Friday, October 31, 2008

Semper Reformanda

Some mind-provoking thoughts:

The Reformation is actually a proper noun. It denotes a movement of the past. However, I’m arguing that those who are "truly Reformed"…should not consider their reformation as a noun as much as we should think of it actually as a verb. Namely, a call to further action. A call to constantly, constantly, uncomfortably, realign our lives, our churches, with the Word of God. I truly, genuinely feel that for some the concept of being Reformed is that outwardly, and even creedily, it is sufficient to adopt the values and the doctrines of the Reformation or the Reformers. And once those things are in place, then there’s no need to think ever again about changing, and any change proposed would naturally be the beginnings of apostasy, or decline at the least. In the faith, the Reformers were not men who looked back to a point in history and found a time from the past that they sought to duplicate. That wasn’t what the Reformers were about…They could appreciate and love the doctrine that those men set forth, but they did not seek in any way to duplicate what was done in the days before. Instead, they looked to the Word of God, and they wrestled with how they could be men who lived out and who represented God and His truth in their day. One of the underlying burdens of the Reformers was to ensure the Gospel and the truth of God was communicated to the people of their age…It would not therefore be in the spirit of the Reformers to look at them and to want to mimic them today. That’s not what reformation’s about. That’s not what they did. They didn’t look to previous reformers. They didn’t look into history and try to mimic. They went to the Bible, and they wrestled through the issues that they were facing in their day from the Bible, and they sought to address the people of their age from the Scriptures. Rather, it’s in the best spirit of those faithful men to search the Scriptures and then for us to seek to bring its message to the people of our day without changing the message…But change is a reality. It might be uncomfortable, but change is a reality… Should the church, should we, refuse to interact with cultural shifts, claiming that they must all be bad, we’re in great danger of confusing preferences for inspiration. We’re in great danger of failing to fulfill the Great Commission, which we have as going to the world with the Gospel, and I am sure that that means more than simply the globe, the geographical world. Rather, it means take the Gospel to the peoples, the different peoples who populate different parts of the world, who live in different ages. Our job is not to lift culture by ensuring that we confront them with the riches of the past. We should not be on a cultural crusade… We are the church, and the church is commissioned to live in our culture and face our culture with the Gospel. When our distinctive is counter-cultural in the sense that we are insisting a culture of the 17th century or the 19th century or whatever is “better,” we’ve lost our way…But we are counter-cultural in the sense that we get alongside the lost and tell them of their sin and tell them of the Savior.

- from a sermon by Robert Elliott


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