There used to be a time when your loyalty to the Protestant cause was judged by how much you hated Catholics. But today, with all the ecumenical dialogue, the Manhattan Declarations, the ECT council, and the postmodern virtue of tolerance, people are much more willing to let bygones be bygones. “Maybe we overreacted” is the thought of many.

To the Catholics, Protestants are no longer anathema (which is pretty bad), but are “separated brethren” (which is not so bad).

Attitudes are changing, we could argue, for the better. But have the issues changed?

Four hundred years ago we had a “situation” in the church. We call it the “Great Reformation.” Catholics understand it as yet another rebellious schism. The first major division in the Christian church happened in 1054 when the Eastern church got fed up with the Pope and thumbed its nose at him (or something like that). The Great Reformation was the second. For Protestants, this was not only a reforming of the church, but a reclaiming of the Gospel, which had been obscured and overshadowed by the institutionalized church of the day.

While there were and are a lot of issues that divide Roman Catholics and Protestants, there are two which overshadow the rest: authority and justification. The issue of authority has been called the “formal” cause of the Reformation, while the issue of justification was the “material” cause. In this brief post I would like to focus on these two issues.

1. Authority: Where do we go for truth?

To the institutionalized church of the day (now known as the Roman Catholic Church), both Scripture (written tradition) and Tradition (unwritten tradition – notice the capital “T”) represented the one ”deposit of faith” that was handed down from the Apostles. The church, as represented by the Pope and the congregation of bishops, protected and guided by the Holy Spirit, could interpret both infallibly. Think of a three-legged stool. These three entities (Scripture, Tradition, and the Church) support the stool of ultimate authority for the church.

To the Protestants, this represented an abuse of authority. While the institutionalized church had authority, it did not have ultimate authority. While tradition (notice the lower case “t”) was very important and to be respected, it did not share equal authority with Scripture; rather, it served Scripture. Everything, including unwritten tradition, the councils, and the Pope, had to be tested by and submit to Scripture. Protestants repositioned both the church and tradition underneath Scripture.

The battle cry of the Reformers here was sola Scriptura; the Scriptures alone were the final authority and the only infallible missive from God.

2. Justification: How is a person made right with God?

Here the issue was not necessarily the nature of justification, but the instrumental cause (from a human standpoint) of justification. The institutionalized church believed that justification was a process brought about by the individual’s cooperation with God through their faith and works. People were not justified, but were being justified, and they could never really know of their own eternal security. For most, the best that they could hope for was that they died and spent a certain amount of time (usually very extended) in a place called Purgatory, having their venial sins (the ones that are not so bad) purged through a painful process of cleansing. Then, once released from Purgatory, they would move on to heaven. As modern Roman Catholics would put it, “Purgatory is the time to wash before dinner.”

The Protestants believed this was a serious distortion of the Gospel message, likened to the Galatian error. This distortion, argued the Protestants, arose in the late middle ages with the rise of the sacramental system (you know, the necessity of Mass, confession, baptism, etc.). Protestants believed that justification was through the faith of the individual alone and that works did not contribute in any way. Otherwise, it was believed, grace is not really grace. To the Reformers, justification was an event, not a process. It was a “forensic” or a legal act in which the believing sinner was declared righteous, having Christ’s righteousness imputed to their account. There was nothing that man could do to add to or take away from their justification. Any attempts to work for one’s justification (including time spent in Purgatory) diminished the value of the cross; in essence, saying Christ’s  work was not enough. As well, Protestants, unlike Catholics, believed that we could have assurance of our ultimate salvation.

The battle cry of the Reformation was sola fide; justification is by faith alone, not by any works man can do.

Again, there were other issues that caused great strife during the Reformation (Mariology, relics, communion of the Saints, etc.), but they all paled in comparison to these two. While the tension and heat that immediately accompany any fight have since cooled, recent events have not changed the centrality of these two issues. Most Protestants and Catholics still believe that these are hills upon which we should die, even if neither side conclusively believes the other is going to hell.

We must keep in mind, however, how much the two sides do agree. When it comes to the person and work of Christ, conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics (along with Eastern Orthodox) all believe that Jesus Christ is the God-man (fully God and fully man) who died on the cross and rose bodily from the grave as the atonement for sin. All believe that salvation is purely by the grace of God and that the faith of the individual is necessary. And, significantly, all believe that Christ is the only way to God.

Was the Reformation necessary? I believe so. The communication and purity of the Gospel was at stake. Amidst all the concessions being made today, we need to keep this in mind: things have not changed that much. We can love each other and appreciate the common heritage we share. We can even learn much from one another. But there is still a serious divide and Protestants dare not compromise the Gospel by sweeping the Reformation under the rug. The Gospel is too important.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    207 replies to "The Great Reformation in a Nutshell"

    • James-the-lesser

      194. Fr. Robert: Yeah, I am with you on this one. I think Jungel makes a fine attempt to cover the bases that need covering in Barth along these line. Take care. 🙂

    • Btw, again, Barth’s lack of dealing with “evil” is almost like some of the EO, “Orthodoxy”. Indeed, we must thank Leibniz for the concept of “theodicy” – that part of theology concerned with defending the goodness and omnipotence of God in the face of suffering and “evil” of the world. And of course the Reformation and Reformed best dealt with this, in the Pauline “theologia crucis”, and here too, is the great doctrine of the Sovereignty of God!

    • James-the-lesser

      197. Fr. Robert:

      I’ve got to be honest with you. It has been so long since I connected with Leibniz that I will have to refresh what little memory I have of him. Interestingly enough, the Bible speaks of 2 great mysteries among others: the mystery of Godliness and the mystery of iniquity. This brings me to the whole idea of mystery. Is mystery just another way of saying “without words” in some instances? We can certainly experience Godliness and iniquity; albeit, however, God in His total essence is certainly a mystery that only He is capable of comprehending. I think it would be interesting to see a blog on the use of language in theology, both in its adequacy and inadequacy. It is terribly frustrating isn’t it to be confined and restricted to words to express experience isn’t it?

    • ‘Thy undistinguishing regard, Was cast on Adam’s fallen race; For all Thou hast in Christ prepared Sufficient, sovereign, saving grace.’ (Charles Wesley, hymn)

      Rom. 3: 25, God’s ‘mercy-seat’ = Christ! Full expiation of and from sin. The collective position of grace. Sin has been defeated, but not taken from the boundary of this life and world!

      ‘The true treasure of the church is the Holy Gospel and the glory and grace of God.’ – Luther

      And the mystical union of Christ with the believer is moral, and faith based, rather than in mystical terminology alone -the regenerating moral exchange of a substitutionary atonement, within Christ and faith.

    • Btw, to regress just a bit, this book by Charlotte von Krschbaum, on Women/Woman is a must read! Not that I follow all of it myself, but it puts the whole Barth/Krschbaum so-called affair in a better light! Here is just the Intro somewhat.

    • James-the-lesser

      Response to Fr. Robert:

      Leibniz? Oh, mighty Leibniz. My memory has been refreshed! In essence, it seems he as well as others appear to suggest some type of subordinated moralistic and limited dualism which in my opinion would have to operate under the attributes of a Godly triad of his love coupled with his omnipotence and omniscience. Love must be factored in; otherwise, there is no guarantee of love ever trumping evil. However, for the success of the best of all possible worlds to be the best of all possible worlds there must be choice, which implies freedom. So, in a sense ‘freedom’ is a necessary ingredient to assure any meaning at all to ‘choice.’ And, without ‘choice’ there can be no justice.

    • Yes indeed “freedom”, but this is very problematic for man, as he is an outright sinful being! To my mind, man has only by God’s common grace, a responsible will (not a free will), and this can only damn him, but never really save him! (Matt. 22: 14) Indeed GOD’s “justice” is not mirrored or seen in us; only the Federal Vision of God! (Rom. 9)

    • On the run today! Maybe later?

    • Lora

      I have only read the 1934 debate between Barth and Emil Brunner titled Nature and Grace.

      Brunner’s statements reflected clear reasoning and his attitude reflected respect for Barth. However, Barth’s statements reflected circular reasoning and his attitude reflected paranoia- continually accusing Brunner of personal attacks.

      I wrote an essay on their debate- here is my concluding paragraph:

      In his reaction to the philosophical theology of the Enlightenment, Barth rejected the Reformer’s view of general revelation as well as Calvin’s understanding of human dignity and common grace. Whereas Barth is justified in charging Brunner with misunderstanding and misrepresenting the role of reason in Roman Catholic doctrine, Brunner is justified in charging Barth for misunderstanding the Reformers’ view of natural theology.

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      That link didn’t do a lot to change my opinion on the subject. I didn’t read the whole thing, but did read quite a bit.

      It won’t let me copy and paste, but note that on page 8 in the introduction it says as close as I can remember it, “This seems to have marked the beginning of her romantic involvement with him, and of her commitment to do all she could to advance his work.”

      That is really reassuring, “Her romantic involvement with him.”

      There is another thread on the subject at Greg’s (Tiribulus) blog here:

    • Lora

      Three more brief paragraphs:

      Brunner mentions Luther’s appeal to “clear reason” when he refused to recant at the Diet of Worms, pointing out that the problem between Reason and Revelation “requires thoroughgoing theological treatment.” (Brunner, 17-18) Geisler seems to meet this requirement in his description of the interrelationship between revelation and reason, by stating, “One should reason about and for revelation, otherwise he has an unreasonable faith. Likewise, reason has no guide without a revelation and flounders in error.” (Geisler, 270)

      According to the recent author R.C. Sproul, reconstructing the “classical synthesis by which natural theology bridges the special revelation of Scripture and the general revelation of nature” means “the thinking person could embrace nature without embracing naturalism.” (Sproul 2000, 203) Apparently, Sproul supports Brunner’s position of finding a true natural theology. Paul borrowed numerous ideas from Greek philosophy, including the theme of natural theology, as described in the first two chapters of Romans. Similar to Brunner, Sproul’s view of general revelation and of nature is consistent with Scripture, especially the first two chapters of Romans.

      Overall, this reviewer can support Barth’s disagreement with Enlightenment philosophy and his rejection of its influence within theology of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most Christians would agree with Barth’s strong stand for the truth of Scripture. However, his rejection of natural theology implies rejecting the first two chapters of Romans, which after all, belongs to the Word of God.

      Geisler, Norman L. and Paul D. Feinberg. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids, Michigan:Baker Books, 1980.

      Sproul, R. C. The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped
      Our World. Wheaton, IL:Crossway Books, 2000.

      Brunner, Emil and Karl Barth. Natural Theology.
      Peter Fraenkel, Translator
      Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002

    • Lora

      Robert (Fr) Anglican

      I just checked out the link you provided…thank you for recommending this book- I just ordered it 🙂

    • James-the-lesser

      206. Lora: Right on with your comment: ” However, [Barth’s] rejection of natural theology implies rejecting the first two chapters of Romans, which after all, belongs to the Word of God.”
      This, in my opinion, was his great weakness. He muddled it up with his attempt to replace the concept of analogia entis with his christological principle which to many smacked too much of monism to qualify as a reasonable answer. The duality of Creator and creature; however, remains a serious theological as well as metaphysical problem. The Barthian problem seems to be grounded in his understanding of ex nihilo creation, and his desire to keep God in a sovereign aloofness while at the same assuring a meaningful involvement in creation without a restrictive role therein. There is more that needs to be said on this, particularly on the concept of freedom of choice. But, I shall await further comments if there are any. 🙂

    • Lora

      I understand about 85% of what you are saying…LOL

      In their 1934 debate, Brunner also alluded to problems posed by Barth’s rejection of natural theology concerning the issue of ethics and human rights.
      So, yes – freedom of choice (and human responsibility) is definitely an issue.

      When I wrote my master’s theisis on Natural Law and Calvinist political theory in 2002, I wish I would have known about this 1934 debate as I inadvertantly addressed so many of the issues debated by Barth and Brunner.

      Sometimes theologians such as Barth seem to have mental health issues that interfere with their reasoning processes…..IMHO of course…LOL

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      I finished reading what was available of the intro to the von Kirschbaum book that you linked to above, footnotes and all.

      Can you please tell me what about that intro put her relationship with Barth in a better light? It never said that their relationship was sexual, but good grief, does any man and any woman that are not husband and wife have any right whatsoever to live in the kind of relationship that is portrayed in that intro? Can you give me even the tiniest bit of Biblical support for such behavior?

      I truly don’t understand how in the world you can defend them in this.

    • Lora / Cherylu:

      Yes, I too have read the debate between Bath & Brunner myself, I see Barth at least standing on the right side of the issue. But of course its not all that easy, I see Barth seeking to stand against anything that would connect natural man, himself, to any ability before God, I think this was always the issue for Barth! Btw, I to like to read Brunner too, his book: The Mediator, is classic! And btw too, Brunner is a “single” Predestinarian also. So here he is closer to many of the Reformed, on this subject, and of course Barth is not, i.e. classic Reformed on predestination, at all, (single or so-called double predestinarian). In fact Barth’s doctrine of Election really tends toward Universalism! It is a piece of brilliant thinking, but based more on the pure philosophical, than God’s profound revelation! God is NOT a philosophy or philosopher, He surely uses logic but He always transcends it!

      See btw, Stephen Brabill’s book: Rediscovering The Natural Law In Reformed Theological Ethics, (Eerdmans 2006). A must read for today to my mind! He binds natural revelation, theology, and moral law together, as did the Reformers of the magisterial Reformation inherited the natural-law tradition as a noncontroversial legacy of the Reformed tradition. Though of course people like Barth, G.C. Berouwer, Herman Dooyeweerd, and Van Til, did not. Certainty in Reformed Christianity, especially in modern times, so-called, this is an issue of great debate!

    • @cherylu: I am not “defending” Barth and or Kirschbaum, per se. I am just one that does not see this as an outright sexual love affair! If it were, then there would have been plenty of folks who would have called then both out on this, and that is just not the case. Again the ethics in that day were generally much higher than ours today! And when we look at Barth’s own psychology, it was again much more of a Swiss and European Victorian type. We simply cannot press 21st style moral ethics on this! WE have in fact in our time become the greatest hypocrites! Great pious pretenders! Sexual, and otherwise!

    • PS.. Note, I have put up a piece on my own blog (“irishanglican”) from private letters from both Barth and Kirschbaum.

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      From what I understsnd,their relatuionship was considered quite quite the scandal by many. And it tore their families apart. It doesn’t sound to me like it was all so culturally accepted.

      But that is rather beside the point to me. They both claimed to be Christians. Again I ask,where is the Scriptural support for a married man and another woman to live like this? I can see absolutely none whatsoever.

    • cherylu

      Ugh, posted that from my tablet and the edit feature does not work here. What a typo mess.

    • @cherylu: I have Eberhard Busch’s blog site and e-mail (though I would not give the latter on and open blog). You are welcome to chat with him. He is still alive (76). He was of course Barth’s friend and secretary after Kirschbaum’s illness, and later death. As I have shared he has written several Barth Books, and pieces.

      To my mind, both you and Greg are hanging on a bit of “fundamentalism”, rather than accepting the historical here! Note this quite past tense! Btw, how much of Barth have you read? And the said book about “Woman” by Von Kirschbaum?

      *Note as an Anglican priest & presbyter, I hear about sexual sin and problems almost everyday from Christian people! The worst of it, is when I hear people who are hung-up about the sexual problems of others! You might try reading a little Luther on the sexual, he had a most healthy approach! 😉

    • PS…Sorry, sometimes I get sharp on this subject! It gets almost ad nauseam for me! And I am not talking about the serious problems here, but what I consider as just the over scrupulous.

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      I don’t know if the relationship was sexual or not. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

      But is this what it means to love your wife as yourself? Is this what it means to leave your father and mother and cleave only unto your wife?

      From the sounds of things, he did a whole lot of cleaving unto Kirschbaum in the amount of time they spent together, in all of the time they were away from the family home together even living in the same residence and in the way they relied so very heavily on each other and spoke of each other. Those things I just mentioned were all talked about in the link you posted above.

      It did say that he came to value his wife’s companionship more later in life and that she influenced him in other ways.

      Friendships are one thing. Secretaries are one thing. This thing seems something else altogether.

      And still you haven’t given one bit of Biblical support for this. Just cultural and historic arguments.

      What is it that is the controlling factor for a Christian in any point in time–the culture or the Scripture?

      Call me a fundamentalist if you like. If that means going by Biblical standards over cultural ones, that name doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

      Christians after all are to be salt and light. They are not to blend into the culture and be a part of whatever godless moves the culture might be making.

      On the other hand, if you can give me some Biblical support for this whole thing, I will gladly reconsider it.

    • @cherylu: YOUR preaching to the choir here! I know the Bible just a bit, but WE ARE talking about a historical person/persons here! Sure it goes without saying that there was moral failure here, and not just Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirchbaum, but also Nelly Barth, as Barth’s mother! But outright adultery? I just don’t see any proof, thus the culture issues!

    • cherylu

      Well thanks for admitting there was moral failure there! So do we just give them a complete pass on that because it was cultural? I don’t think that should be the case.

      It has to be recognized as such.

    • cherylu

      Now I guess it remains to be asked, how much if any, did living in many years of a relationship of moral failure affect the truthfulness or the quality of the material produced as a direct result of that relationship?

      If the tree is bad, in this case the type of relationship, can we think that the fruit is going to be great? Or may it be that the spiritual fruit brought forth in their work together is tainted too? That is a question that I would be asking in this situation. We are after all spiritual beings. And if we are living in sin is it not the case that that sin is likely going to affect the product of it?

      I think it is a question that needs to be answered.

    • This was generally an early to mid 20th century happening and history, what I can we learn from it now? That is the great question, but also central is both the man and ministry of Karl Barth, as too Charlotte von Kirschbaum’s person and work! The work of both is hardly known with most evangelical Christians today! I have found Barth as accepted as a great theologian by many, but still hardly read by most! Btw, I would surely challenge you as a Christian woman to read Von Kirschbaum’s book on “Woman”!

      And I recognize Christ the Savior of all sinners, Barth’s, Charlotte’s, and ours!

    • Btw, Cherylu, your #221 can only be answered in a REAL reading and study of the work and man Karl Barth! And walk softly in your own mistakes and sins! For we all surely have them!

    • cherylu

      Yep, we all surely have our own sins. The difference is that in whatever way Barth’s affected his work, they are still affecting a large share of the Christian church today. That is where I see the problem.

      And you are right, it IS both their person and work. And it is the “person” part that I am asking questions about at the moment.

      And I think that anyone that is reading and studying Barth needs to be asking questions about too and not acting like this is something that just doesn’t matter because it was cultural or whatever other reason may be given.

      And you know, we are told to be discerning, we are told to be aware of false teachers and prophets, we are told to test the spirits, etc. To not do so is not only disobedient, it is also foolish and dangerous to our spiritual health. Or the health of the greater church depending on the extent of influence involved.

    • @cherylu: Just a point, I might also listen more to you, if and when you can show that you know something of the man & writings of Karl Barth!

    • O how I distain “fundamentalism” and its great hypocrisy! I saw forms of this in Catholic “traditionalism” as raised Irish Roman Catholic. And I see it too in hyper-Calvinism! And too in much of modern Arminianism! Ugh! I will take more of some of todays “Barthian” people (note not really so much Barthianism).

    • Where’s James-the-lesser? 😉

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      For goodness sake, you gave us all that link above evidently expecting us to read it so it would give us a better light on the whole thing.

      Well, the light I got from what you gave me is what I have been specifically speaking of here.

      Do I really have to go out and spend a fortune on a fourteen volume set and spend however long it takes mowing through it to know a problem when I see it? I am not blind you know. And it isn’t like this is the only place I have read about this situation. And even more to the point, you have admitted yourself that there was moral failure.

      So are we all now to just sweep it under the rug and forget all about it and it’s possible implications for what was taught? Is that really what you expect us to do?

      Do you think that James 3:1 has any application here? “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Sure seems to me it does. Doesn’t sound like a free pass situation to me.

      And by the way, thanks for letting us know about your feelings of disdain. I appreciate that! 🙂

    • But what happens when as Jesus says: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.” (Matt. 6: 22-23)

      The question is always, ‘who and what is “in me”, if Christ, then we will have life and light! Actually, the work and ministry of Karl Barth is both “life” and “light”, to good degree! Read Him! 🙂

    • cherylu

      So, if we are in Christ everything we do is automatically light and life even when we are sinning? How can a ministry that had at it’s very basis moral failure for it to take place be classified as light?

    • cherylu

      I think I am bowing out of this conversation before I say something I wish I hadn’t.

    • James-the-lesser

      230. Cherylu:

      Oh, my dear Cherylu, please don’t read the Psalms because most of them were written by an imperfect guy, or Solomon’s collection of proverbs. Or the books of 1 & 2 Peter, or Paul’s works since he admits his imperfections.

      Furthermore, wifely jealousy is understandable, but apparetly she was convinced otherwise since she visited the poor lady in the hospital and went to her funeral (if I am not forsaken). So, what’s the beef? Avoiding the appearance of evil? That’s about the best that can be “proven.” Besides, if an evil man says 2 plus equal 4, why should I disbelieve him just because he is evil?-which, Barth was not in my humble opinion.

      And, oh, by the way. You’re off the hook on taking my opinion on this one since I have an evil thought or two in my day. 🙂

    • All ministry comes from human and sinful vessels… the so-called church fathers, Luther, Calvin, the Wesley brothers, and thus anthropology is thus irreversibly grounded in Christology. This is the hallmark of Barth’s theology! But ya got to put on your thinking cap! And Fundamentalism doesn’t have a thinking cap!

    • @James-the-lesser: You showed-up and righted the ship, mate! The “bow” is clear! Thanks! 😉

    • James-the-lesser

      223. Fr. Robert:

      Hear ye, hear ye. You got that right, mate. 🙂

    • cherylu

      Guys, this is my very personal take on this.

      Of course God works through imperfect people, there are is no other kind.

      However, this man and this woman were living in apparently unrepentant sin/moral failure for 35 years. Does this say anything about their discernment and their committment to living according to the Lord’s will? Does it say anything about their discernment as to what is right and wrong, what is important and what is not? If they have no more discernment then that about such things, why should I be sure they had a whole lot of discernment in what they were writing in their “Dogmatics?” I don’t.

      If I personally had a pastor or other spiritual leader that I knew was living such a life style, there would be no way I could feel safe in entrusting myself to that leadership. As a matter of fact, I would run from that ministry very quickly. Is it really all that different when it comes to someone that sets out to teach the church through huge volumes of written work? Poor Christian character does steal credibility from a teacher or pastor. I just don’t see myself how the two can be completely divorced from each other.

    • @Cherylu: Spoken like a good “fundamentalist”, as your mate Greg. Things are just, moral, simple and thus black and white, good verses evil, and thus biblical Fundamentalism. But what about the American Civil War, North verses South, both worshiping the same Christian God. Note we Brits we able to not have a civil war over slavery, but we did have one over the so-called King. Of course the American Civil War was fought over more than just slavery. We should note that Transcendentalism, as Unitarianism, came from the American East. The American South, even somewhat today, was the Bible-belt!

      Btw, Karl Barth was no “fundamentalist”, or mere piety seeking perfection. He sought the Gospel of the Grace of God In Christ! As Luther, as Calvin.. as all the top-tier Reformers!

      In the end, Judeo-Christianity is not about just moral ethics, but most assuredly the redemption of sinners! But, indeed no antinomianism, the loss of the moral law. But surely we never keep it in outright perfect obedience, but under the Grace of God!

    • cherylu

      I’m sorry, Fr Robert, but you seem to be totally missing the point.

      Certainly God works through bad situations and imperfect people. Again I am not denying that.

      But neither am I denying that teachers are held to a stricter standard according to His Word.

      And just because He can work through imperfect situations it doesn’t always mean that when we see an imperfect situation that He is using that situation to bring forth great truth to his church.

      But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. II Timothy 2:19-22

    • @cherylu: No, I am not missing your point at all, but you are seeking to judge and micro-manage the life and ministry of a man and his personal secretary who died over 45 years ago (38 to be exact for Charlotte), and who in their lives together produced together one of the greatest Theological pieces of work (the Christian Dogmatics) the Church has seen in the 20th century! The list of people and students the CD has effected is beyond what we could list here certainly! If they were brought here, you would I hope be quite dumbfounded! But that is another question and reality. And I, as I have said over and over, am not really a complete Barth fan theologically, but his genius is/was most certain, and I count him as a 20th century church father! Thanks be to God we have his written ministry! But, again this great “fundamentalist” mentality and judgment you and others are using surely comes up short!

    • Btw, here’s a great quote, and closer to the ministry of Barth’s doctrine of God’s great Transcendence!

      “We should diligently remind young people to differentiate God from all other things, that from the start they may realize that God is an omnipotent, eternal being, the fullness of wisdom, righteousness, goodness, truth, and purity, and that all other things–heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, and men–are created things, are not omnipotent and are not to be invoked. … God is not a physical being, as heaven and earth and other elements are; on the contrary, he is a spiritual being, omnipotent and eternal, unmeasureable in wisdom, goodness, and righteousness, one who is true, pure, independent, and merciful. This is God, the eternal Father, and the Son, the Father’s image, and the Holy Spirit, which three persons created heaven and earth, and all other creatures. And God graciously revealed himself through the proclamation of the law and gospel, and with definitive miracles. Thus God has attested who is the true God, how he wishes to be acknowledged and honored, and that according to his gospel he will gather to himself among men an eternal Church, and bless it according to his promises.” (Melanchthon: Of God, Loci Communes (1555))

    • cherylu

      I hardly call having concern for a 35 year flagrant, in your face, upset your family, bring charges of scandal down on your heads situation, “attempting to micromanage.” That is a very bizarre accusation to say the least.

      Have you by any chance thought about the implications of I John 3 in this situation? I am speaking specifically of the first ten verses. Here are a part of them:

      …..we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. I John 3:2-4

      No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
      verse 6

      No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. verses 9-10

      Pretty hefty words aren’t they? And ones we all need to take a look at and measure ourselves by. And obviously John doesn’t mean we will absolutely stop sinning either. The first chapter makes that clear.

      However, does not a 35 year long deliberate and unrepentant moral failure come under the heading of “making a practice of sinning?” It would certainly seem so to me.

      What implication does that leave a person with in this situation?

      And I am now preparing myself for the verbal onslaught that bringing that whole Scripture into the picture is likely to bring forth.

    • And btw, even at my age I have to make theological and spiritual, moral adjustments. This is simply the way of the real Christian life! Indeed my “neo-Calvinism” is subject here too! Both Hyper-Calvinism, and certainly liberal & modern fundamentalist Arminianism are close to “Anathema” to my mind, and boy howdy how this “issue” has reminded me here!

    • There is not much else I can say, that can dent this ‘fundamentalist – self righteousness’! Once again, we are at spiritual and hermeneutical odds! But may God forgive this spirit, and give a personal conviction and renewed spiritual repentance. Btw, again, God alone is the “minister” of His own chastening (Heb. 12: 5-11). May we all walk very softly here!

    • cherylu

      You are right, there is not much more for me to say either. We are obviously living in two totally different worlds even if we both name the name of Christ.

    • Yes Amen! We get to lay it out, all of it, at the Bema-Seat of Christ! 😉

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