The Third Reformation

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. ― C.S. Lewis

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)

“O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.”

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)

Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 119:105-112
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

PRAYER FOCUS: The Third Reformation.

Orthodox. adj. 1. Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion. 2. Adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds.

The word sounds so…musty. Like the out-of-style coat hanging at the very back of your closet, this term “orthodox” recalls familiar, yet bygone, days. What meaning, what value does it have in today’s modern vernacular and progressive world values?

Simple—orthodoxy connects us to the truth. And we desperately need that connection today.

Contrary to the expository of atheists, agnostics, and some purveyors of “progressive” theological views, there is such a thing as Absolute Truth.

God’s Word is transcendental: It doesn’t change, it hasn’t changed, and it will never change. In a world full of uncertainty and moral relativism, this is wonderful news. God is the same today as he was yesterday, same as a thousand years ago, same as ten thousand years from now. There is great peace in knowing God’s love never changes and His promises are steadfast.

Orthodoxy is simply getting back to the precepts of that Faith. Any time a sports figure gets into a performance slump, the return to excellence begins with embracing the fundamental disciplines that produced excellence in the first place. Likewise, the church of Jesus Christ today must return to the fundamentals of Faith as expressed by our Lord Himself, and as laid out by the early church fathers like Paul, Peter and James.

Dr. Os Guinness gives a lecture he calls “Challenging the Darkness.” He points out that the unhappy place the church finds itself in today is not without precedent…

During the First and Second Protestant Reformations, the church had stumbled into disarray. It had lost its way. It was cloistered and contained behind its own walls. Corruption was rampant. Before the church could once again move forward in the Truth, it had to move backwards to rediscover its roots. The church needed to be re-formed before it could resume its primary mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ and transforming the world. This return to orthodoxy was not a reactionary move, but rather an intentional one, to avoid descending into a useless, compromised theology. Reformation required great courage, persistence and sacrifice on the part of those who led it.

The church has grown cold twice in its history. Many would argue that it has grown cold today.

In our time we have seen entire Denominations led astray by those who insist the church must conform to the world and not vice versa. Under the guise of progress, these world-conformers promote a set of values, e.g., “reproductive freedom” and “choice” (euphemisms for abortion), and permissive sexual behaviors that destroy lives and divide communities.

These so-called progressive theologians may argue that the Church must soften its moral stance in order to be relevant in today’s society. Without societal relevance, they say, all is lost. The Church must “stop judging” and become “more inclusive”. Coincidentally, every survey of churchgoers for the past two decades has revealed that there is no longer much difference between the behaviors of many Christians and worldly non-Christians, particularly where sexual behaviors are concerned.

This is not progress. This is the opposite of progress. It is devolution to what is base and low in our human nature. It is not a reflection of God’s image that we were created to be.

It is not judgmental to know, and to stand for, the difference between right and wrong. And while every sinner is included in God’s invitation to forgiveness and grace, every behavior is not. For one thing, asking for forgiveness requires acknowledging that one has done something wrong. If the distinction between right and wrong becomes blurred, it negates the fundamental need that should bring us to our knees before the Cross in the first place. Christians are called to choose better, to live higher than this.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2 NKJV). James asks, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:4 NKJV). C.S. Lewis warned, “If you adapt the gospel message to fit your times, you’ll have a comfortable and convenient theology…and it will be irrelevant to the next generation.” The Church is called to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, not transformed into what passes for popularity on social media or TV.

Eventually every tree is known by its fruit. The abandonment of orthodox strictures on work, marriage, sex and abortion have left countless individuals deeply wounded and scarred for life. No Christian in his or her right mind can look at such wreckage and say this is good fruit. The Church cannot illuminate the pathway to the world to come if it ceases to be the lamp that provides light against the darkness.

If we are to successfully challenge the darkness the Church cannot retreat behind sanctuary walls. If we are to have any hope of transforming the world and living up to our pivotal role in human history, the Church must return to its orthodox foundation. Much like a once-great team that has fallen into disarray, it’s time for the Church to intentionally return to the fundamental disciplines and truths that made her great in the first place. The way forward begins with a return to orthodoxy.

It’s Monday Morning. Thank you for praying with us. May the light of God’s Word be a lamp unto your feet throughout this week. May His light illumine the Church’s path forward as we pray for the Third Reformation.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

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