Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther began to walk away from the rigid, judgmental system the Church had become. God had revealed grace to Luther and as he embraced grace, he was transformed. He also began to see the un-Christlike behavior of Church leaders and challenged them. Other people began to see what Luther was seeing and began to step away from that old system, as well. The Reformation had begun.
To reform is to remold or reshape. The Reformation, therefore, was a reshaping for the Church. In the old Reformation, it resulted in a new denomination, but continued to challenge the old orthodoxies. The leaders of the church of that day were propagating rules and punishment. It was as far from the Gospel as death is from life.
As many of us know, Mr. Luther posted his thesis, spelling out the error of the Church of that day. It didn’t win him any popularity contest, but it sure woke up some folks.
Another Reformation is Beginning
Many old, errant orthodoxies that are based on weak or loose interpretations of scripture or speculative reason, are being questioned, challenged and refuted.
Today, there is no single Reformation leader. God is inspiring and speaking to many, many people, most of whom are not pastors or leaders. They are refusing to adhere to the old, false teachings or bow to the fear. They are becoming aware of the legalistic, judgmental teachings and how traditions have become requirements. They are waking up, once again, to grace and the love of Jesus.
Today’s political climate in the US has been instrumental in revealing the true nature of the portion of the Church (considered Evangelicals, the Christian Right or the Religious Right) and many church leaders. As much as I hate the “us vs. them” mentality, especially within the Church, there is a chasm being broadened between those who propagate false, judgmental doctrines and those who do their best to represent the true Gospel of Jesus.
This chasm is more serious than mere doctrinal disagreement. It is a matter of true, Biblical based teachings and following Christ as compared to teachings that are judgmental, sexist, racist and basically, anti-Christ.
Overall, we have become a people who are overly concerned with bashing the sins of those who do not follow Jesus, while we have some grievous sins being committed right under our noses. This once happened in the Early Church.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
My grandmother once taped a quote on my bedroom door that read, Clean up the world tomorrow. For now, just clean up your room.
The point, in this case is, we tend to judge those outside of the Church while we have serious issues right at home.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
This was a problem in Corinth. I am not sure about the rest of the world, but similar are problems in the Church in the United States (As Solomon so well put it, there is nothing new under the sun). Like the Church in Corinth, people boast and brag while the real sin is behind their own front door.
This is about the Church, not about people outside the Church (unsaved). Paul directly addresses the church at Corinth. Believers. Christians. Followers of Jesus. He mentions a few sins as examples in verse 10. These weren’t unsaved people Paul was addressing, but those who proclaimed Christ, behaving in destructive ways, all the while bragging and boasting.
This reminds me of what is being made more plain among the Church, today. Many among us are telling the world how (sometimes specific) people are going to hell unless they “receive Jesus” and repent of their evil sin. Meanwhile, some of these same men are involved in adultery, pornography, pedophilia, financial impropriety or other destructive behavior, often while their followers and/or friends ignore, hide or even approve of what they do.
Subsequent posts – just a few – I would like to address the extremes we see, which are on either side of an issue. One side says judgment, while the other side justifies advocating of sins. Both sides misuse and misinterpret scriptures or even use/add illogical reason in order to prove their point. I might even tackle some pat phrases which may not be entirely accurate according to scripture.
With that, I will challenge a few old doctrines. I have done this before, but some may do with a slight repeat.
Let’s see where this takes us and the reactions therewith. I shall wear a helmet, just in case.