Reformation Sunday and the Independent Church

Our church was birthed 69 years ago by a group of 99 people, including the pastor, who left a denominational church because of a growing liberalism in that denomination. Moving a few blocks down the street to the local fire hall, Faith Community Church began its ministry in 1936. In what was certainly somewhat of a reaction to the problems inherent in denominations gone bad, the constitution specifies that the church may not join any ecclesiastical group, denomination or fellowship. In other words, we're independent.

All of the churches that I have been involved in since my family trusted Christ in the mid 1960's have been independent churches. One was a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America, the other was an independent Baptist church (not of the fightin' variety) and Faith, which came from Presbyterian roots, has morphed over the years into what I have sometimes described as a "closet Baptist" church.

One could argue the pros and cons of denominations. I am not one who feels that the existence of different denominations and fellowships necessarily implies a fundamental disunity in the Church. Oh it can be that, but it does not have to be. There are positives and negatives of being on your own. I'd like to share some thoughts for a few moments on one of the things that I feel is a negative, and what I am doing this year to try to correct that.

In any church - especially independent congregations - it is possible (likely?) that people have little or no sense of heritage. And in a culture that seems to regard history as being somewhat irrelevant, most of our people have little interest and certainly little knowledge in pre-Billy Graham evangelicalism. And that concerns me.

Most of the readers of this blog will be familiar with the five "Solas" of the Reformation. This list of five key doctrinal beliefs that the Reformation emphasized. And as several have said (and as I have blogged before) we need Reformation Version 2 in our day. And unfortunately it needs to be pretty much about the same issues that were addressed in Version 1.

I was thinking about the five doctrinal affirmations referred to in the Solas statements. Do you notice that every one of them is under attack today - and not (just) from outside the Church, but from inside. There are people inside evangelicalism with a low view of Scripture's trustworthiness and authority. There are those who fudge on the issue of salvation by Christ alone. With the way the Gospel is presented today, grace and faith have taken a back seat to praying a prayer and coming to learn how special we are. The Glory of God? Fuggedaboudit.

We're not dealing with superfluous doctrines here - these are the core of Christian belief. Take them away and we no longer have Christianity. And that's why I want to talk to our folks about these key Reformation doctrines.

So beginning on Sunday, October 30, which is Reformation Sunday, we're going to spend 5 or 6 weeks talking about these key beliefs. I've postponed getting back into Romans until after the holidays because I feel it is important that we be grounded in these basic areas of biblical truth.

I'm not interested in creating another church holiday, but I am interested in increasing our awareness of what is essential to our faith, and it seems that this presents a good opportunity. What about you? Does your church provide any resource or teaching specific to these core beliefs at this time of year? I'd be interested in hearing about them.

In my next blog entry, probably in a day or two, I'd like to share a couple of resources that I picked up to help in this process.


Bumble said...

Thanks for the book advice.

On the "5 Solas": if we need Reformation "version 2.0", wouldn't we need to build it on new "computer code" rather than emphasizing the old one?

Peter Bogert said...

The main issues haven't changed though. The doctrinal foundation that was re-established in the Reformation needs renewing in our day too. The surrounding attacks on basic Christian faith may be different, but these principles are timeless, IMO.

Good to hear from you!

anoninva said...

Yes, we need "reformation Sunday." Our church usually has a special message and sometimes another pastor speaks for a second message. Last year we as a church read a short biography of Martin Luther. As a family, we have a German meal in honor of Martin Luther! We like to review the five solas, and talk about the reformation and why it happened. When I had been a Christian for a few years, I was shocked to learn Christian history! I had no idea of the true history that is often skewed by the secular press. Plus so much is left out. And the church itself sadly does not know her own history. She is vulnerable because she doesn't know about the bad things that happened, and she is poorer for not knowing the good things (and heroes of the faith).It is so amazing how false teachers keep bringing the same old lies in and the church doesn't see it coming. If we knew our history, it would help. If we knew our Bibles that would help too...but that's another story!