Reformed and Reforming (01): Shepherds and Schism
Jeremiah - 3:14 "Return, O backsliding children," says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 "And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 "Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.'. ..
Jesus promised to build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. When his church goes astray, God raises up Shepherds who tend the flock and feed them with knowledge and understanding. They are instruments for bring Reformation According to the Word.
The Church Formed: 33-500
The Church Transforms: 500-1100
The Church Deformed: 1100-1500
The Church Reformed: 1500-1700
The Church Conformed: 1700-2000
After prospering with the downfall of Rome and the decentralization, the Church had prospered throughout the Western Christian era. As power was again centralized in Rome, the church was had grown very haughty while failing at the basic function: feed my lambs. Most of its pastors did not feed the people with the truths of the gospel. Many were quite ignorant, those who had oversight were negligent. Especially in the late medieval period the Church was increasingly deformed with corruptions from within and errors were propagated, like papal supremacy, transubstantiation, withholding the cup from the people, excluding children from communion, maryolatry, penance, indulgences, many addictive gross superstitions.
Are we so different? Many evangelicals that are heirs of the work of the Reformation know the Ten Commandments, most confuse the language of the sinner’s prayer with the Bible’s gospel of faith Christ and in the substitutionary work. Many schooled in Christianity have a works-based view of the Christian life and salvation. In American evangelicalism, fewer and fewer make the definitive and absolute claims of the Lordship of Christ. Many want to keep the “geli” in evangelical. The great capitol of literacy, learning, culture which the historic Church, revived in the Reformation provided has been squandered through Harliquin Romances and MTV programs of de-literacy. The invention of Gutenburg catalyzed the Reformation and created a Western world of literacy and letters and learning.
But what have we come to, more and more the heirs of this great heritage, scholars within conservative Christian circles only repackage the anti-theistic views of theological apostates from the last two centuries. Few pastors in the church have a working knowledge of the languages of the Scriptures (Greek/Hebrew) and the historic church (Latin). More and more church leaders have adopted pragmatic, program-driven, “piffle, drivel, and swill” as feed. The Church of God, needing the Porterhouse meat the Word, has been put on Slim-Fast by many of her shepherds and the only milk that’s offered is skim milk. I do not say all of this to call done “those” out there - rather I speak this to OUR SHAME. We are this way. May God grant US repentance and may He fulfill His great promises to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. This is what God has promised.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more