Happy Reformation Day!
Updated: Aug 8
Happy Reformation Day!
This day marks a series of glorious things in history.
Justification is a profound word. It has deep theological implications as well as real implications for living. It is a central topic in what would lead to the Protestant Reformation. This protest, centralized on what truly justifies humans, reformed and created new wineskins, deemphasized the power of institutions, strengthened the bonds between the individual and scripture, decentralized the church and empowered the powerless just to name a few.
But what happens when the church itself goes astray? When the church becomes too institutionalized and centralized? When the church becomes more of a club than the hands and feet of Jesus?
The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth suggested that the church should always be reforming. In other words, we are called to examine our hearts and test our ways. We are called to look at the way we do church.
Paul portrays the church as the “body” of Jesus. Among other things, that means we are supposed to be something physical, a manifestation of Christ's tangible presence in our neighborhood and the nations. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus (his body). When the way of Jesus is embodied by his people, the church impacts and transforms its community.
Just like the reformers, our generation inherits a version of the church. And what we inherit is just that, a version of the church, imperfect, with old wineskins, man-made traditions and teachings. Therefore, we should critique the version of the church we inherit. We should look at the way we do church. And the way we do that is to go back to the new testament.
Every generation is meant to return to the first church as its inspiration and aspiration. We are people of the Book. We go to the Bible as learners and let it dictate the way we do church. We go to Scripture because it contains our roots, it is also our hope and never fails to capture the imagination of every generation who reads it with wonder, faith and humility.
As we study the first church with a teachable and humble heart, and long for the life of the early church to come again in our time, we will be able to critique our inherited form and experience renewal. We do not critique for destruction but for renewal and reformation.
The more I read the New Testament, the more I am convinced that the early church was always meant to inspire imitation and renewal. Every reformation of the church was rooted in this return to a primitive ecclesiology. As we celebrate Reformation Day, I want to encourage you to go back to the book because it is in deep contemplation of the early church and the New Testament that reformation is born, again and again.
Again, Happy Reformation Day!
Thankful for you, your friendship and partnership in the glorious gospel of Christ!!!
About the author:
Stanley J. Philippe serves in Santiago, Dominican Republic, as a cross-cultural church planter alongside his wife and children. He is a pastor at the multicultural community church and assists in overseeing a network of churches in the Caribbean. His passion is to see lives and communities transformed by the power of the Gospel.
Facebook: Stanley J. Philippe