Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is the Reformation Necessary Any More?

The Albert Mohler program had an interesting topic for discussion a couple of weeks ago. There is controversy surrounding the topic of whether or not the Reformation is still necessary today. In fact, one prominent author, Mark Noll along with Carolyn Nystrom, pose the question “Is the Reformation Over?” in their book by the same title. They apparently seem to make a case that both Protestants and Catholics have perhaps moved closer together rather than moving farther apart. They site many changes including the outcome of Vatican II.

But what people need to remember is that the fundamental doctrinal stance of the Roman Catholic Church has not changed, and a careful reading of the latest Catholic catechism should prove that. Most of the changes have been mainly cosmetic, with most of the core beliefs remaining the same. Even a recent proclamation by the Vatican affirms their belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church. (Al Mohler commented on this back in June) At least they are now being honest and evangelicals should take notice that Rome has not genuinely changed. And they are on an aggressive campaign to win back former Catholics, as well as evangelizing new converts. Even utilizing strategies mimicking evangelicals. And the so-called ecumenical partnering with evangelicals has dubious intentions.

Some have concluded that the Reformation was a mistake, or the intent has been accomplished and now we need to build bridges with Rome. But I think that these conclusions are a result of not understanding the key issues that are still remaining. Not least of which is the doctrine of justification. And the current shallow state of evangelicalism does not help matters either. The average church-goer has little understanding of what the Bible teaches and the current trend does not look promising.

I hold to the view that the Reformation is still certainly necessary. In fact, we need another reformation to lead the church today back to solid Scriptural footing.

Unfortunately, the attitude that seems to pervade much of evangelicalism is that of indifference, or at times hostile to the principles of the Reformation. This is especially true of the attitude projected by many in the emerging church movement. But the attitude is not unique to the emerging church. It is pervasive of the evangelical church in general. And it has been for quite some time.

In fact, Rick Warren has called for a new Reformation, a reformation focusing on deeds rather than creeds, and in a sense, tends to deemphasize the importance of beliefs by emphasizing deeds over beliefs. And this can be seen in his approach to ministry. Let’s take for instance, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven program.

This program is implemented by a whole host of denominations. This includes Roman Catholics. Holy Family Parish in Illinois was one of the first Catholic Churches to utilize Rick Warren’s approach. The purpose driven program is apparently so adaptable that Catholics can use it as a tool to evangelize people utilizing their doctrinal perspective. This should underscore its fundamental weakness and Rick Warren’s careless approach to fundamental doctrine. Don’t kid yourself; the RCC is on an aggressive campaign to win back former Catholics, as well as to win new converts. Catholics want to paint a picture that they are just another evangelical church, when their beliefs are different from us at very crucial points. Of course today, the average evangelical really knows little about his faith, so they really don’t understand the important differences.

Yes, the Reformation is still necessary after 500 years when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Whittenberg Church. The same crucial issues still divide Catholics and Evangelicals. Unfortunately, too many evangelicals do not understand their faith well enough to understand these differences.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right about the RCC wanting to win people to their church! After having worked with and lived alongside several Catholics, I have seen this firsthand. Now, I have to say that there are what I would call sacramental Catholics who would not qualify for this charge - you know the ones that just go for mass and confession and major holidays and are basically clueless about Christian doctrines. But the rest are being encouraged on every level to be very aggressive toward Protestants and others to bring them into the RCC. I have seen so called "tent revival meetings" going on at a RC church, complete with a RC apologist speaker - billed as an evangelist (former protestant Scott Hahn was the speaker). I have also seen the Alpha program used in the RCC to bring people in. They also use lifestyle evangelism and are very winsome, likeable people. They are often very servant minded and willing to help others. they pretend to be ecumenical and that "it doesn't matter" what church you go to. But all the time it is a program to bring you in. The charismatics in particular have been fooled because for a time the RC church was claiming to be having a charismatic revival and many charismatics began to work and worship along with them. In our day, many protestants are lulled in by our current ecumenical leaders (Billy Graham and J.I Packer just to name a couple). And we do not know our Christian history, sadly, so we don't realize that in the past Christian martyrs died at the hands of Roman Catholic leaders. They were put to death because they worked to make sure we could have the Bible in our own language, and they also denied the RCC teaching that the communion wine and bread were really Christ's body. I would guess that 9 out of 10 Christians do not even know why we were called protestants. Please continue to raise the red flag on this issue and carefully explain why it matters. Hopefully many will come to realize what is at stake.

AuthenticTruth said...


Thanks for your comment. It is sad that few Christians have any understanding of Church history and do not understand the theological issues. It is also sad that even some otherwise astute theologians as J.I. Packer get caught up in this as well. We do need to continue to warn and emphasize why the differences are important. They are indeed crucial.