“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” -John 17:21
We become one in the Triune God by continually being conformed to the image of Christ. The more conformed to Christ we are the more unified in faith and practice we should be. Notice that our oneness influences unbelievers to believe in Christ. Therefore, reformation or conformity to Christ should produce unity and the advancement of the Christian faith.
One of the fundamental, basic and important tenants of the Reformation was Semper Reformanda or “always reforming.” The meaning of which is that the Church should always be reexamining itself in the light of Scripture to preserve purity in doctrine and practice and unify the Churches of Christ.
The Reformation was not the completion of this task but the beginning of the work of the Church in the modern era. The Church, having become apostate and as a result bringing upon the world the Dark Ages, underwent a revival of apostolic faith and practice. The Reformers understood that if the principle of Semper Reformanda was not seriously adhered to, it would only be a matter of time until the Church became corrupt and apostate once again.
Fast-forward to 2013 and we see they were correct. Charles Spurgeon warned in the latter part of the 1800’s, “The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures.” In the Reformation this was expressed as Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. Over time, and unfortunately it was not a very long time, we began to trust more in the traditional differences within Reformed Christianity rather than the mutual distinctive of our faith.
Although the corruption of our day may be different in some respects than in the days of the Reformation, apostasy has been the same result. Whenever the Five Sola’s are abandoned in doctrinal statements or practice, the result will always be apostasy.
The reason for our modern abandonment of Reformation standards is two-fold. Both reasons take us back to the early 1800’s in America and even earlier in some parts of Europe. Here in America the Reformed Churches, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and every other Reformed church, became apathetic concerning the Reformation and abandoned our Reformation heritage. These are the two main reasons for our modern demise.
I realize our abandonment of Sola Scriptura, Sola, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria is the ultimate reasons for our apostasy. However, we did not just wake up one day and decide we were going to reject these absolute foundations of Christianity. Plus, these pillars of the Reformation and of all Biblical reformations can be abandoned while we shout them from the rooftops. It is one thing to put words on paper and another to practice them.
Some of this divide is due to the fact that many churches among these denominations are no longer reformed. This is a major problem as our Reformed traditions have been seduced by sons of Satan in drag. Therefore, we now have the need for the modern distinctions of "Reformed Baptists" and "Reformed Presbyterians." However, this is an oxymoron in the historical sense. It is like repeating oneself. Nonetheless, this distinction is now necessary due to the many who claim title to something that does not belong to them.
But it is not simply the liberals who have railroaded the Reformation. Those who do truly walk in the same Reformed heritage and are actual Reformed Christians carry the most responsibility in this area. For too long we have abrogated our responsibility by blaming the wicked for our demise.
Therefore, let me explain these two reasons that have led us to forsake our heritage and the advancement of true reformation.
First, the Church became complacent in this area of Semper Reformanda. We began to view the Reformation, or at least our version of it, as the end all. No longer were we reforming but content. We forgot that sanctification, the process in which all believers are under until the consummation, is an ongoing work of personal reformation by the Word of God through the operation of the Holy Spirit that bears fruit in our families, churches and society. If sanctification is not an active work in believers then the work of reforming families, churches and society will cease and such it did.
No area demonstrates this more than the unity of the Church.
The Church is commanded to “[Endeavour] to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Yet, the various Reformed Churches are farther apart than ever. We focus on the uncertain rather than the certain. Therefore, a great gulf divides Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and any Reformed tradition from the other. We are a feuding family of brothers and sisters and as a result ruined our testimony before the world.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” -John 13:35
Our denominations are so isolated we more closely resemble inbred freaks at a carnival show than the chaste virgin bride of Christ. Hate is an ugly feature and it produces repulsive offspring. It is a dominant factor that dominates the gene pool.
Some will go so far as to condemn their Reformed brethren as non-Christians and many more as being outside the true church. Others will reluctantly confess them as brethren but cannot commune one with another. Forget familial love, this family cannot even tolerate each other long enough for holiday celebrations.
Just like the term Reformed Christian is an oxymoron so too are the terms Baptist Church or Presbyterian Church. While these distinctions are important in modern times to maintain the Reformed narrative and identification in the world, the problem is that we began to view these terms in an unbiblical manner. Instead of these terms identifying us as kindred and proclaiming our confession of faith in Christ, we characterized these terms as the definition of what it is to be Reformed to the exclusion of our brethren. Whether in doctrine and/or practice, most Reformed Churches fell to some level of the Roman heresy of Apostolic Succession.
We stopped viewing the Reformed Faith as one and isolated it to our particular congregations. The body of Christ ceased being many members of one body. This stopped the Reformation short and produced division in areas where none should be. In other words, we abandoned the Catholic Church.
This statement alone will get one excommunicated into the eternal abyss of nondenominational slander. Once this happens you become a man without a church so to speak.
Baptists and Presbyterians can no longer evangelize the world together as the body of Christ because we cannot even share in the bread and cup of Christ’s death. Fellowship as saints among different Reformed Churches is a distant memory because we no longer practice Semper Reformanda because we do not believe in it.
All this is not to say there should not be differences. While there are differences in our understanding and practice concerning baptism, Credobaptists and Paedobaptists should be united against baptismal regeneration. Yet, we have Credobaptists who practice a tyranny of excluding outside the “true Church” those who have not followed their mode of baptism. Paedobaptists castigate their Credo brethren as being outside the covenant. In both cases the implication is that their mode of baptism actually redeems and births sinners into the household of faith.
Second, the tenant of reformation or reforming has been hijacked by liberals and heretics. Of course, we abandoned our heritage and so it was easy for it to be usurped by imposters.
Baptists are now recognized as the left-wing of the Reformation totally abandoning the actual Baptists in England who more similar to Presbyterians than anyone else. The facts and narratives have been rewritten as if the Anabaptists, who were the forbearers of the Mennonites and Amish, were even part of the Reformation. Still yet, Reformed Baptists are looked at as suspect since they are viewed as progenies of Anabaptists.
This was a problem in the beginning that the English Baptists set forth to correct in the First London Confession of Faith in 1644.
“A CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them.”
Years later in 1689, these same English Baptists followed up with the Second London Confession of Faith. In commenting about the previous misrepresentation of these Baptists as Anabaptists they had this to say.
“It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living, and walking in the way of the Lord, that we profess) did conceive ourselves to be under a necessity of publishing a Confession, of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession, by reason of the strange representation of them by some men of note who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehension of us and them. And this was first put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed in good measure answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground or occasion given on our part.”
Most of the misunderstandings had been completely cleared up to the point that they concluded the preface to show their unity with other Reformed Churches.
“WE the MINISTERS and MESSENGERS of and concerned for upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism), being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these congregations, have thought meet (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of Baptism) to recommend to their perusal the confession of our faith, which confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice, and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith…”
Notice the only point of difference worth noting is that of baptism. These Christians in London were simply Credobaptists within the Reformed faith. The disparaging remarks against Credobaptists are largely based upon the modern high jacking of the name Baptists by Anabaptists and other heretical imposters.
But before our Reformed brethren crack any additional crass remarks, it should be remembered their tradition has also been stolen by liberals, ecumenicists and heretics as well.
Yet, this is the very heart of the problem. The Reformed faith, theology, heritage and narrative belong to all Reformed Christians and should be viewed and understood as one. An attack on one is an attack on all of us whether it comes from within or without. Yet, too many times we end up helping or enabling our enemies to destroy some faction within the Reformed faith hoping our faction can then become the icon of what it means to be Reformed. This attitude is destroying all of us.
Nevertheless, we are content with our few and no more. It is all about our little kingdoms to the demise of the Church of Jesus Christ. Anyone who dares challenge this desertion of the Reformation is shouted down as an ecumenicist or a liberal. And so, we drift farther apart in isolation and some even moving toward or embracing heresy rejected by our Reformed Fathers. This sad tragedy has ruined families, churches and our nation.
The blame for our current situation lies with us. We have been full of pride, revenge, and discord and have failed to uphold and advance the Reformation. We have been more concerned about beating down our Reformed brother who made a snide remark against our Reformed practice than advancing Christ’s Holy Church.
Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity and its ministry Covenant Commission has embarked upon a mission that says enough is enough. Not only is it time to return to the faith of our fathers but continue their work of reformation. We will not abandon the head of the Church’s commission, the work of our forefathers and the glorious heritage entrusted to us. Neither will we isolate ourselves into cliques and Phariseeism.
We have been called to preach and live out the Word of God in Christ’s Church. This Catholic Church was restored during the Great Reformation all throughout Europe among different Reformed brethren be they English Baptists, Scottish Presbyterians, or Germanic Lutherans. We realize that we will not agree on every point of doctrine but should agree on the fundamentals of the Reformed faith and be counted as one Church.
Have we forgotten the work and lessons of our heritage? Each denomination of the Reformed Church sought to establish one Church in each nation throughout Europe. While this was a noble goal, the problem was that this one Church was only comprised of our own Reformed tradition to the exclusion of all the others. This was even the mindset in the colonies until finally we came to understand that all true Protestants should have a place at the table.
When there was a real possibility of creating unity in among the Protestant Churches in our States, we succumbed to bickering unnecessarily among ourselves and forsaking our Reformation vision allowing imposters to seize the moment.
Isolation, Apostolic Succession, liberalism, apathy, abandonment and deception destroyed the real chance we had to advance the Reformation into a mighty foe to capture the world for Christ. America has now gone through a revolution to create a new world order and it is all because we failed in continuing the work of the Reformation. The old order has been replaced and we have only ourselves to blame.
Therefore, we will reengage and renew this work reformation in our lives, families, churches and society “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
This work shall be long and tedious but if we are to see fruit in our children and children’s children, we must not rest but labor to be always reforming. We cannot expect perfection in any particular church and it is going to take time to return to the foundations established in the Reformation much less to build upon them in advancing Christ’s Church.
However, we believe this work is important. It is more important than our lives, fortunes and sacred honor. It is our calling and the purpose of our lives. If you have this same vision, join with us to labor in Christian love among the brethren to reform our families, churches and society for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith. There is much work to be done that will never be accomplished unless God’s people commit themselves to this cause.
Our first task is to establish the household of faith here in Mooresville and central Indiana. This particular church is the uniting of families in the Reformed faith and practice. Our goal is to seek the advancement of Christ’s Church and not our particular denomination. Reformed Christians whatever their denominational affinity, as long as they are truly Reformed, are encouraged to join with their brethren to give our lives to establish and advance Reformed congregations throughout Indiana. If this is your vision email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).