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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Is there a God? Is He sitting some where twiddling His thumbs or biting His finger nails as the world spirals into debauchery? Ever fancied taking a peek over His shoulder and catching Him taking a cat nap or slumped over in a yoga- pose with legs helplessly inter twined?
Calvinism is associated with Reformed Theology the Theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes and underlines the vitally important truth that God is in control of all things, not man; that God is the source of salvation; and that men and women can do nothing to save themselves. It emphasises our total dependence as guilty sinners on the mercy and grace of God for salvation. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation. Read More
[First posted in 2011] Is it true that the green shoots of recovery are sprouting and there is a gradually surging under current of hunger for Scripturally sound preaching with relentless intensity, indepth theological conviction and astute hermeneutic discipline? A couple of years ago Christianity Today noted that there was a growing resurgence towards Reformed Theology. Reformed theology or Calvinism stresses that the initiative, sovereignty, and power of God is the only sure hope for the sinfulness, fickleness, and moral weakness of human beings—and the glory of God is the ultimate theme of preaching and focus of worship. But how proportional has this interest panned out among different ethnic communities? This in its self is just a glancing over view of the paradigm shift in the Black communities.
There is a video clip of a pastor who seems to be unleashing extra ordinary waves of powers into an emotionally charged congregation with a slight swing of a finger and a swerve of an arm. In some circles such a man is given the almighty title ‘mighty man of God’ placing him above any pastor in the land and becomes the linch pin for any ‘revival service’. For it is then believed that he has reached a higher echelon of power. The preacher’s worthiness becomes the virtue on to which the congregation clings to so as to per chance swing the pendulum of fate and fortune in their own lives.
Such preachers are suave and charismatic and very winsome and convincing in their trade. Once they have amassed a sizeable congregation, they sneakily put their bibles far aside as they go to great lengths to mesmerise and entertain. But once they make you their convert you become seven times worse emotionally, financially and spiritually – you sadly become more faithful and dependant on them for answers to your prayers than to God.
Martin Luther once said on prayer that:
Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.
We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.
So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness.
On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The 95 Theses. So what else was enshrined in the Theses? Here we go:
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one’s heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.
4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law. …Read More!
In loving memory of Jim Bublitz who went to be with the Lord not more than two days ago, I will feature this post from his blog – The Old Truth.
In the 19th century, R.L. Dabney wrote –
“All the leading Reformers, whether in Germany, Switzerland, England or Scotland were constant preachers, and their sermons were prevalently expository”; the purpose was to explain the meaning of Scripture. So he says, “We can assume with safety that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of the great revolution of the Reformation – was mainly due to the restoration of scriptural preaching”.
Martin Luther in 1533 said, “The Word of God is the greatest most necessary, most important thing in Christendom.” And it is. I’ll tell you what, you turn away from the Book and you have endless problems. You turn away from the Book and Jesus becomes a clay toy, you can shape Him any way you want. Truth becomes a clay toy, you can shape it any way you want…
See, people want to reinvent Jesus, shape Him any way they want.
This year’s conference began with evening dinner on Thursday 3rd May followed by sessions led by Dr. Bernhard Kaiser. Dr Kaiser is founder and director of the Institute of Reformational theology in Reiskirchen near Giessen, Germany and is a lecturer in Systematic theology at the Selye-Janos University in Komamo, Slovakia. His passion is teaching the relevance of reformation Theology for today’s generation.
This year’s programme delved in to Reformation Theology (the Solas) …Read More!
[Adapted from an article by Steven Lawson]: Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.
Less than two months after Luther came into the world, Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in Wildhaus, a small village in the eastern part of modern-day Switzerland, forty miles from Zurich. His father, Ulrich Sr., had risen from peasant stock to become an upper-middle-class man of means, a successful farmer and shepherd, as well as the chief magistrate for the district. This prosperity allowed him to provide his son with an excellent education. He presided over a home where typical Swiss values were inculcated in young Ulrich: sturdy independence, strong patriotism, zeal for religion, and real interest in scholarship. …Read More!
Well some people believe if you can re-write and re -word the Ten Commandments you can make people feel a little more positive about their spiritual and moral state. You see…
The religious rules, which Christians believe were etched onto tablets by God and given to Moses, have been modified to use up-to-date language and principles. Inspired by last year’s riots, the new vows include “manage your anger”, “know God” and “catch your breath” and are understood to be used in more than 600 churches in Britain.
The original “thou shalt not steal” has become “prosper with a clear conscience”, and the lengthy “thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” becomes “take God seriously”.
The commandments, designed by popular evangelical preacher J John, have been praised by religious leaders for bringing practical advice to modern congregations.
Using short, simple language interspersed with slang, the new rules have now been released on a DVD called “just10 for churches”, aimed at providing guidance.
The tenth commandment, for example, has altered the Biblical “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” to just “find contentment.” …Read More!
If you thought indulgences for the dead ended in the 16th Century with Johann Tetzel think again. Tetzel is remembered for making a lot of money off from naive congregants for the ongoing reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica by using the draw string “as soon as a coin in the coffer rings; a soul from purgatory springs”. Well guess what, the Roman Catholic church just made an announcement with a door to absolution…
The announcement in church bulletins and on Web sites has been greeted with enthusiasm by some and wariness by others. But mainly, it has gone over the heads of a vast generation of Roman Catholics who have no idea what it means: “Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences.”
In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago — the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife — and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin. …Read More!
With help from the old monk and Staupitz, but especially from the study of Paul’s Epistles, Luther gradually was brought to the conviction that the sinner is justified by faith alone, without works of law. By the end of his convent life he came to the conclusion that “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17) is the righteousness which God freely gives in Christ to those who believe in him. Righteousness is not to be attained through man’s own exertions and merits. Rather, it is complete and perfect in Christ, and all the sinner has to do is to accept it from Him as a free gift. …Read More!
He may have been apparently forgotten as a theological light weight but to the keen eye Martin Bucer’s role in the reformation was and is invaluable. Bucer was an ecclesial diplomat pastor with deep coherent theological conviction.
Martin Bucer played a part in the Reformation and his impact was in the city of Strasburg. Martin Bucer is not as well known as Martin Luther and John Calvin but he did make an impact on Strasburg until he was forced to flee the city.
Bucer was born on November 11th 1491. He was influenced by the Humanistic teachings of Erasmus and he read and accepted the arguments of Martin Luther. He had been a Dominican monk but he left in 1521 and became the chaplain to Franz von Sickingen, a protestant knight, and in 1522 became pastor of Landstuhl in the Palatinate. Here he married Elizabeth Silbereisen – a former nun. In 1523, Bucer became a minister in Strasburg where he preached in the cathedral.
Strasburg had long suffered from poor priests in terms of quality and absentee bishops. The city was also a major centre of the book trade so it was very susceptible to the influence of the printed word. The writings of Martin Luther and Melancthon were widely circulated and as early as 1521, preachers had arrived in Strasburg to “preach the pure Gospel”. Read More
Women had a most significant impact upon the Reformation, and the social changes that came about in turn changed the place and role of women in the centuries to follow. Two groups of women had decisive impact upon the Reformation – the royal women, and the wives of the Reformers.
In 16th Century Europe, 85% of the population were peasants living in villages of less than 100 people, 10% were Middle Class: merchants, tradesmen, townsmen, and the remaining 5% were either the Nobility or Clergy. Most of the wealth and power was concentrated in the latter. The average life span was 30 for men and 24 for women; anyone who reached 40 was considered old. Women had an average of 6 or 7 children, if they survived childbirth in an unsanitary age, and 40-50% of the children would die before the age of 12…About 10% of the men would never marry. About 12% of the women found themselves in convents – and often unwillingly – as that was a good way to get rid of unwanted female children…
Royal women had much to do with shaping the events of the Reformation era. One needs only consider Henry the 8th and his six wives (and the politics behind them); or Catherine de Medici and her daughters Elizabeth of Valois; and Marguerite of Valois; or Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I; and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots to know that these women shaped history. But there are others too. Marquerite of Navarre and Jeanne d’Albret; who served the Huguenot cause in France, or Charlotte of Bourbon and Louise de Coligny in the Netherlands.
The other group of women who impacted that era and the centuries to come were the wives of the Reformers. Read More
If Martin Luther had the means of communication and broadcasting we have today I wonder what he would say. The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is the United States’ largest Christian television network. It is said to be the world’s largest religious network and America’s most watched faith channel. My biggest hunch is his message would go some thing like this:
“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavor after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground …; but because even were there no dangers … I should still be forced to labor with no guarantee of success … But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Read More
Looking back through the recent past, Christianity has gone through roller coasters. The reformation brought us out of the darkness of Roman Catholicism and departure from Scripture. The term Reformation is a historical term that goes back almost four centuries. It refers to a period when the church underwent a “reformation” as men of God attempted to return Christianity to the authority of Scripture. The desire of the Reformation was not to change God’s word but rather to bring the church back to the early Christian church. Led by men like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, John Knox and the others. The Reformation churches split off from the errors of the medieval Roman church and began what we know today as Protestantism. The Protestant churches were born out of the Reformation. Read More