Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Reformation Sunday. Forget Halloween.

Although most Americans are cluelessly ramping up for Halloween, October 31 is Reformation Day. Some (but not enough) churches will celebrate Reformation Day on Sunday, October 29. (You can count on the Lutherans!) Few American celebrate (or even know about) this holiday, which speaks telling about our cultural decline. I have been preparing several messages on the Reformation, including a sermon at Covenant of Grace Church (Phoenix, Arizona) for October 29 called, "What is the Gospel? Remembering the Reformation." I will highlight the five solas of the Reformation:

1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is our ultimate authority
2. Sola Christus: Christ alone is our Savior and Lord.
3. Sola Gratia. Grace alone is the basis of our salvation
4. Sola Fides: Faith alone is the means of our salvation
5. Sola Deo Gloria: The glory of God alone is our ambition and passion.

In order to guard the Gospel, we must remember, believe, teach, and defend all five.

In light of this, let us ponder the words of Martin Luther before his accusers.

Unless convinced by the testimony of Scripture or right reason, for I trust neither the pope nor councils inasmuch as they have often erred and contradicted one another, I am bound by conscience, held captive by the Word of God in the Scriptures I have quoted. I neither can nor will recant anything, for it is neither right nor safe to act against conscience. God help me! Amen.


Charles Rathmann said...

Doug ~ Well, I am a Quaker so I would ask why Reformation Day should be celebrated at all?

At times it has been claimed that Luther was trying to accomplish the same thing that Quakers were attempting in a return to first-Century Christianity. But a sect that relies entirely upon the scriptures rather than on Christ can not be a return to the source as the scriptures were not written and canonized until later in history.

Christ is the same now as he was during and before Jesus' life, and we can know Him directly, the scriptures simply serving as a benchmark for where others have gone before us in Him.

Christ said:
"And The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (Jn. 5:37-40)

I do not want to rain on your parade (which was yesterday in any event) as every celebration that brings us closer to Him is good -- but just wanted to inject that bit of Quakerism to brighten your day!

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

You are using Scripture to tell us that Scripture is not central to knowing Christ. That is a contradiction and thus false.

Scripture gives us the epistemological foundation--true statements that are knowable--for knowing Jesus personally.

Without Scripture (and the Spirit's illumination of such) we are in the dark--forever.

Doug Groothuis

Smokey said...

But didn't a previous pope's council decide which writings would and which writings would not be included in the Bible?

Charles Rathmann said...

Doug --
I would not presume to debate one as learned as you on theological matters (it would be a bit of a one-sided debate I am afraid particularly since Quakers tend to avoid theology). But it seems to me kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. The authors of the scriptures were informed by the Holy Spirit (it would be a separate discussion as to what first-hand knowledge the authors of the scriptures had of Jesus during his lifetime) -- and that Spirit is the same now as it was then, and is available to us today.

The scriptures have value to the degree that they guide us to the Holy Spirit. For one might read the scriptures and believe intellectually with doctrine as put forward by Luther but remain unchanged in their hearts, and are not transformed in any way. Yet people might differ on doctrine and be united in the Spirit.

Spreading the Gospel as written is an important activity, and I agree that at least I personally would be lost without the scriptures. But if the scriptures and doctrine were and end in themselves I would also be lost.

Doug, we may not see completely eye-to-eye on matters like these but I am still ordering your book ON JESUS and will read it thoroughly.