REFORMATION (PART ONE): The Sovereignty of God, Disruption, and Unintended Consequences

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February 2017

2017 is the 500th year since what is known in Western history as «The Great Reformation.” In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door and figuratively lit a match to the conditions God had arranged to start world changes which have affected every nation today and led to the formation of all we call the «modern world.»

At its core, the Reformation was about how man sees God, the meaning of creation, and man’s place in it. It was aimed at issues far, far beyond just the reforming of practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Its theological implications laid the groundwork for changes yet to be experienced even today. It proved its true historical breadth by the affects it had on society, economics, national political identity, and the future challenges of the uneasy relationship between political activity and the role of theology in the management of nations. It literally redirected history.

Is it possible that we are on the beginning edge of such an almost-cosmic event today? I believe that we are and I hope to make my case in upcoming releases of The Bottom Line Newsletter. In over 30 years of writing this social-spiritual commentary, I have never done anything like this—that is, staying at some length on one issue. My conviction is that this current hour in which we are living is a God-timing bridge of history worthy of exploring in its monumental possibility.

Reformation requires at least four connected things:

  1. God’s applied will.
  2. Issues that are significant enough to create critical-mass social reactions.
  3. A person or identifiable movement to galvanize new members in large numbers
  4. And a common language that identifies the cause in a clear and compelling way.

I contend that we have all four of those components present today:

  1. God’s will to advance His Kingdom on earth is a standing order.
  2. The political-economic war of worldviews between the progressives on the left and the marriage of populism/anti-globalism on the right.
  3. Donald Trump and populist leaders emerging in multiple nations give us three of the four already.
  4. All we are waiting for now is the language mantras that move the process beyond mere political contexts into the realm of articulated destiny for the majority of humans.

In no way can I hope to go into the depth this prophetic subject deserves in a series of commentaries like this. What I do hope is to stimulate a serious dialogue regarding the possibility of these next decades being historic in their advancement of God’s Kingdom. I also hope to give a set of suggestions as to how we understand and work cooperatively with The Holy Spirit in our responses to what God is doing rather than what social forces are demanding us to think or do. In short, how can we midwife the Reformation and thus serve God and man with self-conscious joy in the process.

Biblical faith requires positioning ourselves before God in what I call «an openness to possibilities.» This is what I am asking you as readers to consider. Are we in fact in a moment that is far larger than a political battle between the left-right forces of just another «pendulum adjustment» in the dialectical view of historic thesis-antithesis-synthesis? Is God about to push history in ways only truly understood by sets of His people so to help midwife His church? I trust I have raised the question enough to position you in our journey.

There is a day Christ spoke of in Matthew 13:47-50: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This Scripture speaks to the Kingdom going «viral» into all the nations and the unsaved cohabiting with the saved for the benefits of Kingdom living before Christ’s return. Is the time in front of us and our grandchildren that He is speaking of? Remember, the effects of the Reformation of 1517 took decades to leaven the nations, but they had a clear beginning. Some understood the magnitude of what was happening in their day, just like some did in the first century church.

Our times will indeed be times of disruption and unintended consequences. I can assure you that no one was more surprised than Martin Luther at some of the consequences his actions produced (i.e., the peasant wars); so too will this time of historic conflict and major realignments produce surprises for us in our day. It is dangerous to disrupt, especially when those bent on revolution, not reformation, are in the mix and willing to push things just to see what will happen. Let’s begin the journey with «openness to possibilities» and the conviction that analyzing what we can see may well allow us to see what we should see. And that is..


To read «Reformation» Parts Two and Three, please visit The Bottom Line Archives.