In This Issue

Ryan Glomsrud
Wednesday, March 2nd 2011
Mar/Apr 2011

In this issue of Modern Reformation we turn to missions and evangelism. Let us never falter in recalling how important it is both to get the gospel right and to get the gospel out. Jesus himself indicated that the Word would go forth immediately upon arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. He commissioned the disciples, declaring that they would be witnesses "in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Indeed, by the time of Peter's first sermon in Acts, momentum was gathering. Jesus' declarations were fulfilled, and with great confidence in the work of the Spirit we continue today to see God build his church. All authority belongs to Christ! This is his world and his mission, which is what we need to grasp to be part of the coming and going to near and far-off places’wherever there are ears to hear. After all, as Peter preached, "The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself" (Acts 2:38-39).

But God's emissaries are called to preach the gospel, not to be the gospel. The latter is quite simply impossible, though you wouldn't know it from popular evangelical rhetoric. That is why with characteristic wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton challenges the "monasticism" of current writers on missional spirituality. Under the magnifying glass is the oft-heard phrase coined by Francis Assisi, "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." To the contrary, Horton argues that we need to work for a "new reformation" according to God's Word. An appropriate response to the Great Commission begins with a proper understanding of discipleship’disciples being those followers of Christ who are glad to hear and embrace the gospel rather than offer up their acts of service as fulfillment of the Great Commission.

We are not alone in crying out for a modern reformation of our churches, for such was the theme of Christopher Wright's recent address to the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa. We include a full interview with Wright for your careful consideration of the current state of contemporary missions. Life is complicated, however, so we also need to reflect upon the challenges that face the advancement of Christ's kingdom in every generation, from the sixteenth century down to the current "burned-over" generation. Author Simonetta Carr introduces us to Renée of France, a woman of the Reformation era who struggled to play her part in the spread of the evangelical cause in Europe and received pastoral care from John Calvin in the process. David Zahl, author and founder of the Mockingbird blog, offers an up-to-date evaluation of the emerging generation's cynicism and spiritual malaise. It is packed with hard-hitting, honest, and accurate insights, giving us much food for thought. Communicating law and gospel with creativity’now that is a way forward!

Unfortunately, we frequently make the gospel commission more difficult by transporting an "American" gospel (which is no gospel) around the world. Reverend Fletcher Matandika, a minister in the Central African Presbyterian Church, offers a sobering and pleading word in his "Open Letter to North American Churches." This sets on the table the "translation" issues that must always be faced in moving from one culture to another, and Reverend Donald Richmond of the Reformed Episcopal Church offers a timely reflection in this regard on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Similarly, Leon Brown of the Evangelism Team encourages us to let our words be seasoned with salt, and includes a number of very practical suggestions in aid of personal evangelism.

There are many things to take away from this issue, but first and foremost be encouraged, in the words of Dennis E. Johnson, by "the global dimensions and the glorious advance of Christ's kingdom through the proclamation of the cross in the might of the Spirit, and the wide embrace of God's grace that knits persons from every race, ethnicity, and language into one new people of God."

Ryan Glomsrud
Executive Editor

Wednesday, March 2nd 2011

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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