Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Fourth Reformation Revisted

Last week, I posted a column (SEE BELOW) on what I call the Fourth Reformation. To summarize:

The First Reformation was the one of Calvin and Luther.

The Second Reformation was the pietist/puritan reformation (Baptists orginated out of this Reformation). It also saw the beginnings of the modern missions movement.

The Third Reformation was the early to mid 20th century evangelical/pentacostal resurgance.

The Fourth Reformation is NOW, the post-denominational, post-institutional church.

Well, did I get a cyber ear-full.

First, thanks to Dennis McFadden for posting the whole column on Between the comments he got and the ones emailed to me, here's the reaction:

Either you are a jaded, burned-out dimbulb. Or, you are a prophet, blessed be the name of the Lord.

For the record, I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I am, however, very mindful of the history of renewal (I studied under Richard Lovelace at Gordon-Conwell), and I know that something is up, something big, and something that I may never fully "get" in my limited lifetime.

Let me reccomend two good books: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal and Revolution by George Barna. (Between the two, McNeal's is better. I think the wheels come off some of Barna's observations. But then I may just be a counter-revolutionary.)

The thrust of both (and again, McNeal is better, more biblical and more hopeful) is that North American "church culture" is just about gone. We have to de-church the church to find the real church. (That's my phrase. If you use it, at least give me credit.)

It is much easier to apply adjectives to the Fourth Reformation than nouns: missional, relational, international, post-modern, and post-denominational.

The implosion of the ABCUSA is an early indicator--a canary in the mine--of the scope of the 4th Ref. Our non-connectional polity means we actually have the possibility of catching the wave early on. The era of the big bureaucratic church organization is lurching to an end. Just ask anybody at Valley Forge. Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

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