While Matt makes the statement “Why the time is not right for another Reformation”.
I have to say that maybe reformation is the wrong word to choose when looking towards the future of the church.
Yes our church history points towards “reformation” as the catalyst for change. Though I think we are improperly pointing back towards reformation to describe where the church is heading.
Yes, emergent, could be seen as a reformation of protestantism. Though I do not think this is the goal of whatever is happening now. I agree when Matt says “The institutional church could use work, could be streamlined, but I think the real change now has to happen on the individual level.” Yes!!! We are in great need of people in leadership and those who are not in leadership (who probably should be), to stir up the church and get people off their asses!!!
Whatever is happening now, call it emergent, call it reformation, is that people are finally having a personal encounter with a God who is not contained within the box of mainline Christianity in America. They are beginning to be aware that God is a global God, they are becoming aware that God is not a white God, they are becoming aware that more than “born again” christians seek God in a real and meaningful way.
While Matt contends that the church could not be headed towards a reformation because “I think the church is lacking one thing essential for a reformation: institutional corruption. I believe that for the most part, the American church today is not corrupt on the institutional level.”
I have to say that it may not be political corruption, or even money as the source of corruption. I see the corruption as complacency and a desire to make God a happy, loving God, instead of a big, wild, unknown, stern and gracious God.
As much as I’d love to know exactly what God is going to do next, or how he is going to respond to a certain situation, I in no way want to live under a predictable God who makes everything come up roses all the time.
The hunger and thirst is there. I know plenty of people and students who struggle daily with just understanding who God is. My hope is that church can move towards being places where people can publicly and freely question who God is, wrestle with the fact that they don’t have a clue to what God is up to or where he is in their lives. Instead of having God dictated to them in 3 points or with the historical understanding of Pauline ethics in a post Christocentric Middle East.
The reform comes when we challenge (not necessarily break down) the current context of the way our relationship with God is lived out under the guidance of Church.
I am and have been a fence rider.
I would love to see churches come to an understanding that nothing is necessarily broken that needs to be abandoned and re-built, but that we can acknowledge that there are a few cracks in the foundation and that possibly some serious repairs and re-thinking needs to occur, but that everything is not lost.
We are on the brink of re-defining reformation. We do not need to repeat the mistakes of Catholic separation. We do not need a new “division”. We need to re-define a few things. And reformation is one of them. Change is what we are after. Change can bring healing if done in the correct way.
I think we are the generation that is learning that changed does not have to be violent or divisive. We are the generation who wants God to happen. And we are praying that he once again becomes the sole reason that Church exists.