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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Well, Rome has always been associated with a lot of mischief but I think the gospel is changing the hearts of some. Daniel Ventura writes about the effects of the Reformation and gospel in Italy today:
The first thing I noticed when driving from the airport is that Italian drivers are crazy. No one is paying much attention to stop signs, speed limits, or any other traffic signs for that matter. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get to and from wherever it is they are going, and there is not much acknowledgment of one another on the road unless you have an Italian flag hanging outside your window following the victory of an Italian soccer match (then you receive a flood of honks every corner you turn!).
It seems Italian driving indicates something about the Italian cultural mindset in general. Both in the car, walking down the street, in café’s and supermarkets, everyone is focused simply on what is going on right in front of them. There are not many friendly hellos’, warm smiles, conversations on the corner, or any real human acknowledgement of one another for that matter. And in such a difficult economic time for Italy, it makes a lot of sense that there is this sense of depression and gloom wherever you go. In many ways, people are forced into this kind of lifestyle because the pressures are so great to meet financial obligations; so only an individualized fast paced life keeps one enduring each day.
The two perpetual temptations in worship are to believe that older is automatically better and that there is no maturing in the church while on the other hand a second temptation is to believe that there is very little to learn from the early church worship. The second temptation assumes that newer is automatically better. For this group, worship music is to a large degree culturally defined, but the culture is only the newest one. Let’s be clear, while the first error does exist, it is the second error which is the great temptation of our age. We must move on – they beckon and argue. We must be relevant. The great sin of our age (it seems)is to look old. But before you make an overhaul in church music to become either “traditional” or “contemporary and relevant” here are 5 things to consider:
1. We should be grateful for what we have. We live in an age of complainers. We whine about everything, including church music. Yes, there is always room for improvement. Yes, we all cringe at certain songs. Yes, it would be nice if we had the Psalms that were not paraphrased set to music. Yes, it would be nice if we had better contemporary music. But God has been good to us. We have a great musical heritage from Ambrose to Luther to Wesley. We have more and more Psalms being set to music every year. Growth comes from gratitude not from grumbling.
2. Any reformation in church music must be built on the foundations of love for Christ and love for his people. If we seek reformation because we want to be “traditional” or because we want to be “relevant” we are going to make fundamental mistakes. Love for Christ and love for the Church form the center.
3. Singing in worship revolves around two primary things: faithfulness to God’s Word and the voice of the people. Everything else is important, but secondary to these two things. This is why our fathers chanted. They could chant the Word of God exactly as it is. And chanting highlighted the voice of the people.
I know there are different voices in the wind whispering and pandering formulas to getting a revival in our times. One popular televangelist, Benny Hinn has proposed that the death of Billy Graham will truly open the flood gates of heaven. Well I don’t think people should be seeking out their pitch forks and hunting down poor ol’ Billy. You see, biblical illiteracy has reached very high levels in the church that anything goes these days. Critical Issues Commentary has an interesting post:
”For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
A key idea in the contemporary evangelical movement is that revival can be engineered. The Purpose Driven Web site says, “Peter Drucker called him [Rick Warren] ‘the inventor of perpetual revival’ and Forbes magazine has written, ‘If Warren’s church was a business it would be compared with Dell, Google or Starbucks.’” The Purpose Driven movement can cite this business management guru approvingly only because they have a faulty theology of human ability. For example, Rick Warren says, “It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart. . . . It may take some time to identify it. But the most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.” If this were true one could use modern marketing principles to sell people on their need for Christian religion and convince them to convert in order to find satisfaction of their felt needs. But it is not true. …Read More!
I had a very interesting trip recently to Germany and Switzerland as I followed a few of the Reformers. One of them stuck out. No he didn’t nail theses on walls but he knew how to get his point across. I must add here that the Reformation actually was not a one man crusade as some would want you to believe. God in his providence harnessed events in tandem to bring about one of the greatest revivals since Pentecost and the visible effects were actually out workings and fruits of birth pangs that had began with people going back to reading the scriptures.
In Zürich (Switzerland) stands a statue that has braved mischievous and militant Swiss pigeons to the hilt. It stands in the church yard of one of the biggest cathedrals in Zürich, the Grossmünster. The statue is of the man who was called “the people’s priest” Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli. Zwingli was born January 1, 1484 in Wildhaus, Switzerland. Early scholarly gifts caused him to be sent to school, especially at Basel, and he learned to love the classics.
When Zwingli became a priest he arrived in Zürich town with the announcement that he would begin to preach right through the Gospel of Matthew. This was a departure from the fragmentary reading of Scripture that had prevailed in the medieval Church. After Matthew he preached through Acts and then turned his attention to Paul’s epistles. There is a lot that the contemporary church movement would learn from this simple man who led to spiritual reform from just beginning to preach verse by verse (expository preaching) at the Grossmünster. (Click here for Zwingli resources online)
The Grossmünster (“great minster”) is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zürich, Switzerland. It is near the banks of the Limmat River. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmünster, starting in 1520. Zwingli won a series of debates …Read More!
Well this is not a complete list but these are some of the conferences I have come across within Europe (so far) and I hope to update the list when I come across others:
1) Reformation week (GERMANY and SWITZERLAND)
Are you interested in discovering the history of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? Then why not join us for our Reformation Week, 3rd – 10th May 2012. I ATTENDED THIS CONFEENCE. READ AND SEE SUMMARY OF EVENTS HERE! …Read More!
This week in church history we take a break and courageously read through a letter that was written by Huldrych Zwingli. I would like to believe this letter never got mailed to the intended recipient a mischievous character called Johannes Eck.
“Look out, you impudent chap, now you will experience an examination which can’t be borne by you, but only by a Hercules. You actually deserve it, that one would hurl against you everything that gives insult, derision, and offense… Is it not almost insane that you think so much of yourself, that you write against me to the Confederation in such a shameless, rude and disgusting manner?
Were you born to cause only confusion everywhere? You lacked the strength to act, after you exposed your stupidity in the presence of all, and you also still need to abandon your wickedness, so that the world has not only Eck’s foolishness, but also his meanness for a very long time as a deterring example before its eyes…
Everything manifests externally what it is internally; whether you look like a human or like an ape on the outside. You are indeed in action nothing other than a cow. You still need, as it appears to me, and everyone else, to be broken like a mule or a donkey. I could never find a man more miserable than you, even if I scanned the whole of Germany… Oh, There’s More
The butterfly effect is a term used in Chaos Theory to describe how tiny variations can affect giant systems, and complex systems, like weather patterns. For example, it is said that a butterfly flapping its wings in a jungle in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.
A couple of years ago we leavened up the unleavened bread of Christianity. A little nip here and a tuck there. We created a brand of Hip and Cool Christianity not only smooth but market savvy. Relevant. We used reproducible and successful entrepreneurial church growth models to bring as many people into the church complexes as possible.
However, if the recent trend of events is anything to go by, it seems God has gone on a hiatus and left the youths playing peekaboo in the night. Recent statistics show that there is an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly. Some critics have attributed this yo-yo effect to the perils of hipster Christianity. Read More