I made it home just a little bit later than I had hoped (but earlier than I had expected) and am now ready to turn around and head right back to the United States, this time driving 1000 miles to my parents’ place in Atlanta. We’re off to a late start, but that couldn’t be helped.
While I was flying home from L.A. yesterday I read Stephen Nichols’ The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. I encountered the following quote and thought I would leave you with it. I thought it was a great summary of why the Reformation “took” or why it worked where so many other movements before and since have failed.
Prior to the Reformation, there were various attempts to reform the church. Some movements addressed issues of church leadership and government, trying to wrest control from the papacy. Other groups tried to reform the extravagance of the church and its pursuit of wealth. Others addressed the lackluster spirituality that was all too prevalent. These movements could put their finger on the problem–they just couldn’t arrive at a solution. All of these movements failed where the Reformation succeeded. The reason? The Reformation got to the heart of the matter: right theology. The Reformers rightly diagnosed the disease, and they rightly administered the necessary cure.
Today we can fall into the same trap as those failed movements that attempted reform. We can put our trust in programs. We can rely on new leadership or the application of innovative management techniques. We can count on moral reform. The Reformation sounds a clarion call of caution to all such attempts. If we as a church don’t get it right on the doctrines of the Bible, Christ, and salvation, we’ll never head in the right direction, no matter how innovative or energetic or zealous we may be.
See you from Atlanta!