Having a little protest seems to be the way to celebrate Reformation Day. This morning, Jim Bublitz of Old Truth.com took apart my Reformation Sunday post piece by piece. He wrote the post below entitled "The Emerging Submerging of the Reformation"
What I write now is a quick knee-jerk response to Jim's challenge to my blog post. I wish I had more time to respond more fully. See with what large GREEN letters I write with.
The Emerging Submerging of The Reformation, by Jim Bublitz
[Jim Bublitz writes in black] It's no secret that many in the Emerging Church Movement would prefer that this day be erased from their calendar.
[(Andrew Jones always writes in GREEN): Some of us see Reformation Day as an opportunity to celebrate our reformation influence and to reflect on our current reforming efforts. In fact, at an Emergent event hosted at John Knox's church in Geneva, we celebrated the Reformation and took a guidd tour to see all the effects of Calvin's ideas in this city. One thing that stood out to me was the top story of a row of houses that was built to accommodate the many homeless from other countries. HOSPITALITY was important to them and this is another wonderful thing from the Reformation that we dont seem to hear much about. - You see, its not about ERASING it, its about researching it and finding out what really happened and what we can learn from it]
No not Halloween, though I'm sure we won't find many Emergents out today wearing Martin Luther costumes. I am instead referring to Reformation Day. One critic of Emergent correctly noted the widespread historical revisionism in the Emerging Church, saying: "All the great heroes of the faith end up becoming fools. And the antiheroes - the fools who compromise and who don't take a stand - become the heroes. It's turning history on its head; they undo the Reformation so they can go back to a quasi-Christian, medieval spirituality".
That was John MacArthur who made those remarks in an interview about his Truth War
book. One reader of his book who won't be giving it a four star Amazon
review anytime soon is Emergent leader Andrew Jones. [actually i have no official role in Emergent Village apart from friendship and some history with Young Leaders Network] His distaste for
the book is stated in no uncertain terms, in fact, he says so in
But this post is not about foul language however, nor of Andrew Jones' distain for MacArthur's book [my concern is that the book is not accurate in its interpretations but thats for another post], but of Jones' interesting ??? take on church history as expressed in the Reformation post on his Tall Skinny Kiwi blog this week. The bullet points from Andrew's post are in red below, and I will briefly challenge his ideas in the text that follows. Hopefully afterwards, you'll have a better understanding of why Emergents so often have disdain for the greatest revival of the last 1,000+ years - the Protestant Reformation.
[No disdain. There is much to celebrate and learn from the Reformation. Praise God for it!! Look at our Bibles on our desks and praise God we have the freedom to read and interpret them. Even the Roman Catholics benefited from the Reformation]
1. The Reformers were committed to an ecumenical consensus of unity. They wanted to reform the whole church, not just one break-away segment that became the Protestant Movement. Sectarianism was not the intention.
It's true that while Martin Luther was still a Catholic monk, he endeavored to see changes made in the Roman Catholic church. But this quickly evaporated in the early days of the Reformation as it was clear that the Catholics were in no mood for sweeping reforms. It's interesting to hear Anthony [My name is Andrew. Anthony (Tony) Jones is the Coordinator for Emergent Village. We are often confused, despite me being much better looking.] Jones say that the "the Reformers were committed to an ecumenical consensus of unity" when in fact Luther broke unity even with other protestant Reformers, over sacramental doctrines. Take for example Luther's meeting with Ulrich Zwingli in which Luther refused to even shake hands with the Swiss Reformer afterwards, breaking unity with him over Communion. Luther's sentiments towards Rome were even more sectarian. Unfortunately, Andrew Jones' "unity" remarks only portray a limited portion of the story. The Reformers were indeed inclined to choose doctrine ahead of unity.
[There is disagreement here. Allow me to quote a well known historical source which shows the other side.
"Schism and disruption followed in the wake of the Reformation and the process has multiplied the number of autonomous units in non-Roman Christianity. Critical observers of this trend have often drawn the conclusion that Protestantism has at its heart a divisive principle by which it is irresistibly driven to complete disintegration. Many Protestants have acquiesced in this view, justifying it on the grounds of an unqualified religious individualism, which, with more rhetoric than research, they have professed to derive from the teaching of the Reformers. On the other hand, those who have really studied Reformation sources have found in them a consistent affirmation of the reality of the one Holy Catholic Church and a clear avowal of the principle of ecumenical unity.
. . . This revival of ecumenical concern accords with the spirit of the Reformers. They sought the renovation, not the disruption, of the Church, and hoped for its reunion. They unhesitatingly accepted the ecumenical creeds . . . "
A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, page 29-30, edited by Ruth Rouse and Stephen Neill]
2. If there is a Babylon the Great today, it is not the Roman Catholic Church. It is probably something closer and dearer to us.
How can he be so certain of who is NOT being referred to in Revelation? I wonder if whatever entity Andrew has in mind as a better fit, has the kind of track record that the Roman Catholic church has of martyring saints, disfiguring essential biblical doctrines, and installing a leader who is said to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth (amongst other blasphemous titles).
[Do you have a problem with certainty? It may have been clear to the Reformers in the 16th century who Babylon was for them but that does not lock it in for the rest of human history until Jesus returns. I don't see the Roman Catholic Church today (which is based in Vatican City, not Rome) ruling over the kings of the earth, or making the merchants of the earth wealthy, and I don't see a RCC military killing machine. Check out what the Catholics think about this.] The only religious power with that kind of capability, with both wealth and military power, is . . . well . . . thats another post.]
Like so many Emergents today, Andrew Jones seems more interested at times in having unity with Catholics rather than evangelizing them. Emergents may think they are being loving and charitable that way, but in reality it's extremely unloving to not tell them the truth. Andrew Jones goes so far as to offer apologies to Catholics for having once given them evangelism tracts [Yes. I REPENTED for obnoxiously posting tracts on their cars while they were in Mass], calling them a part of the body of Christ. [no - Only Jesus knows and affiliation does not guarantee salvation for Catholics or Baptists or anyone] I can only assume that much of his new thinking has influenced his statement of certainty regarding who Babylon the Great ISN'T.
[The charismatic Catholics I met in that instance you point to seemed just as redeemed as many Protestants. Jesus desired unity among his followers (John 17) and I see no reason to disobey. The charismatic movement, thanks to Calvary Chapel, has built a bridge between Protestants and Catholics. The Emerging church movement has not had the same effect. Catholics involved in emerging church ministry tend to stay Catholics and Protestants likewise. But there is a place for ecumenical unity based not on theological compromise but rather by common commitment to the mission of God]
3. If USA and England had as many Czech immigrants as they did German, history would probably show that the Reformation started much earlier and its geographic center was a few hundred miles eastwards of where we currently believe it to be. YES - I am talking about Jan Hus.
Everyone loves conspiracy theories I guess.
[Not everyone. I am much happier with an accurate picture of what happened. Luther's sympathy for the Husites was a turning point in the Reformation and he was seen in some places as a "reviver of the doctrines of Hus"]
The appeal of it to Emergents of course, is that Jan Hus of the previous century presents a more docile character to grapple with than the highly polemic Luther who once said:
"I was born to fight devils and factions. It is my business to remove obstructions, to cut down thorns, to fill up quagmires, and to open and make straight paths. But if I must have some failing, let me rather speak the truth with too great severity than once to act the hypocrite and conceal the truth."
[And the other side to Luther was this: Luther was more ecumenical than the Roman Catholic Church with his inclusion of the various sects considered heretical by the Roman Communion, like the Husites and Bretheren]
"Geographic centers" have little to do with the perception people have of the Reformation. There's no escaping the fact that God providentially used the Magisterial Reformers, along with the rulers of the land who were favorably disposed to cooperate with them, and let's not forget His timing of the newly invented printing press. What a shame it is that numerous Emerging Church blogs on this day will invest so much bandwidth attempting to discredit such an obvious work of God. [Finding the historical accuracy so that we have a truthful basis on which to celebrate is "discrediting" only to those that have been told a different story]
4. The Reformation was initiated NOT because of doctrinal purity, as commonly taught, but because of corruption in the use of power and wealth. Doctrinal reform was a bonus, but not the primary motivation.
[I was thinking of Owen Chadwick, Regis Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, on this one.
"When churchmen spoke of reformation, they were almost always thinking of administrative, legal, or moral reformation; hardly ever of doctrinal reformation. They did not suppose the Pope's doctrine to be erroneous. . . They not only wanted popes and bishops to be less secularized, monks to practise their rule, parish clergy to be more instructed. They sometimes talked of a theology which should be less remote from human beings, more faithful to the gospel, a faith that should be less external and more akin to the teaching of the Lord. But to gain this end they had neither desire nor expectation or anything which could be called a change in doctrine"
The Reformation, Owen Chadwick, page 13-14.]
Martin Luther certainly reacted to much of the moral corruption in the Catholic church of his day, and in fact - his 95 Theses was a very moral document. Had it not been for this corruption in the church, Luther may never have published his thoughts on Justification and other important doctrines. What's not reflected in Andrew Jones' remarks however, is the acknowledgement that the Reformers thoroughly understood the relationship between thought and deeds. In other words, they understood that the corruption sprouted from error. The Reformers knew that the moral abuses were driven by wrong thinking. The Emerging Church should take a page from the Reformers, as we so often find this movement's followers emphasizing "good works" detached from doctrinal truth.
[And what Jim neglects to say is that, in searching for the right "thoughts", that they accepted the ecumenical Creeds and in some cases (Headship of Christ) actually built on the knowledge of the Church Fathers.]
5. There is reform in the church today because there is corruption in the church today. God still cares about his church. So should we. The way we play with ecclesiastic power and the way we spend the Bride's finances should concern us all, not just our commitment to a common creed.
We can certainly agree with that. The Church today needs reform, where we radically disagree with Emergents is on how to go about it.
[And we may disagree on how far to reform structurally. Many of us in the emerging church movements are not content with the Catholic style hierarchical leadership system or the weekly mass type church service that did not change very much in the Reformation, despite Luther's original intentions towards house church. For this reason, many in the emerging church are attracted to the Radical Reformers like the Bretheren for their intentional communities and holistic lifestyles of hospitality, spirituality and craft.]
6. The emerging church might well be a protest (Don Carson) but it might also be a corrective measure to the excesses and imbalances of the reformation and the Enlightenment.
[nice graphics btw]
Or it may be a dangerous over-reaction to some of the problems that are especially pronounced in the evangelical church of the last century.
[Yes - Some go too far with the pendulum swing and there are many coming with a lot of baggage from their old churches]
The way we need to judge contemporary movements is to evaluate their truthfulness, and by this standard the Emerging Church Movement (and certainly Emergent Village) does not measure-up as a reliable source of guidance and leadership for the changes that are needed in our time.
[Jim, its a huge and diverse movement, spanning many countries and cultures, and one leader will not speak for everyone. I notice you are a Baptist, like me. Is the Baptist movement a "truthful" movement? We share a similar creed and yet we would never dare make general statements about Baptists like you made about the Emerging church, which includes many denominations and movements.]
Seasonal perhaps, but also - more historically accurate and less (not more) personally biased.
[I think we are all biased, if we admit it, and we all choose to read and blog-link people that share our personal bias. The list of links on your blog, for example, Jim, is a great example of like-minded linking that reminds me of the reality of the Donald McGavaran's homogenous unit principle. With my fundamentalist and reformed background, it was a stretch, initially, to read outside my world but I feel it is essential in reading history with perspectives other than our own or our own camp (no pun intended) so that we dont just reinforce our personal prejudices and conclude every study with "We were right after all!" If we are always right, we never have to repent]
I fully agree with Andrew Jones in recommending men like Steve Camp who will remind you of why PROTEST is part of the word "protestant", and has been for nearly 500 years.
[And may I add, for the benefit of your readers, the word "testicles". meaning "little witnesses" also comes from the word Protest.]
Reformation Day is one holiday that belongs on the calendar, though I can imagine those erasers [erasers?? - no - i challenge your readers to pick up a few books on the reformation that they have not read before or maybe books written by Anglicans and not just Reformed Presbyterians and for God's sake learn something NEW this year!] being out in full force today in Emergent households. While I do not fully agree with any of the Reformers on everything, their contribution to Christianity can not be denied. They were rough around the edges at times, some of Luther's choices of words [he used words much worse that "poop"] (which are often exaggerated with no context on the blogs of his enemies) would still draw objections from me in the same way Emergents do; I also disagree with some of the doctrinal lines that were drawn (or not drawn) in the Reformation. But for their time and circumstances we must recognize that which the Lord chose to accomplish through these men. The Reformation gave the Puritans and others a steady platform to improve upon in the years that followed, and the same has been given to us. Let's remember to pray for the revival that is so badly needed in the western world today. Lord bring us more men with the conviction of truth and the courage of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli.
[Amen. And more women also . . ]
[Jim, thanks for taking the time to assess my blog post. I appreciate your thoughts, even if i dont always agree with your conclusions. I guess this means your church will not be supporting us as missionaries this year?]