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White Horse Inn: The Radical Reformation

On this program, the hosts continue their discussion which began last week on the influence of the Radical Reformation. How did the theology of the Anabaptist and Pietist movements end up influencing so many forms of Protestantism, both here in America and around the world? And more specifically, how did these views shape the founders of the Enlightenment and help create what we know today as Protestant Liberalism? Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Christianity & LiberalismHost Quote:

“We are continuing our discussion of the impact of the other reformation we hardly ever talk about, the Radical Reformation, on liberal Protestantism. Radicalism didn’t come from the Reformation. It’s often called the ‘leftwing reformation’ but it actually came from the late Middle Ages. A movement that came to be known as radical Anabaptism was millennial and utopian, expecting a radical age of the Spirit that would wash away all history and tradition and all external authority.

“This radical impulse has been part of Protestantism down to the present day. And if you look at Protestant Liberalism today, it looks very similar to this radical Anabaptist movement, as do many evangelical movements. And so, in a really profound way, even though evangelicals and liberals are at each other’s throats, they are more engaged in a sibling rivalry than they are successors of Luther and Calvin. In this program, we want to look at the ongoing influence of this radical element in Protestantism that is totally different from the 16th century Reformation led by Martin Luther and other reformers.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Liberalism”

In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called “liberalism.”

This movement is so various in its manifestations that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will apply to all its forms. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism—that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity. (Adapted from J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Radical Reformation

According to a recent Pew study, 53% of American Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation, and fewer than 30% of white Evangelicals were unable to identify Protestantism as the faith which embraces the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

On this program, the hosts will attempt to show that contemporary Christians, whether liberal or conservative, have more in common with the theology of the Anabaptist reformers than they do with the views of Luther and Calvin expressed in the great Reformation solas. Join us as we continue to think about the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Much of the hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year has been, well, let’s just say, blather.  At a joint service in Lund, Sweden, on October 31st, 2016, Pope Francis and the president of the World Lutheran Federation exchanged warm feelings. Reverend Martin Junge, general secretary of the mainline Lutheran body said in a press release from the joint service, ‘I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we’re working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn by conflict and violence.’  Clearly, the focus wasn’t on truth.

“Acknowledging Luther’s positive contributions, the Pope spoke of how important Christian unity is to bring healing and reconciliation to a world divided by violence.  But he added, ‘We have no intention of correcting what took place, but to tell that history differently.’ Perhaps the most evident example of missing the point is the statement by Swiss Pastor and President of an ecumenical church convention in Berlin last year, Christina Aus der Au.  She said, ‘Reformation means courageously seeking what is new and turning away from old familiar customs.’ That’s what the reformation was all about, why average lay people and archbishops gave their bodies to be burned and the western church was divided – a lot people just got really tired of the same old thing.

“The Wall Street Journal reports a Pew study showing that 53 percent of U.S. Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation.  Oddly, Jews, atheists and Mormons were more familiar with Luther than Protestants. In fact, fewer than three in ten white evangelicals correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Three in ten. Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the radical Anabaptists.  It might sound crazy, but here is my thesis. The Reformation isn’t over because it hasn’t begun in America. Protestantism is definitely over and the radicals won.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Inner Light”

The “Inner Light,” also called “Inward Light,” is often thought to be a distinctive theme of the Society of Friends (Quakers). This Inner Light is understood to be a direct awareness of God that allows a person to know God’s will for him or her. This expression is often attributed to the teachings of George Fox in the 17th century, founder of the Society of Friends, who had failed to find spiritual truth in the English churches. He experienced an inner light and voice within, “that of God in every man.” The Inner Light should not simply be a mystical experience, but should also result in a person’s working for the good of others.

The practice of Inner Light is believed to be the direct path of ascension towards the divine nature within man. The theme of Inner Light appears in various spiritual traditions as well as in the main religions of the world. Buddhism believes that the one experiences the highest nature of the mind, reaches enlightenment and liberation from the Wheel of Samsara (i.e. bodily existence).

The Society of Friends was influenced by a pivotal figure, Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a German mystic who was raised in Lutheranism. Böhme had considerable influence on Pietism and various mystical sects including Rosicrucianism and theosophy. Böhme sought a melding of various alchemical and Kabbalistic traditions that focused on the inner path to God, which finds parallels with the ancient heresy known as Gnosticism.  Böhme was also an important source for German Romantic philosophy, influencing F.W. Schelling. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist, and mystic William Blake. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was profoundly influenced by him as well. The tradition of the Inner Light reaches back into ancient mystical philosophies which have come to profoundly shape modern thinking. (Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Inner Light;” “Jakob Böhme”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Solus Christus – Christ Alone

Many Christians in our day, whether liberal or evangelical, declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, according to one survey by George Barna, 35% of America’s evangelical seminary students agreed with the statement, “God will save all good people when they die, regardless of whether they’ve trusted in Christ.”

On this program the hosts will discuss our need to recover the clear theology of a text such as John 14:6 in which Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn, as we continue our new series on “The Solas of the Reformation.”

Host Quote:

“Why do we need a divine savior to rescue us if our situation is only that we kind of are losing our way? A lot of people think of it as, we need good directions and there are really good plans out there. There’s Oprah. There is yoga. There’s the Bible. There’s Christian Science. You have all these kinds of things out there and whatever you find that’s helpful for you is great. That assumes — first of all, you have absolutely no problem before God. Your problem is only with yourself. Not that God has a problem with you, but that you have issues that you need to work on. So, you don’t really need God to save you, first of all, from himself, from his own justice by being just and the justifier of the wicked. All you need is kind of a life coach. You need somebody who kind of has some good ideas. And that is where we are today as the church. But what we really need is Christ’s atoning work, his substitutionary, vicarious sacrifice.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Therapeutic Spirituality”

Today’s spirituality is novel in the sense that it is based upon a person’s felt needs, as opposed to an authoritative person or text. Self-expression has become the new form of worship in both traditional and innovative religious practices, rather than a practice of self-denial. This spirituality adopts preference as a means of self-actualization (i.e. a way of becoming the fullest expression of yourself as a human being). The commitments to these preferences are deeply personal and subjective, which results in the expression, “Your own personal Jesus” who neither confronts with his transcendent ‘Otherness’ nor deals in categories of sin, hell, or judgment. Therapy as a model of spirituality has replaced traditional norms due to the secularization of culture (i.e., the cultural shift that has resulted in religious beliefs becoming wholly individualized and disassociated from the social sphere).  Divine Providence over mankind has been replaced by the invisible hand of economic forces. Whereas the Almighty beneficent being was previously seen as integral to daily life and well-being, today, he is seen as a cosmic bellhop who comes at our beck and call.

With the loss of life’s ‘center’ by these competing visions of reality, faith has been left only with an interior and subjective expression which allows ‘believers’ to cope with the ‘real world’ science and technology have given them. In the face of this modern nihilism (i.e., the belief that there is no true reality beyond that which is apprehended through the senses), religion has often attempted to fill the vacuum through such therapeutic modes of expression. Even in traditional, conservative contexts orthodox worship and practice may succumb to this mode of spirituality, ultimately leaving little effect upon the practice of the worshipper or in the public square at large. Concrete, external liturgical practices (such as the reading of the law, corporate confession, a declaration of pardon, and corporate supplication) are often displaced by personalized small groups that help believers in their life journey. This is deemed as more ‘relevant’ to the therapeutic man, and an improvement upon the ‘dead rituals’ that don’t speak to the hearts of worshippers. Worship thus becomes a therapy ‘session’ something akin to Alcoholics Anonymous, a place where kindred spirits can hear one another’s stories and help one another cope with their weaknesses and failures, rather than a place of divine judgment and salvation where sinful people meet with a holy God, and through faith in their Savior, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are forgiven for their rebellion, and comforted by the assurance of their salvation. (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Spirituality,” WHI [blog], August 10, 2014)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Scripture Alone

As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, today’s Protestants actually have little to be proud of as we survey the movement as a whole. The content of our messages and the shape of our worship services are largely determined by cultural preferences, marketing strategies, and crowd-pleasing techniques from the entertainment industry, rather than by Scripture.Scripture Alone

At the end of the day, what we’re left with is a kind of narcissistic spirituality that caters to the desires and felt needs of the masses, rather than a transcendent word that confronts, challenges, and rescues fallen sinners. We’re beginning a new series on “The Solas of the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Before we Protestants congratulate ourselves for being on the right side of history, we need to admit right up front that there is very little today to be proud of as we look at the movement as a whole. More often than not, we’re just as likely as medieval Roman Catholics to listen to authorities other than Scripture. The content of a typical sermon or the shape of a typical worship service is often determined not by Scripture, but by cultural preferences, marketing strategies, and by crowd-pleasing techniques we’ve gotten from the entertainment industry more than the Word of God.

“At the end of the day, what we’re left with is a kind of narcissistic spirituality that caters to the desires and felt needs of the masses, rather than a transcendent Word that confronts, challenges, and rescues fallen sinners – that word, as Martin Luther said famously, is above all earthly powers.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Protestantism”

“Protestantism” generally covers the range of Christian churches that owe their origins, directly or indirectly, to the Reformation of the sixteenth century. At the second Diet of Speyer (1529) the representatives of the Reformers “protested” in favor of the liberty of individuals to choose their own religion according to their conscience. Their opponents described them as “Protestants,” while they preferred to call themselves “evangelicals.” Despite its numerous components and its pluralism, Protestantism may be characterized by reference to certain widely shared convictions. Priority is given to salvation and to justification by faith alone. Believers are justified before God not by their works or their merit, but by grace alone. The Bible provides the exclusive standard for the Christian life and derives its meaning from its central figure, Jesus Christ, the sole mediator between God and human beings. Faith consists not in acceptance of a doctrine, but in a living and personal relationship with God. The church is a community of believers who have committed themselves to listening to the word of God and to celebrating the sacraments together. Only baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as sacraments, since they were established by Jesus Christ himself. (Adapted from Encyclopedia of Christian Theology s.v. “Protestantism.”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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