The Capranica

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Friday, May 20, 2005

Devaluing the Reformation

Do we need another reformation within Christianity? Rick Warren says we do. However this time, the new reformation needs to be one not based on belief, but on behavior. In a recent gathering of over 12,000 people in Dallas, Warren spoke about how the Reformation of the sixteenth century divided the church, but how a new reformation centered on planting churches, developing servant leaders, feeding the poor, curing the sick and educating the uneducated will unify the church. And with whom will we be unified? The meeting was a gathering of "Baptists, charismatics, nondenominational evangelicals, and others [I wonder who these folks are] at Dallas' Reunion Arena for a Global Day of Prayer rally May 15." Warren commented about the first reformation and the new reformation, "The first one was about creeds; this one's going to be about our deeds. The first one divided the church; this time it will unify the church." Warren led the assembly in "praying against the global giants" that lead to fear, loss of direction, and lack of purpose, noting spiritual emptiness is the greatest giant." This push for a global response of the Church to issues such as health, education and poverty is a necessary one. My concern is that we are approaching such issues without a common conviction about what is actually most basic: the gospel. To link arms with religious groups who do not agree on the content of the gospel in order to cure societal ills is eternally meaningless. In my estimation, Warren's approach is picking up the ball where the Promise Keepers left off: unity without theology. He seems to speak pajoritively about the sixteenth century reformation when he states, "The first one divided the church, this time it will unify the church." Remember why we had a "first" reformation? Recall why the church divided? The gospel! Justification by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. Was this uncalled for? Was the first reformation an unnecessary distraction from what the church should have been focused on, like global health, education and poverty issues? Our culture is ever ripening toward a society that pursues unity in the name of Christianity, while rejecting the very gospel the church is charged to proclaim. Perhaps a clearer and biblically faithful alternative will be communicated in the upcoming "Together for the Gospel" conference.

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