Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Denmark Needs A Reformation Resurrection - My Life In Denmark (Part 20)

My previous post served as a shocking example of the apostate catastrophe that has happened in Denmark (and much of western Europe for that matter). With our annual Reformation Resurrection conference now less than a week away I thought it timely to revisit the heartbeat of the Back To Scripture ministry which I started with a handful of friends less than three short years ago.

Ray Comfort once wisely stated that "the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history" and that is the tragic tale most particularly of the ultra liberal "Lutheran churches" that dominate the sparse "church landscape" of Denmark. I was invited to speak (for reasons still not fully known) at a Lutheran camp last year (click here to hear the sermon) and quizzed one of the leaders about the general knowledge of Luther and his heritage among attenders. This particular leader said "they don't know very much at all but I do know about his 81 Theses". I thanked him for such a clear assessment of their historical knowledge and kindly reminded him about the other 14 theses!

Luther's hammer rings throughout history as perhaps the most significant event in the last millennium. When those 95 theses were nailed to the door of the church in Wittenberg it was the initial shot fired in a theological war that ultimately dragged Europe out of the dark ages, the Gospel out of the evil works righteous clutches of Rome, and the Scriptures out of Latin obfuscation into the common language (what is also historic here is my use of the word obfuscation - is anybody impressed?). Every great thing western Europeans enjoy today finds its roots in the great reformation. Literacy, science, medicine, art, music, free speech, and free enterprise all exploded from that reformation fuse. Furthermore, Gospel preaching flourished and societal stability benefitted enormously from biblical literacy and the Christ centered view of the family unit. The printing press emerged at this time in the providence of God which meant that widely circulated copies of the New Testament (and later the whole Canon) became the foundation on which widespread literacy thrived among the common people. But Europe marches on oblivious to the great reformation legacy of which they are the beneficiaries, seemingly hell-bent on destroying it. Not only is history neglected and buried under historical revisionism, it is the knowledge of history that holds the answers to the (possibly) terminal decline of these nations. History is His Story and a failure to see the Sovereign Hand of God orchestrating all events for His glory is a failure to understand the present and our need for the Gospel.

When I first read the Bible I approached it with the moralistic semi-pelagian mindset that I had learnt from life and the stinker church that I was attending. This really became a huge problem when I worked my way through the book of Judges. My moralism approached the Bible the way I watched a movie - every story has a hero and a villain so find out who they are and learn a valuable moral lesson which I can then use to improve myself as a person. The problem with the book of Judges, particularly in the last several chapters, was that it became an endless succession of tragic stories with no happy ending and no clearly discernible "good guys". What was I to do with the book of Judges? Well, the moral of the story in the book of Judges is found in the very last verse which happens to be a repeat of something that had already been mentioned several times:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Judges is a tale of woe about a nation full of villains who abandon the only true hero of Scripture - God! What became even more interesting to me was when I backtracked through Judges to find the threshold Israel crossed when everything started going south in a hurry. And this stood out like a beacon in chapter 2:

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:7-10 emphasis mine)

Pay particular note to the highlighted part. Israel failed to teach history to the next generation. A failure to do this is a deadly exercise that leaves a civilization blind, depraved, abandoned and condemned as revealed in what followed verse 10:

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress. (Judges 2:11-15)

Which brings us back to modern day Denmark! Reformation Resurrection 2011 is a response to the recognition that the wrath of God is being revealed in this land (Romans 1:18-32) and that another reformation is the only hope. Moreover, not a new reformation but a resurrection of the old one as a foundation from which to build upon. Luther and the other reformers had a latin phrase that they often referred to:

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

A phrase which means the church reformed and always reforming. Many criticisms get leveled at the reformers, most of them are nonsense but some of them are legitimate. Rather than writing the whole movement off, we would do well to remember "semper reformanda". We would do well to remember what they reformed from and be thankful for their recovery of the Gospel. Do we really expect them to rectify every aberration after the darkness they had come out of? We have more light because of their labor so we have responsibility to continue what they started. As Paul Washer said, we all stand on Luther's shoulders!

The only solution is to preach this Gospel pure and undefiled as it is clearly laid out in Holy Scripture - the sole authority of the reformers and a radical departure from the Roman substitutes of popes, traditions, and idols. We should march forward building upon this reformation foundation just as it was built upon the plain teaching of Scripture. Like I said Semper Reformanda. Please join us!

Go Back To Part 19
Go Back To Part 1


Michael Lawmaster said...

May the Lord open the eyes of the blind, the ears of those who have grown dull and plow the hearts to receive the messages from Holy Scripture during the upcoming Reformation Resurrection conference. I'll be praying for you guys and may much fruit abound for the glory of God!

In Christ Jesus Our Precious Lord and Savior!


McMurdo said...

I dare say that this is a very fair assessment of the reformation. Luther and others were flawed, but heroic and recovered a great deal of long lost truth. This had a huge effect on European society, which we still benefit from.

All the more extraordinary that you commend Augustine of Hippo, whose fusion of Christianity and Platonic philosophy helped to *usher in* the dark ages.