For years, we have sought to ground in the pages of Scripture all of the rich resources emerging from the Reformation, so that the recovery of those resources wouldn't be called into question as a sort of idiosyncratic advancement of a particular theological agenda. We believe the Reformation recovered the central themes of Scripture that the church slowly had abandoned (as it tends to do in every generation, including that of the apostles). Over these years, we have identified movements and ideas we believed put the evangelical church in America in danger: the culture war that put politics into the pulpit; the "evangelical megashift" that replaced theological themes with therapeutic and relational themes; postmodernism–both the challenges and the opportunities of a new era; the "higher life" theologies of Arminianism and Pentecostalism; the devolution of evangelical media outlets; contemporary Gnosticism; Open Theism; the Church Growth Movement; the New Perspective on Paul; the Federal Vision; the emerging church; the new Atheism. Each of these issues (and many more) strike at the heart of reformational Christianity because they strike at Scripture. It isn't just that they take a different theological position or emerge from a different historical era; the problems in evangelical churches (and our own reformational churches) all stem from a failure to submit our churches, our theology, and ourselves to Scripture.
So, for the first time we are devoting an entire year to Scripture: why it needs to be recovered; how we understand its divine and human authorship; how its different books were recognized as being truly God's Word; how the church relates to it; how we should interpret it; how to understand its two big words of law and gospel; and why the recovery of sola Scriptura is, finally, the church's only hope. In this issue, we're starting the conversation with an article by David Nienhuis, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, an institution recently awarded a Lilly Grant to determine why its students (nearly all from solid, evangelical homes) arrived at this Christian college with nearly no grasp of the Bible. Following is a pastoral meditation from Lutheran minister Charlie Mallie, who counts the cost of our ignorance of Scripture in the lives of those who gather to worship each week in our churches. Jacob Smith, a young Episcopalian minister in New York City, takes up the question of our secular culture's view of the authority of Scripture: can Scripture ever be said to be an authority over those who refuse to recognize it as such? Nate Palmer, an evangelical layman, helps us to remember and recover the joy of hearing God speak through Scripture. Finally, Michael Horton, our editor-in-chief, finishes off with an appeal for Scripture (sung, read, and preached) to be central in our churches again.
The theme for this year was born out of the conviction that we all need to recover Scripture: in our churches, in our devotional lives, as the source of our theology, and as the living voice of God today. If you share this conviction, I'd like you to join the conversation by sending in your own thoughts–as letters to the editor, as longer responses in our "Open Exchange" column, and as comments on our blog at www.whitehorseinn.org. Make photocopies of the articles that resonate with you and distribute them to your Bible study or fellowship group. Use the social networking tools on your computer to help recover Scripture in your own circles of influence. Modern Reformation isn't just our name–it's our mission and we want you to partner with us in the pursuit of it.