Monday, October 12, 2015

Reformed on Salvation. Anabaptist on the Church.

The longer I live the more thankful I am for the Reformers. As we near October 31st, the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door in 1517, I can't help but muse upon just how much we owe those who came before us. For hundreds of years prior to the Protestant Reformation the Gospel had been largely locked away behind the pomp and circumstance of the Roman Catholic Church. The average person on the street had no access to the truth of the Biblical Gospel. Most people couldn't read, and even if they could they would not have had any way to read the scriptures in their first language (since the Bible was stuck in the Latin Vulgate at that time).

Enter the Magisterial Reformers. Men such as John Wycliffe, Jan Huss, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, John Calvin and many more literally risked their lives for Biblical truth. Some, like Huss, lost theirs at the stake. These men, who were able to read the Bible, saw that the Gospel is all of grace. They understood that Jesus Christ's work is complete. It is about Christ and Christ alone. God used the Reformers greatly to proclaim the wonderful news that Jesus accomplished all that was required.

Secondarily, I agree wholeheartedly with the Refomers' strong belief in the absolute sovereignty of God when it comes to salvation. I love both the 5 Solas and the Doctrines of Grace; I love them because I believe they are scriptural.

The Reformers stuck to the Bible when it came to the Gospel. For this I am indebted.

And yet...

When it comes to church life, the Reformers dropped the ball - at least where the Bible is concerned. Frankly, the Reformers did very little to alter the church from what it was (and still is) in Catholicism. The priests simply became pastors. The mass was replaced with a new sacrament: the sermon. The big buildings hardly changed at all. Because of this, I reject the Reformers' model of church life.

Enter the Anabaptists. While the Reformers deviated little from the Roman model of church, the Anabaptists embraced not only the Biblical Gospel but also the Biblical model of church life. They kept things simple. They emulated what they saw in the Bible. They rejected unbiblical concepts such as salaried clergy, special buildings, and worship services. They also saw the church as free, unencumbered by a cozy relationship with the state. It was this rejection of the church-state alliance that brought persecution and death to many of them. Almost all of their early leaders were slaughtered, either by Catholics or Protestants.

It is the Anabaptist model of church, which is basically just the Biblical model of church, that I embrace. This is not to suggest that either A) the Anabaptists had everything figured out perfectly, or B) that all Anabaptists were the same. However, they generally attempted to allow scripture to inform what they believed and how they acted as it pertains to living out church life.

For this, I'm deeply indebted to the Anabaptists.

In the end, this leaves me in the somewhat odd situation of being Reformed on salvation, but Anabaptist on the church. So be it.


Arthur Sido said...

Reformed on salvation and Anabaptist on the church, that sounds vaguely familiar....

Aussie John said...


We're in this boat together! :)

Eric said...

Arthur and John,

I figured we were all similar weirdos.

Paul G said...

Well said my brother.
I wish that every church-goer could see and understand that.

Goblin said...

Another similar weirdo here in the UK guys!

Eric said...


It's good to be odd together!