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New Horizons

October, 2006: Reformation Then and Now

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Reformation—Then and Now

"It may be safe to say that the greatest event for Christendom in the last 1500 years was the Protestant Reformation."[1] Professor John Murray spoke these words in his class lectures on justification in the mid-1960s.

At that time, forty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine anyone in a Reformed or evangelical church finding much that was exceptional about Murray's words. But today, in a world that would amaze him, the central doctrines of the Reformation are under attack, not only in liberal and ecumenical circles, but in the heart of evangelical and Reformed churches. Read more

The Reformation—Is It Over?

People are often surprised to learn that one of my degrees is a master of arts in theology from a Roman Catholic institution, Duquesne University. When asked why I pursued this degree, I explain that I wanted to learn about contemporary Catholicism to help those interested in coming from it to the Reformed faith.

It was with great interest (and some surprise), then, that I read Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom's award-winning book, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. Noll and Nystrom argue that a new day has dawned in the relationship between Roman Catholics and evangelicals. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) changed the tone of Roman Catholics toward Protestants and paved the way for dialogue on the issues that led to the Reformation. So dramatic has been the change in Catholicism that one can ask whether the Reformation is over. Noll and Nystrom seek to answer that question by examining the current Catholic stance (and evangelical response) on the two basic principles of the Reformation. But their presentation of Roman Catholic teaching is quite different from what I learned at Duquesne. Read more

Roman Catholicism and Liberty

A funny thing happened on the way to the twenty-first century. Roman Catholics went from being the most un-American Christians in the United States to one of the nation's most supportive religious groups.

Only four decades ago, John F. Kennedy, while running for President, had to explain to Protestants that he would not put his allegiance to the Pope above his vow to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Today, conservative Protestants not only see nothing wrong with, but take encouragement from, Roman Catholics providing the most conservative interpretations of the Constitution as justices on the Supreme Court. The reversal of American Protestant attitudes toward Roman Catholics during the second half of the twentieth century was truly remarkable. Read more

Mountain Religion (Part 1)

[Note: John Belden lives in Neon, Kentucky, where he is the pastor of Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church (OPC). The town of Neon is nestled in the mountains of Appalachia. The city once served the needs of several surrounding coal camps. But when the mines began to close, the town and the whole surrounding region were plunged into poverty and welfare. John first came to Neon in the mid-1990s to help build low-income housing. He received his divinity degree from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He has been serving as pastor to CRPC since 2001. This mission work has purchased a vacant building in downtown Neon and is reconstructing it for worship and other ministry.]

I first came to Neon in 1993 as a carpenter to work with a local housing ministry. Over the years, I shared the gospel with many people in the mountains of Appalachia. I generally encountered respect for the Bible as God's word. There even seemed to be a genuine interest in its truth. Yet no one appeared to embrace the message. Read more

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