Response to Jim Bublitz: Emerging Submerging of the Reformation

 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
words that many of you will find distasteful. [Go ahead and say it or your readers will assume i said something worse than i actually did. The word i use is "poop" and "poopslide" to express the meaning of the Greek term used in Jude. If you have a better translation of that word, please share it. John Macarthur said "Jude uses a Greek word for
"garment" that signifies underwear and a word for "polluted" that means
"stained in a filthy manner; spotted and stained by bodily functions".
He is comparing the defilement of false teaching to soiled underwear."
] That’s the Emerging Church that we’ve come to  expect.

  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.]

Let the Reformation continue. Others: Reformed Trombonist and  check out Campi who is always  seasonal this time of year, even if he comes from a different angle than me.

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?]

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

47 Comments

  • Andrew here’s a quote from one of those “heretical catholics”, Thomas Merton, that I worth keeping in mind with all of this;
    “The dread of being open to the ideas of others generally comes from our hidden insecurity about our own convictions. We fear that we may be ‘converted’ – or perverted – by a pernicious doctrine. On the other hand, if we are mature and objective in our open-mindedness, we might find that viewing things from a basically different perspective – that of our adversary – we discover our own truth in a new light and are able to understand our own ideal more realistically.”

  • Mate I was thinking the reformation conversation seems very ‘Magisterial-centric’ (did I just invest a word?). I don’t understand why we let Calvin or Luther set the bar for “orthodoxy”. What about the radical wing of the reformation that insisted orthodoxy lay in the witness of the early church and were therefore willing to die but not kill for Christ.
    I feel embarased that the conversation gets so nasty.
    While we don’t kill our brothers and sisters today over difference (although I did hear Driscol threaten it… he’s a funny boy) we still don’t think loving each other means not attacking each other. Why is that? What about Jesus’ Lordship in this area? If we really think each others in error should there not be tears in prayer for one another not ‘virtual burnings’. I think the church is still in need of a savour who rejects violence, and I think we have one in Jesus.
    Surely these conversations can be opportunities to for the church to journey deeper in the process of sanctification, of ‘divination’ as the Orthodox have put it, in become more Christ-like. If we can’t love our sisters and brother well how are we going to love our enemies?
    Thought you might be interested in this:
    http://www.backyardmissionary.com/2007/10/jesus-camp-scares-me.html

  • As a fan of Owen Chadwick, you might also wish to read Diarmaid McCullouch’s “magisterial” (pun!) account called: “Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, 1490-1710”, a more recent overview with more recent research and historiography worked in.

  • Hey Andrew. I for one really liked what you had to say about the Reformation, although I think it’s always important to emphasize that the Reformers tried to reform the Church universal according to the word of God – not that I think anyone would deny this.

  • Andrew, great response/reflections. Jerod, like wise! Jerod your comment about Calvin/Luther setting the bar rather than other “wings” of the reformation is significant.

  • Andrew:
    There’s a lot to respond to here, and I don’t think I can do it in a comment, but let me hit a couple of points:
    First of all, please accept my apologies for the one ‘Anthony’ slip. I will fix that and the typos; can you proof read all of my stuff for me? Just the spelling though, and not the views 🙂
    I’ll have to look at some of the history sources that you cited above, but suffice it say – it’s possible to find people with PhD’s who will say almost anything to support a bias. And when church history has been saying something for centuries, and then along comes somebody new, saying “something new” (or at least saying something rare) then it ought to cause us to wonder.
    In your original post you mentioned the bias that you used to be under, and I think it’s fair to say that you are implying above that I am pinned to that same bias, but I am reading a bias all over the place in these two posts of yours Andrew. Take for example one of your sources “A History of the Ecumenical Movement”; that’s a book with as much bias towards finding ecumenical things to say as a history book entitled “The Greatness of Martin Luther” would have towards exalting Luther. Both ought to cause us to question.
    In this post, you say that you feel there’s much to be celebrated about the Reformation, but I wonder if it’s the same things that Christians have been celebrating for centuries. Do you mean, it is to be celebrated because it merely got everyone thinking, or got everyone in the mode for some helpful changes in which we would all treat one another better? Or do you mean it should be celebrated as a time when God liberated the true Gospel from the hands of a false religious system? That’s what Christians have celebrated about it for centuries, but your new take on things seems different than that.
    That leads me to a question that I asked you on my blog, and one which you never answered, and that is: Did the protestant martyrs who died under the Queen Mary Tudor die unnecessarily according your view? I’m still interested in knowing your opinion of that. The question is one of principle and beliefs, and not one of glorifying humans (the martyrs). Aside from your alternate view of the Reformation, the thing that is sure to make many of us wonder whether you (as well as many who follow the Emerging Church Movement) have gone off the ecumenical deep end are thoughts like this, from your post in which you fellowshipped at a Catholic gathering:
    “Reinhold brought an apology for his previous prejudices and anti-catholic biases, but he was speaking for all of us. … We embraced each other as brothers in one family.”
    “This is a little movie of Reinhold and Mattheo hugging each other after asking forgiveness for not acting like a Christian family.”
    “so I need to be part of the solution that sees Christ body starting living together now, in preparation for the life to come. Even if that means breaking some of my own taboos.”
    Andrew, if you really think that those who believe in and follow the Roman Catholic system are part of a “Christian family”, part of “Christ’s body” and “brothers” in Christ, then it’s no wonder that your views are so different about the Reformation.
    If I’m misunderstanding you on your points above, I’m willing to revise my viewpoint. I don’t want to misrepresent you. Thanks for letting me comment.
    –Jim

  • It is a common belief that when you get close to actually killing a sacred cow, that those that have never checked the actual ownership of that cow will tell you that they own it and you cannot kill it.

  • Jim, thanks for turning up and commenting.
    Please do check those sources. I think you will find that Bishop Stephen Neill is one of the most well respected mission and church historians of last century. I would not take his view, or those who accept it, to be “alternative” by any means.
    Likewise with Owen Chadwick of Cambridge, the other source. However, as you said and I hinted at, they are all biased towards making a point just like the rest of us.
    And no, the martyrs did not die unnecessarily – as i already said on your blog – their sacrifice paved the way and was an acceptable gift of worship. I have had associates get killed on the mission field. It continues today, in some ways with greater numbers.
    But there is a difference in being persecuted for living godly and, on the other hand, finding biblical cause for violence or abuse. And this is where i see some fundamentalists headed.
    As for the charismatic Catholic church where a few of us were invited to preach, it was almost identical to a typical charismatic service – no Mary worship, Hillsong choruses and contemporary worship. Not my scene actually, shoot – i am a baptist – but the presence of God was there and yes – I believe that many there were believers in Christ. Sorry if your theology does not allow for that but thats the way i saw it. And if they invited me back to preach again, i will probably accept because i love to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to whoever will listen.

  • Andrew:
    No, actually – my theology does allow for redeemed people to be sitting in the pews of a Catholic church, but I think you are escaping the key language that I’ve been using in discussing this with you, relating to what is believed by them. Are you saying that this Catholic group that you visited (yes, no mary worship THAT day, but did you go to church with them on a Sunday?) might actually believe in Rome’s way to salvation and yet still be saved? If so, you are parting with centuries of protestant thought. You can keep painting me as narrow minded and owning the sacred cow (Richard Clarke above) but why should anyone abandon centuries of Christian belief and run after some new innovative thinking by a group that is currently but a small blip on Church History’s radar screen? I’m not suggesting blindly following the past, but traditional protestant beliefs should have some magnetic pull on us that at least makes it hard to escape it’s orbit. I don’t see that here. I see a willingness to throw out the baby with the bath water, and invent something new.
    If you are saying that the Tudor martyrs were right to make their stand for the reasons that they did (correct me if that’s not what you are saying) then that should have a polemic effect on you. It can’t just be “right for them” but not “right for you” if you were in a similar situation; truth is old, and what was worth standing for before is worth standing for now. Do you agree?

  • “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 practice 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.
    “But as soon as falsehood has forced its way into the citadel of religion, as soon as the sum of necessary doctrine is inverted, and the use of the sacraments is destroyed, the death of the Church undoubtedly ensues, just as the life of man is destroyed when his throat is pierced, or his vitals mortally wounded. This is clearly evinced by the words of Paul when he says, that the Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone,” (Eph. 2: 20.) If the Church is founded on the doctrine of the apostles and prophets, by which believers are enjoined to place their salvation in Christ alone, then if that doctrine is destroyed, how can the Church continue to stand? The Church must necessarily fall whenever that sum of religion which alone can sustain it has given way. Again, if the true Church is the pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Tim. 3: 15,) it is certain that there is no Church where lying and falsehood have usurped the ascendancy.
    Since this is the state of matters under the Papacy, we can understand how much of the Church there survives. There, instead of the ministry of the word, prevails a perverted government, compounded of lies, a government which partly extinguishes, partly suppresses, the pure light. In place of the Lord’s Supper, the foulest sacrilege has entered, the worship of God is deformed by a varied mass of intolerable superstitions; doctrine (without which Christianity exists not) is wholly buried and exploded, the public assemblies are schools of idolatry and impiety. Wherefore, in declining fatal participation in such wickedness, we run no risk of being dissevered from the Church of Christ. The communion of the Church was not instituted to be a chain to bind us in idolatry, impiety, ignorance of God, and other kinds of evil, but rather to retain us in the fear of God and obedience of the truth.”
    Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, Book 4, Chapter 2

  • Can I simply ask Jim, in the light of your comment “Did the protestant martyrs who died under the Queen Mary Tudor die unnecessarily according your view?” Do you believe that the many Catholic martyrs murdered by Protestants during the period died necessarily?”

  • Can I also add the question “why should anyone abandon centuries of Christian belief”… what about 12 centuries of Christian belief?

  • I am grateful to you, Andrew, for willingly entering the conversation here…and for a fresh perspective based on a balance of right behavior AND right doctrine.
    I now have to find a way to get a cleansing breath from the Holy Spirit and keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in the sacred cow pies that seem to be everywhere! ;^)
    I am quickly learning the wisdom of the saying: “Don’t feel the trolls.”
    Oh…and thanks so much for including the sistren, bro!
    Blessings.

  • Mark:
    I seriously doubt that there were any “Catholic MARTYR’s” that died at the hands of regenerated Christians, can you give us an example from church history of one?
    Why abandon 12 centuries? I’m not advocating abandoning it all, but church history shows a clear pattern of “doctrine creep” in which over that time span things slowly started to creep away from the Gospel and the scriptures. To whatever degree that has happened to protestants in recent years, I say the same thing; there’s a need to go back to what we once believed.

  • huh …
    truthfully, i am wondering if the real argument underneath the surface here is about “true” versus “truth.”
    i guess i always understood that we are saved by placing our trust in the One who is True, Jesus Christ, not by believing truth. thus, there is room for imperfect and incomplete understanding – which all who are catholic, or orthodox, or reformed, or anglican, or radically reformed, or fundamentalist, or evangelical, or etc. all suffer from – yet still find salvation in Christ.
    if salvation is by beliving The Truth, then how can anyone be saved – it would require perfect knowledge – and anyway, our salvation would then be in The Bible, not in the One who is The Living Word.

  • Not to mention Thomas Muentzer. Not to mention Calvin’s -execution- of suspected witches and those with heretical views.
    “Your side killed more people than our side did,” is rather a sick statement, in my view. Christians advocating and carrying out killings in the name of Jesus, for any reason, are the biggest shame and scandal of the church, and unfortunately only a very few groups are not guilty of this.
    Andrew said: “But there is a difference in being persecuted for living godly and, on the other hand, finding biblical cause for violence or abuse. And this is where i see some fundamentalists headed.”
    There is NO “biblical cause” for violence and abuse. There is no such thing as redemptive violence. We follow a Lord who was led like a lamb to the slaughter, who did not defend himself. How Jesus must grieve over what has been done in the name of doctrinal purity- he who gave us a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” To those who asked what the greatest commandment was, he replied, love God and love the suffering human being right next to you.
    To go into my personal history would impinge on Andrew’s blog hospitality; suffice it to say that I am so very tired of the RCC being equated with Babylon. As Andrew pointed out, it no longer has either political or economic power. And a lot of RCs do a spectacular job of loving the suffering human being next to them in the name of Jesus, simply because he said to do so, not to “earn salvation”.

  • p.s. that this is unfolding on “all saints day” is intriguing.
    saints are holy ones, and salvation – according to the Greek NT – has three tenses: we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.
    so, isn’t sanctification a legitimate means of testing (both pyrazo and dokimazo – sorry for my bad transliterations from Greek) who truly is saved? but it takes perseverance in relationship. if we stick around people long enough, we’ll see by evidences of salvation, both a stronger truth-index AND a Christ-changed lifestyle.
    actually, all saints day is the paradoxically and providentially perfect day to speak of who Christ owns. i am sad, though, that we have become onerous for Christ …

  • Brad:
    It’s a logical fallacy to say that knowing anything is true requires perfect knowledge of the thing; the Trinity being one example. Christ is truth, yes, but that does not mean that this is where truth stops. Search my site for a Carson article in which he provides a whole list of things and people in the bible who speak truth or are representing truth. We are saved by putting our trust in Jesus, yes, but who is He? And, which Jesus, this one? http://www.infantjesusshrine.com They say that’s the one in the bible, on that site. We need biblical truth to define Jesus for us.
    Dana says “Calvin’s -execution- of suspected witches…”.
    Cite a reputable history source please? Perhaps a seminary history text book or something that has sold more than 100 copies on Amazon.
    Those of you bringing up “your side killed people” or “everybody killed people” are missing the point, which was whether the Tudor martyrs made a mistake in dying instead of simply taking a more ecumenical “lets all get along” stance. Perhaps they could have said to the Queen, “you might be right about the bread and wine, we don’t have perfect vision of biblical things, we are not necessarily saying you are wrong” and then walked away. Why didn’t they? Would you? Would Andrew? I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking. It was important to those old saints, but it doesn’t seem very important on this blog, to be honest.

  • jim, your point might be well taken under one reading of my comment on ‘true’ and ‘truth,’ however i’m not sure you apprehended the reasoning underneath my use of capital letters in everything. and i would add a word of caution to all of us on how we rely on logic(s) and what logic(s) we rely on, as there may well be more kinds of logical forms used in Scripture – which i do take as inspired, special revelation, inerrant in the original manuscripts – than typical of Western theologies.
    i wish this weren’t such a tedious process, but then, perhaps biblical theology takes a long time to say anything, as does anything in Old Entish, and hopefully what is said is worthwhile.

  • Brad:
    Logic, while it may be leaned on too heavily, is an inescapable reality that we all function through. It’s not something that’s “western” only. That is more emergent-speak I’m afraid.
    How about taking a turn at my question now. Same question about the Tudor martyrs that I asked Andrew.

  • “Men and women were burnt for witchcraft. Gruet was beheaded for sedition and atheism. Servetus was burnt for heresy and blasphemy. The last is the most flagrant case which, more than all others combined, has exposed the name of Calvin to abuse and execration; but it should be remembered that he wished to substitute the milder punishment of the sword for the stake, and in this point at least he was in advance of the public opinion and usual practice of his age.”
    Philip Schaff, “History of the Christian Church: Modern Christianity: The Swiss Reformation. The Exercise of Discipline in Geneva”
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc8.iv.xiii.x.html
    I hope Schaff is reputable enough for you, Jim.
    The RCs should not have killed the Tudor martyrs. The English protestants should not have killed the RCs when the prot’s took political power. They were both wrong to result to killing on doctrinal grounds. Christians killing anyone in the name of Jesus, especially other Christians, is the biggest shame of the church.
    Jim, I’m sure you love God and are trying to follow Jesus the best way you know how. I ask you to please try to understand what Brad is saying in his comments. I don’t want to argue; it takes too much energy away from things I think are more valuable than arguing. May God keep you.

  • jim, i agree that logic is an inescapable reality, and that it’s not a Western thing only. one of my concerns is that Western theologies use a primarily philosophical logic derived from Greek epistemology and rhetoric. Eastern cultures have their own unique kinds of logic problems that taint their views of biblical theologies.
    if it sounded like my view is “emergent-speak” to you it may have been because i did not have time to detail my sources for my view, nor any nuances of the issues. however, my view comes not from emergent, but from earning a degree in linguistics, where i spent a significant amount of time focusing on logic, language, and rhetoric. the past 12 years, i have been developing analytical tools and frameworks to understand and interpret epistemologies, hermeneutics, apologetics, constructions of theologies, etc. etc., so we can avoid syncretizing our theology with our culture- and language-bound forms of “logic.” which is what, i would suggest, is a major issue among various branches of Christianity, just as what Dan R. on your blog seems to suggest, although i would likely take that thought into additional directions.
    and i’m not particularly inclined at the moment to respond to your question about martyrs, but may do that later.

  • Dana:
    I don’t want to keep you arguing if you have other things to do; I hope that just by my responding that I’m not keeping you here.
    Yes, Schaff is a good source, especially if you don’t sound byte him, and do your best to take in everything he’s saying in that chapter. For example, scroll up a little from where you pasted your Calvin executed witches idea and you’ll see this “But the Council introduced also coercive laws…”. Scroll down on the page and you’ll see this “The most cruel of those laws—against witchcraft, heresy, and blasphemy—were inherited from the Catholic Middle Ages, and continued in force in all countries of Europe, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, down to the end of the seventeenth century. Tolerance is a modern virtue”. Robert Reymond in his book on Calvin takes an honest effort at sorting all of this out, and is a good (ok, just slightly biased) read on this topic. Efforts must be made to understand the laws of the day (the Old Testament has some strict ones too), and what Calvin actually played a role in versus what the city councils did or did not do. If you don’t do that, then you are just spreading more internet rumors about a dead guy who people love to hate.
    I think you are still not addressing my point about the martyrs though.

  • This is all. I need to go help some kids in my local public school learn how to read.
    Thanks for the context. Yes, I addressed your comment about the martyrs. Let me say it again. It was wrong for them to be killed. Killing in Jesus’ name is WRONG no matter who does it. The established church should have simply let them alone. As Andrew said, it is up to God to decide who is regenerate. What they were addressing was important. There should not have been killing over it.

  • Dana,
    Should the witches who were killed under the Old Covenant have been killed? How do you know that killing in Jesus name is wrong? It isn’t that I don’t agree with you, but how do you know?
    Dan R.

  • Dana:
    My question wasn’t whether the killing was wrong, it was whether the protestant’s response (those who were killed) was necessary for a Christian in that situation. So, you are still missing my point.
    There are accounts of godly protestants being beaten in Catholic prisons for refusing to attend Catholic church (search my site for the historic account of Blanch Gamond), but today Andrew feels fine visiting one, and even referring to them as brothers in the family of Christ (see my quotes from Andrew above). What happened? Where did this ecumenical spirit come from? And if it’s right for Andrew, why doesn’t that necessarily mean that it was right for the Tudor martyrs, hence – they didn’t have to die! That’s the issue that I’m trying to explore here, but I’m not getting a lot of cooperation (just a lot of “the reformers sinned too” or “murder is wrong” kind of answers).
    If we were to dig to the bottom of that question, perhaps we would be closer to understanding Andrew’s alternate views on the Reformation. Alternate meaning: very different from protestants for the last 500 years.

  • Jim,
    Folks aren’t answering your question about the Tudor martyrs because it’s such an obvious rhetorical trap. If you really want to discuss the question, disarm the trap and put your real issue out on the table.

  • Forest:
    I’ve stated openly where I’m going with it. I don’t see how it can be a “trap”.
    Somebody has to be wrong; the tudor martyrs or Andrew’s acceptance of Catholics as being in the family of Christ. They can’t both be justified in their actions towards Catholics.
    I will give you my bottom line on this whole point though. If you treat people who need salvation and do not yet have it, as though there is nothing wrong or that they need not change, and if eternal endless destruction awaits those who are not in Christ, then you are being unloving towards them, not more loving. You have made yourself the cancer doctor who wont tell people of the seriousness of their disease, nor of the only cure. Andrew jokingly asked me above whether I’d support his missionary work. Maybe I will when I see evidence that he is a good cancer doctor, as all missionaries should be.

  • Pretend that Andrew’s answer is “No, the Tudor martyrs didn’t have to die”. What’s your response?

  • My response would be: “That helps to explain Andrew’s view on the Reformation”. If somebody doesn’t think the distinction between Catholics and Protestants is a big deal, then of course the Reformation isn’t a big deal either. The two go hand in hand.

  • Well…I try not to feed the trolls, but…
    Jim, it seems to me that there are more than just two possible answers (right or wrong) to your question about the Protestants and RCs killing each other/being willing to die over their understanding of doctrine and their ability to wisely discern spiritual truth in both word and deed.
    They can’t both be right, but they can both be wrong…heck, they can even both be partially right and partially wrong. Happens all the time.
    Lots of things have changed over the last few hundred years…some for the better, some for the worse. I think we will always be fine tuning our understanding…I’m looking for more of a two steps forward one step back than one step forward two steps back…as long as there is some forward movement by those moving in good faith toward Christlikeness.

  • The Anabaptists understand Acts as a participative, all-body led community, with “leaders” as mature servants. Jim, it’s well documented that some of the reformers executed Anabaptists for these beliefs.
    Luther and Calvin failed to reform the inherited (Catholic) dualism of lay and clergy – which probably started when Ignatius created the office of “bishop” circa 100AD. Luther/Calvin/Zwingli failed to reform the man-made concept of “professional Christianity.”
    Luther said “God speaks through the preacher… he is set apart… an angel of God… a very Bishop sent by God… a King and a Prince in the Kingdom of Christ… he is the mouth of Christ… the mouth of all of us… therefore you ought to listen to the pastor not as a man, but as God.”
    I sense in all streams of the emerging movement a deep concern that we’ve drifted far from simple NT ecclesia, and that the Reformation didn’t go far enough in reclaiming the organic church – the “old truth.”
    Your question “which Jesus?” is the right question. I’m convinced that in spending our time seeking the depths of that question we cannot help but grow closer to Jesus. Some of us are more apt to keep moving, keep questioning, while some of us want to stop and build a shrine to our own understanding. BOTH camps can love Jesus just as much, and be loved of him just as well, though the former lean more liberally towards Mark 9:40 🙂 (and, yes, I read 2Tim3:7 as a fluid process, not a final place of arrival).
    Anyway, Jim, good to see you here. (hi peggy!)

  • John:
    Did you read my earlier comments? Just wondering, because we are back onto the “reformers were sinners” again (yawn). I won’t respond further on that point other than to say that you won’t define the reformers with sound bytes of Luther or by overlooking loads of dirty laundry by the Anabaptists. The Reformation was more complex than that. I’m glad to see you at least agree that there is a need to ask “which Jesus?”. To answer that we need biblical truth. As someone once said, Jesus comes to us clothed in doctrine. I hope that on your path to discovery and pondering you don’t overlook that which has been clearly revealed and treat that revelation as though it’s some mystery that we can only ponder.
    Dana:
    Some things are dualistic, right/wrong, true/false. Not everything has to have more than 2 choices, or multiple variants. There are vegetarians in this world and there are non-vegetarians, nothing in between; if you eat meat – your not one; that simple. The doctrines involved in the conflict between the tudor martyrs and the Catholics are still in effect today; culture doesn’t change them, and should not change our perception of them. I don’t agree with your suggestion of the martyrs being just partially right for dying. That won’t go over very well outside the Emerging Church. Protestants for the last several centuries have understood their deaths as a necessity of their beliefs.
    Anyway, Andrew – it’s been interesting. I appreciate your letting me comment here. My experiences with Emergents often involve F-word’s in my comment queue and nasty-grams, so this has been refreshing. I wish we could have dealt with the key points that I was bringing up, but perhaps another day. Unless something really compelling shows up here (something more than “Luther/Calvin sinned”) I probably won’t be back on this thread.

  • Oops, in my last post I called Peggy “Dana”. Sorry Peggy. Also, I’m not sure you can fully call me a “troll” since my very name is in the title of this post. I think that means I own, maybe . . . 10% of the post <--- it's an unwritten internet rule that I just made up 🙂

  • Jim – what what i have read about you, you are still awake at 5am. you should have been a musician.
    hey – just want to say thanks for the conversation. and i think we have heard you saying that even if doctrine was not the primary goal of initiating the reformation (which i said in my post) then at least it became important and we should all strive for a deep reform that involves both doctrine and ethics. And the Word of God is the basis for that.
    much thanks to you for a congenial chat. every blessing to you in your ministry.

  • Jim,
    As the youngest of six, I’m used to being called by someone else’s name…I’m hoping Dana is okay with it (Hi, Dana). I am pleased that your experience here has been refreshing. It is so much more pleasant to have conversations without crankiness.
    I did want to clarify one thing, however. My understanding of the term “troll” must be different from yours (why am I not surprised? ;^) )– in that I did not know it was associated with anonymous comments. My understanding goes closer to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
    Certainly I agree that some things are dualistic…it’s the deciding what is and what isn’t that is challenging. And when one is dealing with issues of conscience and faith, it is very challenging to tell someone how they “must” believe. I think of the challenge in the ten Boom family between the majority of them (Casper, Willem, Corrie & Betsie) and Nollie over whether they were allowed to lie to the Nazis. The first group was willing to do this to save the lives of innocent Jews…Nollie wasn’t.
    Fortunately, God is bigger than all of our various understandings of it all, and as we ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate our understanding I pray that we will all become more and more like Christ…and less like trolls! ;^)

  • Jim: “Did the protestant martyrs who died under the Queen Mary Tudor die unnecessarily according your view?” This is the problem with this entire business of the Reformation, and all other wars over doctrine, the Bible, etc. Why do we have to kill each other (literally or literarily) in the name of Jesus? I like the emerging conversation because it is respectful of other views and persons. Not that we shouldn’t grapple with difficult concepts, but we need to stop far short of war in the name of God. We have enough of that now. — Chuck

  • Jim, I should have read all your comments before commenting on the martyrs. No, I would not die over trans, con, or non substantiation. That is a bit of theological silliness, in my estimation. Whether the martyrs should have done that or not, I don’t know. We are all captive to our own culture, and perhaps that was the equivalent then of ‘Jesus is Lord’ in the Roman empire. Don’t know and it is highly speculative at best. — Chuck

  • Chuck said: “This is the problem with this entire business of the Reformation, and all other wars over doctrine…”. Interesting though. So then you don’t agree with Andrew that the Reformation was NOT over doctrine, but you are apparently saying it was. Also, just your saying that the Reformation was a problem helps to confirm my thesis that Emerging folks want to “submerge” the Reformation. I’m sure there are some ECM folks who rejoice in what God did through the Reformation for the same reasons the rest of us protestants do, but I have not met any yet. Your description of the Emerging Church as being “respectful of other views and persons” is true, unless of course the other persons are fundamentalists; I have been called worse names by Emergents than anyone else I can think of.
    Andrew:
    You summarized me in your last comment by saying “we should all strive for a deep reform that involves both doctrine and ethics”, but to be more representative of what I said in my post, it would be more accurate to depict my view and the Reformers view as “ethics *DERIVING FROM* doctrine”. Orthodoxy that drives orthopraxy, and never orthopraxy isolated from orthodoxy. There may be some folks in my camp who appear to focus only on doxy, but if there is no praxy from them, then they are lacking a real doxy.
    Ok, I think that really is my last comment (I hope). Thanks again Andrew. PS: Tell your wife not to get so upset by a little ECM ‘bashing’; it’s all a part of the conversation we are having with you:-) We Reformed Christians are getting a bit of beating here too.

  • Thanks Jim.
    And please let me clarify that:
    1. I, for one, rejoice in the reformation. So now you have met one ECM type person who is happy to have his own Bible and the freedom to study it under the Holy Spirit, the freedom to start churches and help others start churches without permission from a group of old men in Rome.
    2. I never said the Reformation was not over doctrine. Please hear me again in my original post. I said the Reformation was not INITIATED over doctrine. Later on, doctrine became an important role but desire for doctrinal reform was not the motivation for the Reformation.
    3. Even when doctrine came into the picture, the Word of God was primary but the ecumenical creeds were very important. It was what the Church Fathers said about the Word of God as well as the Word of God. We Protestants tend to downplay the Tradition in fear of raising it to the standard of Scripture but in the process we often neglect its important role in the Reformation and in our own wrestling with Scripture today.
    may doxy and praxy be yours
    and ours
    today
    always intertwined
    never divorced
    always dancing
    the Spirit
    and the Truth
    one
    like God is one
    amen

  • Andrew,
    That was great… Jim and I go back a bit as he likes to make some historical changes on things himself…
    That last line of his is precious…
    “Lord bring us more men with the conviction of truth and the courage of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli.”
    If Jim read a little history, he would note that none of these great men really got along with each other…
    Luther said Calvin was too influenced by Zwingli, which according to Luther Zwingli was to much like the RCC… so Luther after reviewing Zwingli’s theology, never spoke to him again as he was not Reformed enough.
    So, I think as far as not getting along with each other, Jim holds to the traditions of his “oldtruth” forbearers well! LOL!
    Me I prefer the eternal truths, but then that would make me more like Bolinger… though I will not try to prove Adam and Eve are the original Protestants… I just can’t seem to make that case that would prove it to be a positive.
    Blessings,
    iggy

  • yeah, he might also read about the 3000 Anabaptists killed in Netherlands and the Peasants War (1524/1525) in which 100,000 were killed while Luther turned his back, and other non-niceties on behalf of our dear reformed fathers.
    but hey – who are we to throw a damp historical blanket on the Reformation Day celebrations?????????

  • My issue with the reformation is not good or the evil of it, but of the modern day whitewash and that so many have “sainted” these me in how they look at them. If you bring up Calvin was a murderer… you get assualted with “having RCC leanings” (is that a bad thing?) It is as if they have rewritten the past to accommodate their own beliefs… if it does not tickle their ears, it must not be true…
    I prefer to look at it as a whole and realize each person contributed something… while I might not agree with Zwilngi on one point and Luther on an another, or Calvin and Arminius (some forget he was a Reformer also!) we see it is then as it is today, a great many of views of what God’s word is all about.
    I many not ever get to be a New Monastic person… I love the idea, but God has me here in Montana and I am and will be about 5 years behind the curve so I have to stay a bit traditional… and that is fine with me.
    God, has not changed, and for that manner either has God… each walks his path and each hopes their steps are guided by Him.
    Somehow, I find that just living knowing that He is my Life… i am content, as one accepted because I am in Christ i have freedom to ask and search out questions. I may not fully understand predestination and my view may be wrong, but in the end I will meet my savior who will tell me all about it later. LOL!
    Be blessed,
    iggy

  • Interesting comments; but Andrew, I want to know if you really look like Peter O’tool in “Lawrence of Arabia” or are just trying to change your image. In most of your photos you appear rather tall and as we all know, (El)Lawrence was quite short.

  • Hi all
    What a great post!
    I was reading about the guy regarded as the first English protestant matyr- Nicholas Ridley, was met a spectacularly grisly end at the behest of Mary Tudor in 1555. Of course, there were lots of politics mixed in- he had been plotting against Mary.
    I had a discussion with my friends which was along the very same lines that Jim kept hammering with above- DID THE PROTESTANT MATYRS DIE UN NECESSARILY?, and if not, would I have been prepared to be burnt too?
    I think that my own sense of natural self preservation (which is how I like to describe my cowardice) might have made the decision for me.
    But also, I suspect that this issue is not realy about the rightness of doctrine, but the rather the use of POWER. I think the misuse of earthly power has been around at least as long as Babylon.
    So, I think that standing up for what you believe in the face of oppression and injustice is wonderful. TO lay down your life for this, is even more wonderful. Nicholas Ridley was caught up in political intrigue. He was a man used to manipulating power, so I do not think he can be my role model. But others who have done the same to support others who are being oppressed- for example Archbishop Romero- those people, Catholic or protestant, I honour.
    Did they die in vain those early protestors? No, I don’t think so. In their time, their protest against the unyeilding power of the political Church was necessary.
    I suppose the issue for us, is to decide where Babylon has been built in our time and culture…
    Blessings
    Chris

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