Another Reformation?

On Reformation Day (October 31) Dallas Seminary professor John Hannah provided a compelling call to return to the driving force behind the Reformation — a commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture.  He concludes with these insights and admonitions:

Is the real point of Christ’s redemptive mission to create a body of people who grasp the insight that His sole reason for coming to us was to improve our social circumstance, put coins in our pockets, and a Lexus in our garages? When sin is trivialized, Christ is dishonored.

In the late Medieval church, sin was seen not as a nature corrupting judgment, but as a mere personal, voluntary action. If that is the case, then people needed to be instructed about proper or higher choices and given incentives for those choices. The incentive they gave was the gaining of heaven by compliance to ecclesiastical mandates and sacramental obedience. We live in a culture where sin has more to do with chocolate cake than a serious affront to a just and righteous God. The incentive in our day often is not heaven, but a superior quality of pleasurable experiences now. The cross may have been replaced with a temporal crown. If such is the case with sin, and if Christ’s mission related primarily to sin, then it is not a great stretch to see that when sin is not taken seriously, Christ is trivialized.…

[So] the cross is often not the central content of preaching. When sin is treated lightly, and Christ’s work consequently redefined, if not refocused, the end result is a disregard for the centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the church. I do not think that there is a rampant denial of the integrity — even inerrancy — of Scripture in our churches. But I do believe that we may be seeing something worse — the practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.

My cry before you today is not for a restoration of our churches to the theological ideals and commitments of the 16th century reformation. It is a plea for you — for me, for us — as God’s servants to consider the possibility of a new reformation. Another — a second — joyous rediscovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ that will set us free from ourselves and turn us onto a zealous quest for the proclamation of the true gospel for a new breed of followers who recognize that the cross always precedes the crown, that eternal glory follows momentary suffering, that a true follower of Christ should not be driven by a success motive, but by a ‘love of Christ and His mission’ motive. I ask you to pray for the recovery of the joyous redemptive message of the gospel — that it will again grip our churches, fill our hearts with profound delight, shape our motives and morals, and turn us into the world with a deep zeal to lift up Christ, exalt the only redeemer from sin, and call folks to spiritual vitality and purpose. Amen. And Amen. To the glory of God alone.

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