This issue of Modern Reformation is about conversation starters. We publish the magazine with the goal of suggesting conversations that are challenging, encouraging, and sometimes provocative—right at the point where the theology and spiritual life of the Protestant Reformation intersects with Christian life in the modern world. To lead off, Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton lays out our "manifesto." These are our conversation starters—the six or so topics we consider central to all serious conversations about church reform.
Also in this issue, Baptist pastor and White Horse Inn cohost Ken Jones shares valuable advice for pastors and laypeople about reforming a local church. Don't lose the trees for the forest: pray, learn, strive for clarity, tread carefully—these are a few of his tips. Along those lines, Reformation Christianity is not just for eggheads, so Reformed minister Brian Lee reminds us. The impulse to catechize and teach, to know what you believe and why you believe it, is above all things grounded in the character of our covenant-making God who has given us written documents and, through his Word and by his Holy Spirit, instructs us in the way we should go. This conviction is how the Reformation started in the first place, as WHI cohost Rod Rosenbladt explains in his article, "What Drove Luther's Hammer."
This issue also features a fascinating interview with a Chinese Christian leader to remind us that we're part of a global conversation. We also provide a brief article by Marie Notcheva about digital discipleship in difficult countries, such as Albania. The Internet is making the world a smaller place, but as persecution of the global church continues, we also include a prayer guide on the back page.
The conversational buzz in evangelicalism is frequently pierced by loud and angry voices rising above the din where small talk otherwise rules the day. We've lost the art of conversation, it would seem, in part because highly volatile shouting matches on cable news shows are about the only discussion models available. Pushing against this trend, WHI producer Shane Rosenthal reminds us of the how-to basics: humility is the first characteristic of good listening, while love, charity, and benevolence are necessary coolants to keep a conversation's engine from overheating.
The sixteenth-century Reformation unleashed a social and educational revolution. For all of our knowledge about the agencies that brought about these changes, we sometimes forget the role that person-to-person conversation played in such massive shifts. Yes, organizations were founded. But the real catalysts were clergy and laypeople talking about the ideas that mattered most for the church around dinner tables and in village squares. Visitors came from across Europe to enjoy "table talk" with Martin Luther, and young Reformed theologians stayed as house guests of the Reformers in Wittenberg and Geneva. In these ways, the reform of the church lurched forward as Christians of all kinds listened to a discussion in one place and then started a similar conversation in another. We hope you'll take seriously that Modern Reformation is more than our name—it's our mission.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "Conversations for a Modern Reformation" Sept./Oct. 2012 Vol. 21 No. 5 Page number(s): 6
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