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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reformation Ramifications

The Anabaptist groups of the Radical Reformation that began in Switzerland and matured into the generally pacifist Mennonites were admirable in their simple love focused understanding of the Gospel and shunning of church authority. At times I view the visible church as a hungry monster that greedily feeds itself at the expense of true disciples. I think Luther and subsequent Protestantism were heading in the right direction; however, he was led to militant action which may have sullied his heart a bit. I don't believe it was recorded that Luther ever spoke in tongues, experienced a healing miracle, or word of wisdom, etc. as charismatics do today. Nor would I feel particularly comfortable bellowing a heart-felt hallelujah in the middle of worship in a Lutheran Church service. Yet, holiness was central to Luther's ideals and I believe the Ten Commandments were placed first in his Small Catechism because it was important to him for us to understand that God is wrathful against sin. Proverbs points out that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus told the Sadducees in Mathew 22:29, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God." I believe that, although heart faith can precede head faith, it can only be sustained and enriched by head faith. To know God is to trust in, lean on, and rely upon him. I don't equate head faith solely with theological or biblical knowledge either. I know some saints who cannot read, yet their experience has taught them that if it had not been for the Lord who was on their side, surely they would have perished. When people look at us, whom do they perceive we have been with? "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it (Acts 4:13, 14). And so, although creeds and course curriculum are important tools to aid in our ordering and understanding what God has revealed of himself to man, when it comes down to the measure of a disciple in the Reformation or any other era, we would do well to heed Matthew 7:16 and "know them by their fruits." The "fruits" are a result of the balance between head and heart faith that we seek as disciples of Christ.

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