With another Reformation Day come and gone, as usual, it has caused me to reflect upon this most influential time in world history. Now, more has been written about the Reformation than can be read in a lifetime (at least at my reading pace). So, what more could be said about this most important event? Probably not much. Yet, I do have something in mind that I can’t stop thinking about; the importance of God’s Word and the resulting doctrines of the church.
There is a sentiment of indifference that is contagious in America regarding Christianity. This sentiment is far more worried about people simply “following Jesus.” This notion has given rise to Non-denominationalism which ironically has become its own denomination. The argument is often made that denominations are bad and schismatic, and that the most important thing about being a Christian is that we all just simply follow Jesus. Doctrine, creeds, theology, none of it really seems to matter. They oppose creeds yet make their own creeds, “Deeds, not creeds” is ironically a creed about disliking the use of creeds. But it isn’t just the non-denominational movement that shows a glaring issue with Christianity in America. There is also the, “just happy they are going to church” crowd. It doesn’t matter where. It doesn’t matter what is taught. Attendance is the only thing that matters, a new brand of ex opere operato it seems. Underlying a lot of these things is a general indifference towards the Word of God and doctrine. This is the indifference that comes when the self is the center of the universe, not God. Yet, as we see in the Reformation, the Word of God was at its center and it was taken seriously, dead seriously. Doctrine and the teachings of the church were taken seriously, dead seriously. God takes these things seriously, and he is dead serious about the forgiveness of sins.
This is part of why the Reformation is so amazing to me, because all these moments in history, the Diets, the trials, the Theses, they were all done under real threat of death. Men laid down their lives for the truth of scripture, for the purity of doctrine, and for the comfort and consolation of terrified consciences and souls. For what? For the church of today to simply be flippant with God’s Word? For the church to concede every theological debate for the sake of pragmatism? For the church to keep quiet on important theological matters so that we can all simply just get along? Even to the extent that many Christians find themselves somewhat embarrassed by what God’s Word says. But God’s Word deserves more than that. Christ’s church deserves better than that. Indifference and flippancy when it comes to God’s Word is not the way forward. This doesn’t mean that these conversations and arguments need to be rude, crass, or even aggressive, but it does mean we ought to take Scripture seriously, because God does. God is dead serious about His Word. So much that if you violate it, the punishment is just that, death. If you don’t think God takes his word seriously, then behold the man on the cross, His son Jesus.
The reality for many, even for self-proclaimed Christians, is that the Word of God is not something that is worth dying for. The reality for many, even for self-proclaimed Christians is that truth and purity of doctrine is not worth dying for. But at one point it was. And even if many don’t think so, it still is. The overall state of the church in Christianity is lukewarmth. It is something that often dies for other things. Mere church attendance is what is sacrificed at the altars of athletics, fame, fortune, career, and vacation. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it doesn’t have to stay this way. It’s time to take God’s Word seriously. He does. He is willing to die for it. We know because Christ died for you. So don’t be afraid to care about God’s Word, the purity of doctrine, and your theological convictions. You are in good company. The many saints who have gone before us died for these things, and there may be a time when we are called to die as well. If so, take heart, for Christ has gone before you into death. He has prepared a place for you. Because he is dead serious about you. Even if you aren’t dead serious about him.