The Morning After Reformation Day

R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, and Associate Pastor at Oceanside United Reformed Church, splashes a little water in the faces of those of us who get excited about the Reformation on Halloween. If you want your Reformation myths challenged (if they are myths), then read his post at the Heidelblog entitled, “What Reformation Day Really Is.” But be of good cheer, true believer–the doctor not only invalidates the legends, he bestows a sharper knowledge of the true Reformation! Read, and rejoice in the truth!

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5 responses

  1. Interesting link, John. Thanks.

  2. Good stuff John, really good stuff. It makes me worse than I was first thinking I was! Thanks Bro.!

  3. Michael,

    Huh? How are you worse than you first thought you were?

    Do you mean theologically?

    If anything, then, the reason to continue commemorating Reformation Day (whether historical or legendary) is to yearly get us back to the basics of what it really means to be Protestant.

  4. John,

    I always thought myself good enough to at least “merit” a pass from God. The more I understand what the Reformation was and is about, the more I come to understand that all the “reformed plans to make me more acceptable to God or make me better” are useless and will never succeed. The Reformation isn’t about reform plans to teach me to live my best life now. The law of sin and death make sure of that. It is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that sets me free from the law of sin and death in my flesh and no reformation plan to set me free from me will ever work.

    The link and article really hit it clearly on that point, right?

    We have visiting here at our Church a Lutheran Doctor of Divinity and an educator who made the point and in fact, if I remember his saying it he referred to the article you link us too, and he made the point that Martin Luther wasn’t trying to reform people with reform plans, a series of things you do to become better, but his argument was with the RCC and their proclamation of the Gospel, that that they proclaimed, that it was in error. He was bringing reformation to the Gospel so that the True Gospel would be preached correctly.

    I don’t get better the more I come to understand the intent of the Historical Reformation so my little play on words was only attempting to establish that the Reformation and the rich history of events that followed up to today and beyond underscore to me now that my nature is truly my sin nature and the law of sin and death that works in my flesh works permanently in my flesh. There is nothing I can do to change that. I use to fast and pray and read my Bible to get better and stop being so sinful. Nothing I did or will ever do will get me living my best life absent of sin. I die daily. I live in the Resurrection and the Life in Christ daily now that I have been buried with Him by baptism into His death.

    Hope that shedds some light on my off the mark remarks above?

  5. It sure does. It’s a great testimony to the elusive nature of our understanding of our total depravity–a depravity so extensive, that no one can do anything–repeat, anything!!!–to earn God’s grace.

    How easily we forget it. And how shocking are the reminders sometimes.

    Consider my Sunday School lesson from today: passages from Exodus 13-17 repeated the theme that we can’t save ourselves, only God can. Sometimes, he’ll even work a miracle in order to save us. Exhibit A was the Red Sea. The children of Israel were blocked by the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army was coming. Only God could save them, and in fact, he did.

    Exodus 14:13-14 reads, “And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

    Exhibit B was the case of manna in Exodus 16. Even though they’d seen God save them while they stood firm and remained silent, they complained when they had no food. And believe me, when God calls the wilderness a wilderness, I’m here to tell you it’s a wilderness. My wife and I rode a bus through that very wilderness last November. My wife even commented that if she had to walk through this knowing what she knows now, she would have complained too! But God didn’t give them manna because they asked nicely for it. He was faithful to Abraham. These were the people he swore by his very name that he would give to Abraham as descendents, he even promised Abraham that he’d deliver them from slavery, he promised to give them Canaan, and ultimately, these are the people he’d ordained to bring the God-Man into the world. His provision was merciful and gracious, because the Israelites didn’t deserve it. But God is faithful.

    Then there’s the whole water from the rock episode. Same thing, different item on the menu. This time they weren’t hungry, they were thirsty. They’re being provided manna daily–God giving them what they can’t get for themselves–yet they overlook this reminder of his faithfulness and start complaining again. And how does a faithful God respond to his murmuring covenant people? With faithfulness, of course. Water from a rock.

    Yep. We’re all thoroughly corrupt–totally depraved!

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