The Reformed Faith is always described in textbooks as a debate about doctrines too weak to capture the passions of the great majority of Christians; one must marvel that men would lay down their lives over such impossible-to-understand doctrines. Surely something is missing from our church history courses. I wonder why?
The Reformed Faith, at least the practical application of the Reformed Faith, is still understood by ordinary Christians who never did, nor ever will, take a history course from pointy-headed church intellectuals.
In the time of Luther, the church owned one third of all property in Europe. The church claimed power to save or condemn from inside history. The Christ standing outside history and speaking through his Bible was ignored. The civil government, the people, and the family all stood in fear of arbitrary power. The Reformation didn't begin with the 95 debate points nailed to the church door at Wittenburg. It began when Luther threw the pope's order of excommunication into the fire. Kings, princes, governments, and shopkeepers were ready to make war for freedom from a tyrannical church claiming power not given to it by the word of God.
In those nations that threw off the yoke of Rome, a great burst of prosperity exploded. Northern Europe, England, and America became masters of the world, and all others enjoyed only the crumbs from the master's table. The Industrial Revolution came first to Protestant nations and nowhere else.
Today, however, the West is declining in every way. The birth rates of northern Europe and America are below replacement. We are a dying culture that could soon burn on the ash heap of history. What is the reason? The history of the first Reformation is not taught anywhere, not even in church schools, as the triumph of God's law over church law. In fact, the false plan of salvation taught by our television evangelists and effeminate pastors claims to free the sinner from the law of God. Lawless, permissive love has replaced the Lord's stern warning, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (Jn. 14:15). If heaven has an underclass of slum dwellers, today's pastors will surely dwell in them. We shall not all be equal in heaven. The Lord warns, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:19). If sinners can ignore the Ten Commandments, cannot the civil government also? Now, you know why some Democrats say, "Clinton didn't break any law." This filthy doctrine was taught to the Democrats by the Republican clergy. Is it any wonder that ". . . judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17)?
I believe, however, Western man will not die on the ash heap of history because a great Christian revival has been going on for the past thirty years. My high school class of 1953 never gathered at the flagpole for prayer, nor did we have a Bible study group, nor did we hear any arguments against evolution. All of these are common in schools today. We never heard of home schooling, Promise Keepers, or humanism as a bad idea. The "good old days" were not that good. We old guys should rise above our prejudices and admit the truth. Behind the conservative movement is the new Christian Reformation. This time, the monster sitting in the temple claiming to speak for God is civil government. The church shivers like a wet mouse, while our government claims to define the family, sexual relationship, and every area of life. The American government owns over thirty percent of our land in direct contradiction to its own law. One day a few Christians will say, "We will not serve you any longer. You can't take our children to die in wars that are not justified by the Bible. You can't take the property that belongs to my family to buy votes from your friends. You can't protect baby killers, homosexuals, and adulterers and claim to speak for God. The law of God forbids such things. The government must obey the law of God or else!"
When this happens, a new burst of prosperity greater than the first Reformation will explode like a star in the sky. Our enemies in the civil government and the church will step forward to claim credit, but the real heroes of this reformation will reign with the heroes of the first Reformation forever in heaven. If you get there, you will find us living in the upscale mansions of the permanent world above.
- Ellsworth McIntyre