The American Reformation

In much of what passes for Christianity in the west, a reformation of sorts has taken place. It is not as easy to put a date on or identify as the protestant reformation, but it’s results are easily seen, including it’s own set of solas to mark it. Unlike the prostestant reformation, the lasting effects of this will not be reform and leading people to the faith, but rather it will result in precisely what we are seeing and result in an increasing amount of conflict and lead away from the faith. I would like to explore these new solas, and comment briefly.
  1. Sola Sententia (opinion alone). This is the easiest to identify sola of the new reformation. The opinion has been elevated above all else. It matters not what others think, but only what you do. It matters not what the church thinks, but only what you do. Everything becomes personal opinion and personal theology. Even if I, for example, were to defend the theology of the church, it is not seen as the theology of the church, but my opinion, my interpretation, my belief. The church, and Christ as her head, has been relegated to a personal opinion instead of an authority.
  2. Sola Motus (emotion alone). How we feel about something has become not only the defining characteristic that spurs us to action, but the defining characteristic of who we are. Feeling has become the highest truth. There is simply no rational truth, only emotion. Should someone try to present rational truth and/or facts, it is met with emotion. Don’t believe in universal healthcare? Obviously you hate the poor and want them to die. Before you laugh, I have been told this. This is not a random example, but a thing that I have heard over and over again. The highest sin has become offending someone’s delicate sensibilities.
  3. Sola Actum (action alone). This is one of the more insidious ones because it uses the language and promise of the church, but twists it into a tool of the adversary. We all talk about grace and ever say the right things, but the new reformation has twisted grace to only apply to those who do the “right things”, vote the “right way”, attend the “right protests”, and support the “right political causes”. Don’t fully support this or that political action group? Obviously that is a sign that the grace of God is not upon you. You end up accused of not having love, or of not having fruit, but those accusations of course rely on sola sententia thinking, so they are self fulfilling. Works are taken from being the evidence of grace, and used a s a necessity for grace, and of course they must be the right works.
  4. Sola Calumnoir (slander alone). Those who do not think as we do become enemies who must be discredited at every turn.  This becomes confusing because those who do this most often claim to stand for the freedom to be different. What they mean is that you can be different so long as it’s different like them.
  5. Sola Contextus (context alone). The worst of all the solas, and the one that binds them all together. Everything is ok so long as you do not claim that it is an objective truth. Such a thing doesn’t exist in the new reformation. It’s all context after all. What is sin? Depends on your context, if there is sin at all. What is holy living? Depends upon your context. What is right and wrong? Depends upon your context. Nothing is objective and absolute, and everything is a matter of context.
  6. Sola Cultura (culture alone). The church needs to be relevant! More destructive words have never been spoken. The meaning here is that the church needs to be relevant to the world, but that is not at all the case. The church needs to be relevant to the kingdom of God, and that kingdom, which will come in it’s fullness, does not resemble the kingdoms of the Earth. The church frankly shouldn’t be relevant. This sola however has had it’s effect as most can not tell the difference between the church and the world anymore.
  7. Sola Illustratio (enlightenment alone). Listen, a lot of good came from the enlightenment. Liberal theology was not one of those things. Said theology would have us look at ancient texts through modern eyes in the quest for truth. Said theology would have us reinterpret and change the faith once and for all delivered over and over again so that it reflects our world and our words, rather than reflecting the Kingdom of God and the Word, as well as the word,  of God. It would point us forward looking for answers when faith calls us to the past for our answers.
  8. Sola Rei Publicae (politics alone). The faith has become so intertwined with politics, even to the point that those who want faith out of politics cite the same faith to justify their politics. Such a faith looks to the powers of the Earth for answers rather than to the power of God, and His vessel, the church, for answers. Such a sola is dangerous at best, and blasphemous at worst.
  9. Sola Scientia (science alone). We demand that our faith make sense. No virgin birth because that is not possible. The sun did not stand still, the plagues upon Egypt were natural happenings, the resurrection is a beautiful story, but certainly not a literal bodily resurrection from the dead, and there are no miracles. Few of us might say these things out loud, but how many of us believe them? We say that we believe in miracles, but we don’t really think that they will happen. We say that we believe in the resurrection of the body, but secretly suspect it is something different, if we give it a thought at all. We have castrated the power of God by demanding that science answer our questions and provide our explanations instead of relying upon faith. Don’t get me wrong, I love science and find it fascinating, but it can not, and does not, answer the questions of faith. They are after all the mysteries of faith, not science.
  10. Sola Novus (the new alone). The ancient has no value. We know much better now. We are smarter, more mature, wiser, etc. All things new must be embraced and adored, and all things ancient must be put away as it does not apply now.

There are likely more things that can be thrown in here, but I think I will end my list of new solas here. The sad reality is that in America, and in much of the western world, our hubris has formed our faith rather than God through Christ. We have reshaped Christianity into something that the early fathers would have not only rejected, but written soundly against. The faith that we demonstrate in the western world rarely resembles the faith of the early fathers. Such a faith puts us all on dangerous ground. The ancient shows us the way, not the new. The new reformation and it’s solas is the wide way and not the narrow one we are to follow. I pray we all realize this before it is to late.

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