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The Dark Side of the Reformation

line The Dark Side of the Reformation

Pause and Consider

0619

11.08.17

‘The Dark Side of the Reformation’

 

Last week we highlighted the Protestant Reformation, as its 500th anniversary was celebrated Oct. 31, 2017.  The Reformation changed the world.  It is not far off to say that it led to the period we know as the Age of Enlightenment (1600-1800), and then to the Industrial Revolution (1700-1900).  Western civilization was changed forever by the Reformation.  The gospel has been preached around the world as a result and millions of lives have been changed.

There is however, another side to the coin, a dark side to the Reformation.    The first dark mark on the Reformation is the persecution the Reformers executed towards those who did not agree with them. There have always been those who held tenaciously to God’s Word in contrast to the word of man.  They were called by various names down through the years.  Many were imprisoned and even killed by the very people who were rejecting the oppression of the Church.  This even occurred in early America. Tolerance was not a feature of the Puritans.

The second dark spot is that the Reformers did not leave the idea of a state church.  Thus, various Protestant churches became the state church in various European countries.  When the Thirteen American Colonies were established, at least eight of them had their own state church.  This is something that was finally corrected by the first sentence of the 1st Amendment to our Constitution— “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The third area of darkness is the fact that though the Protestant Churches left the Church, they did not leave all its practices. Primary among these practices is infant baptism.  Though it was a practice invented by the Church they were leaving, and is not found in the Bible, it was ingrained in the minds of the Reformers.  It continues to be practiced widely in Protestantism.

The word translated ‘baptism’ means to dip, plunge or immerse.  It never means to sprinkle or pour.  The English word ‘baptize’ was created by the (primarily) Anglican translators of the Bible into English.  Had it been properly translated as ‘immerse’ there would be no question about the mode of the practice.

As to the candidates for immersion, there is no record of any infant being immersed in Scripture.  Immersion in Scripture is for those who have trusted Christ as personal Savior, a means of displaying that trust.  Immersion is intended to be a picture of death and burial—a person is placed into the water and comes back out—showing an identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Sadly, multitudes of Protestant people are told that when they were sprinkled as a baby, they entered the Kingdom of God. This is not taught in Scripture.  It is the giving of a false hope.  To come up with that idea, one must try and connect NT baptism with OT circumcision—there being no connection.  There is a play on people’s fears that a dead infant might not make it to heaven, whereas Scripture teaches that all infants go to heaven.

A last stain on the Reformation is replacement theology—the concept that God is through with Israel, and that the Church has replaced Israel as to its promises and future.  Paul contradicts this notion clearly showing that God has a future for Israel (Romans 11:25-27).

The Reformation was a wonderful event in the history of Western civilization.  However, it did not go far enough.  The Bible, especially the NT, is the only rule for faith and practice. God intends that we study, understand and practice it.


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