Saturday, September 10, 2011

Unity and Purity 1: Beginnings of Protestantism

I love what Lovelace has to say about how the Evangelical movement historically has sought “to spread the leaven of the kingdom of God within the largest and most comprehensive church structures, rather than as a separatist movement…” (Dynamics, p. 294).  This gives me great hope that my heritage as an Evangelical Christian is ultimately one of seeking unity with as broad a sweep as possible within Christendom. I’m encouraged to know that just because I am a “Protest-ant,” even within the history of the movement I am a part of, there has been a concerted effort to heed, rather than disregard, that portion of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer that His Beloved would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11,22). Listen to Lovelace in describing the intention of Martin Luther the “first man” of the Protestant Reformation:

Luther himself in the early years of his reforming work was aiming, not at separation, but at the renewal of Western Catholicism. As late as 1520 he was still appealing “to the Pope better informed” and hoping that action from the head of the church system might heal the decay in its members. It is true that in the year he came to conclude that the apostasy of Rome was irremediable and that the roman system was in fact the predicted expression of Antichrist in history- an eschatological assumption that was to haunt Protestant/Catholic relations for centuries…. But the origins of modern Evangelicalism as a pan-denominational renewal movement can be traced back to his proposal in the Preface to the German Mass that the church be renewed not by separation but by the formation everywhere of ecclesiolae in ecclesia, little churches, within the church.  Dynamics, p. 294

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