2007December30, Sunday

400 Years Here or There

Posted in History, The Church at 16:33 by Trey Austin

This is an excellent question.

An even better question, i think, is this: if it only took 400 years for the Church (a very small minority of the population of the world at the time) to go from persecuted back rooms and catacombs to cathederals and an almost universal Christendom, what have we been doing for the last 400 years (since the time of the Reformation) that has seen the absolute decline of our culture and the Chrstian world at large?



  1. Mike Spreng said,

    We have been splitting rather than dying. The early church died for what they believed. We run from what we believe. Also, big houses, new cars, and expensive/meaningless education is more important to us than reforming. Lord Have Mercy…

  2. tempe said,

    I would agree with Mike above: the difference is due (or at least one major factor) is the lack of persecution. The faithful churches in Revelation 2-3 were the ones enduring persecution; the two that were the most unfaithful had no indication of undergoing persecution.

    But it’s not all bad. Certainly, we have seen many wonderful things happen that grew out of the Reformation. The founding of this country, the modern missionary movement, the rise of science, the proliferation of Christian writings, etc. have all sprung from that fount.

    I was listening to John Frame, in a lecture, explain a theological/philosophical paradigm a few weeks back. I forget the exact terminology, but he located the pattern of a Formulator, Heretic, Warrior, and Systematizer that arose in various periods of history (though he only mentioned two). In the early church, it was Origen (he might have said Tertullian instead) as the Formulator, then Arius as the Heretic (the one who misunderstood, misrepresented, or misappropriated the theology of the Formulator). Then came the Warrior (my term, not his) who stood against the heresy (Athanasius in the early church), followed by Augustine as the Systematizer. During the Reformation, it was Aquinas (obviously preceding the Reformation, but his theology, or the misunderstanding of it, resulted in some of the abuses just prior) as the Formulator, then Tetzel (one might say Leo X instead), followed by Luther, and then Calvin. Perhaps we can look forward to a similar pattern in the future.

    And let us not forget that many have lamented in the same way in the past. Gregory, for instance, was convinced in his day that the end was near. Similar thoughts have been voiced throughout history. The truth is that none of us know, and that we are only looking at a narrow window of history in our day. That does not mean we should be content with mediocrity in the church (and it IS there). But our God does awesome things, and His plans can never be thwarted. Let us pray that He stirs up His people and brings about another “Reformation” that changes us for the good.

  3. Trey Austin said,

    I will always believe (unless the Lord himself tells me different when i meet him) that the lack of authority with which we operate as the Church in the world—we are scorned, derided, marginalized, ridiculed, and rejected, rather than being truly persecuted to death—is the direct result of our dissintegration of Christianity, so that we inherently have not the authority to speak to the world (nor, incidently, to one another, since ecumenical councils are impossible when we cannot regard another branch of the Church as one with ourselves enough to sit and work through doctrinal issues with one another) we would have if we weren’t completely divided and lacking all unity Christ prayed for in John 17. In other words, it is a judgment from God because of our being divided. Of course, this is not a tacit way of saying, “The Reformation was wrong.” The simple fact is that not only the Reformers have perpetuated this sectarianism, but the Romanists have as well, not to mention the Copts, the Eastern Christians, the Orthodox Christians, and those part of the various other “Catholic” groups, even the characterization of which as fully and completely “catholic” in themselves is laughable. The fact is that we are all guilty, precisely because we have been so scrupulous that we have refused to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, and we have refused to do so because we have regarded our theological eccentricities as ulimate. What that means is that, every time we have a theological disagreement, we either split ourselves or force others to leave and split the denominations we are in. Do we really have that much of a problem with a bit of doctrinal diversity?

  4. tempe said,

    I agree with your last comments, brother. How telling is it that one of the “forgotten Reformers” is the very one who attempted to be peace-maker: Martin Bucer?

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