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New Horizons

October, 2001: God's Truth Abideth Still

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Reformation in the Fourth Century

Arius against Alexander

All of the people who lived in Alexandria recognized the tall, thin figure of Arius as he strode by. Although he was a pastor in the city, he dressed more in the manner of a hermit, wearing just a simple, short tunic with a scarf to serve as cloak. The reason for his fame, however, was not his manner of life. It was his teaching. Everyone was talking about the strange new ideas that he so forcefully set forth. Only the Father is truly God, he said. Jesus Christ is merely the first of the created beings. Christ lived before the creation of the world and was himself active in creation, but he nevertheless had a beginning. He is the perfect image of the Father, but is not of the same essence, and therefore can be called "God" only in a secondary sense. Read more

Reformation in the Sixteenth Century

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. That launched the Protestant Reformation—a massive return to the Bible and its teachings in much of Europe. Luther called upon the church to respond in faith to the clarification of the gospel by accepting salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as taught by the Bible alone, all for the glory of God alone.

To be sure, in 1517 Luther did not publicly espouse the full-blown Protestant doctrine of justification. But soon thereafter he did make it clear that the doctrine of justification through faith alone, apart from works, was "the article upon which the church stands or falls." Read more

Reformation Needed Today

For years I have spoken about what I consider to be the worldliness of the liberal churches, accusing them of four things: pursuing the world's wisdom, embracing the world's theology, following the world's agenda, and employing the world's methods. What has hit me like a thunderbolt in recent years is that what I had been saying about the liberal churches at the end of the 1960s and in the 1970s now needs to be said about the evangelical churches as well, since many of them have become as liberal as the larger mainline denominations before them.

Well over a decade ago, Professor Martin Marty, always a shrewd observer of the American church, said in a magazine interview that, in his judgment, evangelicals would be "the most worldly people in America" by the end of the century. Marty's observations are not always right, in my opinion, but in this case he was on target. Evangelicals have embraced worldliness in the same ways that it was embraced by the liberal churches. Like those liberals of past years, evangelicals today:

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Reformed or Reforming?

Which is it—reformed or reforming? The church is at its best when it is both. At this time in our short history, we in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church need to take stock of our church. I am told that we are the fastest growing Reformed church in North America. Why? One reason is that "Reformed" communicates that there is something fixed and unchanging about who we are because we serve a God who has given us his infallible, sufficient Word. "Reforming," on the other hand, suggests that we recognize that we are fallible in interpreting that Word. We are ever in need of renewing, reevaluating, and deepening our knowledge of Scripture. As children of the Reformation, then, we must ever be both reformed and reforming.

The Task of Each Generation

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