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Whatever Happened to the Reformation? Paperback – April 1, 2001
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Gary L W Johnson expands on the seminal work of Hans Frei and serves up a most memorable discourse, provocatively stating that 'Sola Scriptura has been eclipsed in many of our evangelical pulpits - not in the sense that the Bible is not appealed to or read, but in the sense in which the message of Scripture is treated as if it required supplementation by contemporary insights.' p 6 Quoting an opposing theologian, Johnson captures the moment: 'Wesleyan, Arminian, Holiness, Pentecostal and other evangelical traditions are much closer to the Catholic understanding', to which Johnson recapitulates, 'While we admit the truthfulness of this remark, it should serve only as a rebuke to those evangelicals whose tradition has departed so significantly from the gospel.' The new model of accommodation seems 'confident that in time they will not only gain acceptance, but will ascend to the forefront of evangelicalism.' p 13 The suggestion that they possess knowledge additional to biblical revelation is clearly self-serving, and as history has proven time and again, it becomes idolatrous.
'Much less frequently appreciated are the implications for how God has been pleased to reveal Himself - there is a redemptive-historical rationale not only for the content but for the giving of revelation as well. The nature of revelation is not individualistic or private. To the extent that we fall into such privatized misunderstandings of revelation, to that extent we will be left with a sense of the inadequacy (the insufficiency and incompleteness) of the Bible.' pp. 156-7
In defense of this compilation one would inadequately portray their lamentable analysis of the merging of culture and church, precisely because the time we live in demands we not be concerned with the true God. Challenges to His omniscience, absolute power and inviolable will, and to the Person of Christ and His salvific work, must apparently go unanswered. These essays go against that wish, to my delight, challenging in turn the age of pluralism where anyone may say anything and retreat safely into the bunker of tolerance. They take a biblical stand against 'the free-thinking definitions of Christianity that embrace with astonishing ease a post-modern worldview empty of creedal affirmations.' David F Wells regrets that 'This countercultural conviction is far too rare today.' The failure to attend to the whole counsel of God serves as a warning to us now, reminiscent of the Montanists, Marcionites and Gnostics as they were to the fledgling church, then. Adolf von Harnack believed that the heretic Marcion compelled the 2nd century church to give its attention to the canon question, but Reformed theologians have consistently stated that this was not the case. 'The activity of the church does not create the canon; the canon creates the church, and the church recognizes that canon [Greek for "rule"]. The viewpoint just expressed is sometimes called the a priori of faith.' p 138
'Those developments are not simply deduced a posteriori from the subsequent historical facts.' Herman Ridderbos, Redemptive History & The New Testament Scriptures p 22
We have here a penetrative inquiry into the claims of the post-modern church, and a sobering critique of the major issues that threaten the historical beliefs held by conservative Christians. What follows is off the top shelf in terms of theological achievement. Their distinctive call to return to the safe harbor of sound Christian scholarship eminently affirms our historical theological views. Of the Word of God we ask, 'Guide us in the way of truth!'