Whatever Happened to the Reformation

Review by Mwaniki Wa-Gichia

This book examines the evangelical church (a term that arose out of the reformation) and analyses what has happened (to the reformation).

It starts where we would expect it to start- a summary of the Reformation’s great biblical foundations regarding salvation, the five Solas. It shows how the modern church has undermined the doctrine of God, has despised theology and taken an attitude of pragmatism over faithfulness (“we are only interested in what works today”)

This is followed by examining the cultural trend of postmodernism in the church. Postmodernism draws from two metaphors, egalitarianism and the prison metaphor. They teach that all things are equal ethically and that people are imprisoned by their ideas, concepts and language.  Its implications for the church is that language and knowledge is relative and cannot really be known or understood. This has had a profound effect on how to read and understand (or not understand) scripture for the church.

Next the problem of what is considered an old heresy entering the church in different clothing is tackled. Socinianism (a heresy that denied many important doctrines) has appeared in a different form and under different names such as openness of God theism. A theology with claims that God is not Omniscient- He does not know the future infallibly and can only work out the future from His outstanding knowledge of the present! The implications of this thinking is covered at length in the book and shows how damaging such a view is.

Lastly, the book focusses on God’s word and shows how His word is the answer to the problems identified. The writers affirm that the Canon of scripture (both testaments) is sufficient and is the final authority for faith and life for God’s people. We don’t need  revelations of a “third” kind outside the bible.

The ministry of the word and particularly the preaching of God’s word is commended for battling the cancers threatening the life of the church. In fact the last chapter is titled “Unafraid to Preach”. A reminder that the modern mind set is against biblical Christ centred preaching (remember postmodernism undermines any claim to absolutes). Nonetheless, biblical preaching is the very thing that the church should guard jealously for its posterity and well-being.

This book, though slightly academic, is helpful for understanding what the key challenges (and remedies) are for the Church and the Christian in an increasingly postmodern generation.