There are essentially two ways of thinking on display in the world: the Hebrew way and the Greek way. Apostolic Christianity traces its roots Hebrew thought, which is centered in the idea of a covenant-keeping God of faithful love.
Season 5 | The Reformation Series
The prophet Daniel foretold the development and domination of a world system that would position itself against the covenant character of God. His prophecies delineate the historical, ecclesiastical and theological features of the system and how God would respond to it in the Prince of the Covenant, Jesus Christ.
Paul foretold that apostolic Christianity would be followed by a great “falling away” or apostasy. The Pagan Roman Empire would eventually infiltrate Christianity with its anti-covenant principles, giving rise to the Papal Roman Empire.
After long dark ages of papal supremacy, human nature, made in the image of God and designed for freedom, could bear the domination of a corrupt church no longer. With John Wycliffe and then John Huss, the Protestant Reformation began to shake Christendom and then erupted with force through the courageous work of Martin Luther.
As the Protestant Reformation took shape, two primary theological streams developed: Calvinism, with its emphasis on the sovereignty of God, and Arminianism, with its emphasis on free will. These two perspectives within shape distinct views of the character of God and the nature of salvation.
A key issue under dispute between Protestantism and Catholicism had to do with the absolute authority held by the pope and the priests, fostering systemic corruption that could not be addressed. The Protestant reformers flipped the entire system upside down by declaring “the priesthood of all believers.”
The foundational premise of the Protestant Reformation, which allowed the movement to launch with power and overtake the world, was the exaltation of Scripture as of the authority for doctrine and practice to which all believers are subject.
Grace alone is the unconditional divine means by which we are saved. We cannot earn God’s favor for the simple and profound reason that we already have. Salvation cannot be purchased because it is a gift given to us in Christ before we even lift a finger in good works toward Him.
Faith alone is the subjective, reciprocal response to God’s grace by which righteousness is made a living reality in our lives. Before our faith becomes active toward God, God’s faithfulness is active toward us. The faith of Jesus precedes our faith in Jesus.
Christ alone is the complete sacrifice for all sin and the full revelation of God’s non-condemning love for sinners. In Him, justice and mercy are perfectly blended. Jesus is the complete embodiment of God’s covenant word, by which He promised to love us at any and all cost to Himself.
God alone is glorified in our salvation because it is wholly His achievement for us in Christ and in us through Christ. All systems of salvation by works are necessarily false and powerless for the simple reason that they retain self as the center of one’s reliance and therefore rule out love as the connecting motive between the human being and God.
Since the launch of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic church has responded with a series of counter reformation maneuvers, beginning with numerous outbursts of bloody persecution and inquisitions, leading to the Council of Trent and the Vatican II Council.
The same prophecies that foretold “the great falling away” or apostasy also foretell what the Reformation will look like when it reaches its completion. We can expect and participate in a global movement that will take the beauty of God’s good character viral throughout the world.