Some people believe that evangelicalism has reached a serious crisis point. I tend to agree. Professing Christians import worldly philosophies and practices at breakneck speed, leaving the faithful both breathless and bewildered. We wonder how we can ever restore Biblical Christianity.
As deplorable as the 21st Century Church has become, this isn’t the first time the visible church has strayed. And I tend to think that looking back a scant 500 years offers assurance of God’s sovereignty as well as a practical model for the restoration that we so desperately need.
In the months leading up to October 31, 2017, I wrote weekly articles about the Protestant Reformation. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t overly popular. One friend actually told me that she was too concerned about the mess the Church is in now to care about history. Sadly, many people share this attitude.
Yet the Reformers, upon recognizing that the Roman Catholic Church had obscured Biblical Christianity with its traditions and opulence, found that simply returning to God’s Word offered all the reformation Christianity required. Admittedly, they each had flaws and blind spots (as do we), but they well understood the danger of mixing God’s Word with the contrivances of fallen humanity.
Martin Luther loved Paul’s letter to the Galatians for that very reason. Paul wrote this angry letter to a church that had begun entertaining the idea that, to be authentic Christians, they needed to supplement their faith with Jewish law. The apostle categorically rejected that notion!
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? ~~Galatians 3:1-6 (ESV)
Just as Paul appealed to Genesis and Luther appealed to Galatians, so present-day Christians must imitate the Reformers in going back to God’s Word. We must stand against the worldliness that permeates evangelicalism today in the same way that the Reformers stood against Roman Catholicism — by refusing anything but Scripture.