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Have the Radicals taken over the Reformation?

This thought-provoking by Michael Horton piece makes the main point that many of the principal features of our modern, secularised world are driven in part by this shift away from a God who speaks authoritatively, judging and saving us, outside of us in history, to the “god within”—meaning that our own inner voice is our sovereign ruler.

"Let’s bring this out of the clouds and down to where most of us live every day as Christians.

A cursory inventory of the most popular Christian books and preachers tells the tale.

Focusing more on inner empowerment for the autonomous self than on God himself and his work of creation, providence, redemption, justification, sanctification, glorification, and the resurrection of the body, much of the spiritual diet is “chicken soup for the soul.” Many believers consider spending time alone with God in prayer, listening for “what he is saying to me today,” as more important than going to church to gather with other sinners and hear God’s word proclaimed and receive his sacraments. We are on our home ground doing it ourselves rather than submitting to something external to our inner voice. Why try to follow difficult arguments, narratives, doctrines, and commands together with other people when we can basically look within to find the answers?

As the growth of Christianity shifts to the Global South, some forms are more faithful than their more liberal northern counterparts. Anglicans in Africa often scratch their heads, wondering what possible spiritual connection they have with the Episcopal Church in the United States. And yet American “enthusiasm” continues to spread like wildfire in extreme forms of revivalism, Pentecostalism, and the “prosperity gospel.” Conservative Protestants have become quite adept at detecting liberalism miles away. But we’re not very good at recognising more fundamentalist varieties of Gnostic enthusiasm, even when we are swimming in it.

So what exactly are we celebrating in this year of the Reformation’s five hundredth anniversary? Are we rejoicing in the reformation of the church’s doctrine and worship, away from human-centered religion to a faith centered on the Triune God and the gospel of his saving grace in Christ alone, received through faith alone, communicated through the word and the sacraments alone? Or are we celebrating the Radical enthusiasm that our culture mistakes as the Reformation: the autonomous self, individualism, free will, and inner experience and reason?"

[ Link to the complete article here: ]

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