Letter from the Editor

Eric Landry
Friday, September 1st 2017
Sep/Oct 2017

History is written by the victors. That truism is being put to the test this year as we celebrate the Reformation’s five-hundredth anniversary. Churches across the world—however tenuous their connection to the Reformation—are joining in its victory parade, eager to share some of the glory of Luther, Calvin, and the other Reformers.

What exactly are we all celebrating? After all, we lost. All the darkest predictions of the Reformers’ Catholic opponents came true: The Reformers didn’t reform the Roman Catholic Church, nor did their efforts result in one or two viable alternatives to Roman Catholicism. Since 1517, the number of Christian churches (loosely defined) has ballooned to more than 30,000 groups. Among those churches, few continue to care about the issues that drove Luther’s hammer. Anyone who cares about the Reformation—who sees it as a necessary correction to the medieval church, who is grateful for the evangelistic fervor still being felt across the Global South—must also acknowledge the hard truth that those who follow in the footsteps of the Reformers are a small minority today.

It’s not that Catholicism has fared much better. Their current Vicar of Christ seems intent on upsetting the foundations of traditional teaching that were Rome’s best argument against the Reformers.

So, if both the Reformers and Catholicism lost, then who won? Inasmuch as it’s even possible (or proper) to speak of a winner in the midst of that turmoil, we must acknowledge that the Radicals are the victors. Drawn from disaffected Reformers and fringe mystics, the Radicals are united by their insistence on a strict biblicism that rejected both sola scriptura and the magisterial authority of the Roman Church. They developed aberrant doctrines about the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the place of baptism in the Christian life, and the relationship of the Christian to the state. They tore at the social fabric as well as the religious sensibilities of the time.

In this issue, we’re acknowledging the hard truth that the Radicals won. Why? Because their vision of the church and the core tenets of their theology are firmly ensconced in most modern versions of Christianity, especially American Christianity. Even though we lost, we have not given up the fight. We still protest—not just against Rome and the Radical Anabaptists, but also against an “enthusiasm” that’s become the new normal in much of our own Christian world today. We still believe that the rich resources of the Reformation must be brought to bear on the modern church if we are to recover the joy, hope, and confidence of the gospel. The Radicals may have emerged victorious, but their idea of the Christian life is not sustainable. Our prayer with this issue is that you will have a clear-eyed vision of what really happened during the Reformation and what must happen in the years to come if we are to be faithful to the work of our forefathers in the faith.

Eric Landry executive editor

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Eric Landry
Eric Landry is the chief content officer of Sola Media and former executive editor of Modern Reformation. He also serves as the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.
Friday, September 1st 2017

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

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