Summary: With the 500th anniversary of Reformation (31st Oct 1517-31st Oct 2017) around the corner , Yours Truly felt inspired to come-up with a detailed 2 Part series on Reformation titled "Of Motion. Reformation and Celebration"!!! Welcome to Part 1...
Of Motion, Reformation and Celebration-Part 1
“Stagnation is self-abdication” said a wise Philosopher. Humans were made for “going places” literally and figuratively speaking in both physical and spiritual realms rather than “rotting” at one place (Gen 1:27-28/ Gen 9:7).
In this 2 part Series, Yours Truly would firstly endeavour to cast the spotlight on the significance of progression (and the principal cause behind it) in the spiritual realm even while tracing the history of the Church till the Reformation movement of the 16th century. Secondly, he would focus on the principles that undergirded the Reformation movement and their relevance thereof in the contemporary Christendom.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”- Acts 1:8
The Fundamental Law of motion designed by the all-wise God (discovered and revealed to us by Sir Issac Newton) says that we move forward whilst walking or running not just by exerting the force on earth with our feet by ourselves but by the propulsive force which the earth exerts in return when we first exert force on it. How true in the spiritual realm also!!! Simply put, the act of Gospel advancement by the spiritually vibrant Christians’ of the First century AD was always countered by the resisting forces of Evil, actually resulting in furtherance of God-honoring work. Simply put Gospel advancement has essentially been through ages “a fight between the liberating truth on one side and the lies of the Devil on the other”. How often in Christian history, we have witnessed the persecutions breaking out. But it may not have registered on many that these persecutions prima-facie exerting pressure in the opposite direction to the Gospel advancement had actually induced further beneficial growth of the
a) Church at large (scattered Christians coming out of the their “comfort zone” of Jerusalem thanks to persecution, went about preaching the Gospel everywhere- Acts 8:4) besides
b) Building up the character of the persecuted ones’ (Romans 5:3-4/ James 1:2-4), making them “move forward”, as it were spiritually. Truth be told, minus the persecutions (the scope of it is also controlled by the infinitely Wise God- 1 Cor 10:13) Apostle Paul or the genuine Christians’ of different stages of Church history would not have grown spiritually (in Christ-like qualities like meekness, gentleness and exemplary patience) to an extent desired by the Master.
While on Church History, let it be told at this stage that till Reformation, it can broadly be divided into the following ages... so here goes...let’s hit the rewind button...
1.Apostolic Church Age: AD 30 AD to AD 100- A period ranging from the Birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to 100 AD when the last of the Apostles namely John the Beloved (John21:20) died. Yes, persecution was rampant during this age too especially during the rule of Roman Emperors’ like Nero and Domitian, however this age is not clubbed with the Persecution age mainly in deference to the Apostles (who are rightly called the Foundation of the Church- Eph 2:20) who lived during that time. I reiterate that since Apostles’ had to be given “Pride of place” (rightly so) in Church History that this age was thus called and not clubbed with the following “Persecutions age”.
2.The Persecuted Church Age: AD 100 to AD 313 AD- From the death of Apostle John to the “conversion” of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity. In the interim period, when persecution was severe during the reigns of other Roman Emperors’ like Marcus Aurelius, Trajan Decius, Publius Valerian...Law of Spiritual progression (I began my essay with the same) was very much in operation what with the Church flourishing spiritually. Persecution, we should remember also always separates “Wheat from the chaff” with only the genuine Children of God hanging unto the Lord, irrespective of the consequences, whereas others would be “swept away”. From our Heavenly Father’s perspective a Church faithfully enduring persecutions would appear to be “pure gold”. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else!!!
3.Imperial Church Age: AD 313 to AD 476- With Roman Empire itself turning into a Patron Saint from being a Persecutor courtesy the conversion of Emperor Constantine , the Church had “unwelcome visitors”...those souls who wanted to embrace Christianity just because they wanted to identify themselves with the “faith of the Emperor” and not because of any new found love for the Saviour. These folks inside the Church without a genuine born-again experience (Acts 2:37-41) were bound to be more of a liability than an asset. What harm the Devil couldn’t inflict upon the “Body of Christ” from “far outside”, he could now do from much “closer quarters”.
4.Medieval Church Age: 476 AD to 1517 AD- The age of “Bye, Bye persecutions...Hello Complacency”. With refining persecutions out of the way, complacency was bound to creep in, Soon the Church lapsed into what is now known as the “detestable Dark Age”. Talk of King David at the peak time of Israeli military might drifting into “idiocy of indolence” (wouldn’t go to war with his soldiers-2 Sam 12-which paved the way for his hideous sins soon after). Oh how spiritually vibrant was he, when he had to be on his toes both physically and spiritually, as it were, whilst encountering persecutions wrought by his enemy King Saul!!