Church History

Making Church History Relevant for Pastors & Students (Part 2)

From Faith Pulpit, Summer 2015. Used by permission, all rights reserved. Read Part 1.

Example: Transubstantiation

The Fourth Lateran Council of the Catholic Church in 1215 mentioned the term “transubstantiation” to describe what happened in the Mass. Transubstantiation taught that the bread and wine actually and literally became the body and blood of Christ. But how could this be, seeing how everyone still tasted bread when they partook? The doctrine had been building steadily for some three centuries prior, but how could the scholastic intellectuals of that day explain and justify something which obviously went against the experience of everyone who participated?

2541 reads

Making Church History Relevant for Pastors & Students (Part 1)

From Faith Pulpit, Summer 2015. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

Most of us took our church history classes1 in Bible college or seminary (or both) because we had to complete another requirement to graduate. Of course, there were some famous episodes within the last 2,000 years of Christian history that we wanted to know about. And we were told, as the common maxim goes: “Those who do not learn from the errors of [church] history are destined to repeat them.” Also, I remember one revered seminary professor at Faith telling us that the department of church history was always the last in a theological institution to turn liberal. If that is the case, surely there must be something important in those historical classes that will help us remain true to our Biblical heritage.

1692 reads

"A Protestantism which fails to acknowledge those historical roots and indeed to teach them to its young people leaves itself vulnerable to Canterbury and Rome"

"[I]t is critical that in educating the rising generation within the Church, there is proper acknowledgment of the role of history in the formation of Christianity and a proper appreciation for the richness of the Christian heritage."

1219 reads

Purity vs. Unity

From Faith Pulpit, Fall 2014. Used by permission, all rights reserved. (Continued from Lessons from the Reformation.)

The same conflict we saw in the Reformation can be seen in contemporary Christianity in North America and the rest of the world. Pastors in Baptist circles today (or heads of institutions or agencies) have choices to make when trying to expand and extend the influence of their church in the community or the constituency of their organizations. Aiming for unity (lowest common denominator of beliefs and/or holy living) will most often result in larger numbers of people, but it does not produce the fruit one might desire.

Martin Bucer typifies this struggle from the Reformation. He not only tried to achieve unity (reaching as many people as possible), but he also retained a passion for the purity of his church members. As he discovered, he could not have both. In trying to reach greater numbers, he had to dilute his message. Under Bucer’s leadership (and the other Reformers), churches were little different from the world. Church membership was granted at birth, and requirements to keep it were not enforced. Holy living was not essential.

1607 reads

Lessons from the Reformation for Biblical Fundamentalists

Engraving. Martin Bucer at 53.

From Faith Pulpit, Fall 2014. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

One of the ironies of the Reformation is that though the Reformers had separated from the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformers attacked other groups of the time for separating from them. The Reformers had solid reasons to justify breaking the unity of Christendom in sixteenth-century Europe, mainly their proclamation of salvation by grace through faith and not of works as opposed to the works-righteousness system of the Roman Church. However, the Reformers were not willing to allow that right of separation to a third group in the Reformation, a group I call the Sectarians.

3128 reads

Pages