Ever felt like one of the “sons of thunder,” wanting to call down fire from heaven against the liberals and Catholics who have departed from our-version-of-orthodox Christianity? I’m willing to admit that I have. How about you? Well, here are some very challenging thoughts from Alastair over at adversaria:
We can often take a posture similar to that of Jonah in relation to Nineveh. We see the liberal church and delight to pronounce divine judgment upon it, not thinking that God may have a purpose of surprising grace in the situation. The story seldom ends in quite the same way as we think that it will do. Our God is a god who adds the twist to every tale.
It has been almost five hundred years since the Reformation began and yet, despite numerous predictions of its imminent demise over the last centuries, the Roman Catholic church is still with us. In fact there are exciting signs of new life in many quarters. There has been a resurgence of biblical scholarship. Among the laity in many areas there has been an increased reading of the Bible. As Mark Noll has observed, with the new Catholic lectionary more Scripture is read in Catholic worship than is read in many Protestant congregations. Some of the finest theology of the last century has come from Roman Catholics. Undoubtedly many of the errors are still widespread. However, the story is far from over. I would not be surprised if God still has wonderful purposes for the Roman Catholic church.
As liberals and Roman Catholics return from the far country, our Father, who has wept over them and long desired their restoration, runs out to meet them with open arms and showers them with His gifts. What will we do? Will we rejoice in their restoration, or will we be more concerned that God acknowledge our superiority over them? Will we find ourselves left outside, while God uses the prodigals to accomplish His great works in the world? Will we be prepared to submit to Godâ€™s wisdom if it is through the work of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals and Baptists that He chooses to deepen the Churchâ€™s understanding of His Word over the next century and accomplish a new great reformation? For all of our trumpeting about the gospel of grace, are we at risk of forgetting that it has the uncanny habit of bringing unexpected endings to the stories that we find ourselves in? ***
I say then, have the Roman Catholics stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, Godâ€™s blessing has come to the Protestants. Now if the fall of the Catholics brings riches for us, and their failure blessings for the Protestants, how much more their fullness!
Alastair’s words have touched me deeply on this subject and I sense the overwhelming compassion of Jesus coming through this lengthy post, “Thoughts on Denominations, Church Union and Reunion 1″ and “The Denominational Church.”
HT: One Truth & Internet Monk