The late author and lecturer Phyllis Tickle supposed that the church goes through a “rummage sale” every 500 years or so and throws out the old forms of spirituality and replaces them with new ones. Some of the most notable “rummage sales” over the last 200 years include Constantine in the late 4th century, early 5th, the Great Schism of the 11th century, the Reformation in the 15th – 16th century, and the current Postmodern era.
This can be liberating or disheartening depending on your comfort level with the current state of the church. While the Postmodern era is certainly upon us, the church hasn’t changed all that much…yet…but if Tickle is right, we are just about due.
Next week, we will be remembering the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation where men and women who were passionate followers of Jesus and strict adherents to the centrality of Christ and the authority of scripture took a stand as the church was rapidly losing their way. The result for many of these “reformers” was death, sometimes individuals, sometimes spouses who had to watch each other be tortured or killed, and sometimes even children were murdered to preserve the current state and authority church leaders.
Their courageous stand and sacrifice re-ignited a zeal for the Glory of God, the centrality of Scripture, and the truths that we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, under Christ alone.
But how did the church get so off track from the path that Christ had laid out for it?
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34–35 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)
What can we learn from what may be the most pivotal moment in the formation of the church since Christ’s resurrection?
It is certainly true that a number of atrocities by men who loved power and control but didn’t understand the heart of Christ, were halted as a fire of reformation swept the world.
It is also true that the church has become fragmented and, in some cases, has repeated some of the same mistakes in our churches, today.
Join us through the month of November as we explore the church as Jesus intended and some of the most influential historical events that have adjusted that course.