Saturday, January 20, 2007

The reformation

<idle musing>
Over the last year or so, I have been reading in different books that the reformation is over. There are various reasons advanced for it, such as postmodernism, or the "new" perspective on Paul, or this or that. Let me advance a slightly different reason.

I think the reformation is over for Evangelicals because they are just as much an administratively top heavy church, complete with their own "popes" as the Roman church is.

When I was in college we had a speaker in chapel once who talked of the "papacy of the popular paperback." That stuck with me, not just because of the alliteration, but because he spoke the truth. Well, I can say we have moved beyond that. Yep, it is no longer the papacy of the popular paperback, it is now the hegemony of the hottest hardback (I should copyright that!). As evangelicals, we have advanced to hardcovers! Isn't that a stride forward for the kingdom!

I would say the semper reformandum is no longer the cry of the Evangelical, or protestant for that matter, church. It is now "protect the status quo!" Let me keep my powerbase and extend it—all for the kingdom of God, of course! Is it not interesting that the very things that the late pre-reformation popes were accused of (loose sex, ostentatious living, building earthly kingdoms) are the very things that are now engulfing the big names in Evangelicalism? God is not mocked.

And where is the new reformation? Same place it always is, among the unnoticed things, the simple things. Look at the emerging church and the house church movement. That is where the new reformation is happening. Sure, they are less than perfect, but so was the 16th century reformation, and every one before and after it. But, if attacks from the established powers are any indication, it stands in the same tradition. Mind you, in a generation or three, this reformation movement will become the establishment and will probably end up persecuting and attacking the next reformation.
</idle musing>


Anonymous said...

Hi James
Your comments about power and status quo put me in mind of something I read of Peggy Noonan, commenting on the Bush Administration. She said, "When you get power, your next move is to keep power, and soon, that's the only move you have."

Say it ain't so!

jps said...


Yes, I remember that comment also. Scary thought. But, since Genesis 3 occurred, only too true. There is, of course, the possibility of allowing the grace of God to control, which would negate the thirst for power. But, I rarely hear that preached or talked about anymore. It is more of a "saved by grace, sanctified by works" that I hear and read–just look at all the self-help books in any christian bookstore. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Finney, et alii, are probably rolling over in their graves at what passes for christian teaching today.


Patrick G. McCullough said...

Amen! And I've just got to say that Anabaptism is where it's at :)