 36th German Protestant Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenberg has the theme “You see me” from Genesis chapter 16, verse 13.” “General secretary Ellen Ueberschär points out: “Seeing starts relationships, not only with God but also in the co-existence of all humans. Being looked at by God is the foundation of man’s dignity as a creation of God. The story of Hagar that the topic stems from is referenced both in the New Testament and in the Hadiths, the collection of Muhammad’s sayings. ‘You see me’ is a sentence that expresses recognition, appreciation and attention beyond its biblical context.”

“I wish for a Kirchentag full of awareness: aware of people without regard, in a city where rich and poor are far apart; aware also of those who don’t believe in God or believe differently, here in Germany’s East and in a city full of cultural and ideological contrast; aware and alert for a church that changes because it needs to change.”

– Under full list of topics, here are some listed:
“New start towards the future common good
Ecumenical service on Ascension Day
Spiritual Centre
Centre on the Church of the Future
Centre Barrier free Kirchentag
Theme day on Reforming the ecumenical movement – thinking Reformation ecumenically
Theme day on What is mission? Having faith in a pluralist world
Long night of the religions during the Kirchentag
Centre on Jews and Christians
Centre on Muslims and Christians
Theme day: Interreligious-theological women’s base faculty
Panel series on Peace
Panel series on Sustainable development goals – Germany, a developing country
Panel series on Consequences of climate change (in Potsdam)
Centre for Reformation and Transformation – Ecumenical Perspectives (English-speaking)”
https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/theme_topics.html

Programme for Kirchentag Webpage:
“Bible studies or large concerts, Taizé worship or socio-political panel discussions – the events are as varied as its visitors.”
https://www.kirchentag.de/english/programme/programme_book.html

PDF File of Complete Programme:
Some of the topics from this programme are:
Ecumenical Opening Service
The Long Road to Women’s Ordination
Feminists in All Religions
Unite! Strategies against Fundamentalism
Climate Impact and Poverty
Reformation anniversary as “Christusfest?”
In Search of a Christology that is Not Anti-Jewish
One World?
Ecumenical Voices on the Third Reformation
Incense of Music
Interreligious work for peace
Strategies for peace and prophetic witness
Messy church in the United States
Liturgy goes Carribean
The Peacemakers: Texts by Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, et al.
Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence
A Safe Europe in a Better World
Taking greater responsibility for peace
Hate Speech
Religious Freedom or Hate Speech – Worldwide Challenges for LBGT+
Climate Change calls for a New Theology
Orthodox Vespers in Ecumenical Communion
Do we need different churches?
Christianity and Korean Confucianism
Seventy years of partition plan, 50 years of occupation: Israel and Palestine – the irresolvable conflict?
I have learned to speak to God
(De)radicalisation through religion
Queer and religious?!: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim positions
Transhuman revolution: The self-invention of the immortal human
Sustainable Development and the churches in South Africa
Meissen unites: Celebrating the Eucharist interdenominationally
Feidman plays the Beatles
https://www.kirchentag.de/fileadmin/dateien/zzz_NEUER_BAUM/English/DEKT36_International_Programme.pdf

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (Senior Bishop and Principal Leader of the Church of England) tweets about Obama at Kirchentag:
“Grateful to spend time with @BarackObama, Chancellor #Merkel and Christian leaders at #Kirchentag in Berlin today. #dekt17”


AND
“Thank you @BarackObama and Chancellor #Merkel for sending these messages to the people of #Manchester when we met in Berlin today.”

Molly


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