Apostolic Reformation

Fundamentalist evangelical Protestant Christians are in need of a new reformation, a modern reformation, an Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) to take them back to true apostolic Christianity.

In opposing Catholic abuses of the day, the Protestant Reformers of the 1500's took away too much and added too much, and they ignored early church history and the traditions of the eastern Orthodox churches. In attempting to restore true apostolic Christianity they instead created a Bible-based form of Christianity which had never actually existed — by the time the Bible was in existence the church was already Catholic.

The one true church is the church founded by Jesus through his apostles. In claiming that the Bible is the only authority, Protestants ignore other aspects of the teachings and practice of the apostles and of the early churches they founded. For centuries these churches did not have the Bible to guide them, yet it was during these pre-Bible years that Christianity was formed.

Protestants need an Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) that takes them back to the Christianity of the apostolic era.



Quite by accident I named my new movement the "Apostolic Reformation" and began calling for Christians to consider my unique views. Later I learned of a movement named the "New Apostolic Reformation"; my views have nothing in common with those. To be clear, I reject the following...

  1. New Apostolic Reformation
  2. Emerging / emergent church
  3. Seeker-sensitive churches
  4. Mega-churches
  5. Liberal Christianity

The Bible

Christians are certainly blessed to have the Bible. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. Certainly God would not want us to give up the Bible just so we can be like the early church which didn't have the Bible either.

Perhaps the Bible is all that is needed for a person's salvation. If someone with no knowledge of Christianity were stranded on a desert island with nothing but a Gideon's Bible, perhaps it would result in their conversion. But they would be unable to derive Christianity as it came to be under the guiding direction of the apostles.

As demonstrated by history, the Bible was not all that was needed to form the church and establish Christian doctrine. Both heretics and orthodox supported their views from books and letters which became the Bible. The early heresies (and these were severe) were opposed by orthodox church leaders: by bishops, priests, deacons, and others. These voices from the past are to be our authority today. They formed our understanding of true Christianity and their views help us even today to interpret the Bible correctly.

The Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) recognizes the spiritual authority of these orthodox heroes of the faith.


The Protestant Reformation

In Europe in the early 1500's (and even before that) courageous men of God stood up against abuses of the church. This movement is today called the Protestant Reformation, but it was no mere reform movement; rather, it was a revolutionary change of church structure and of doctrine. The many varieties of modern Protestant churches are based on these new doctrines (although some fundamentalist evangelical churches out of ignorance prefer to deny their roots).

The Protestant Reformation changed the foundational ideas about the church and about church authority. Various views of the source of teaching authority:

  1. Catholic — the bishops and popes have apostolic authority.
  2. Orthodox — the first seven ecumenical councils are the authority.
  3. Protestant — the Bible is the authority.
  4. My view — apostolic teaching is the authority.

For fundamentalist evangelical Protestant Christians I am outlining the framework for a new reformation, an Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) in which authority comes from the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the very early church (which followed the teachings of the apostles). The New Testament is a key component of this because the apostles wrote it.


Key Ingredients

The following are the key ingredients of the Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church):

  1. Orthodox doctrine in these topics: God the creator, the Trinity, man's sin and our need for redemption, the Incarnation, Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross, his bodily resurrection and ascension, final judgment, eternity in heaven (the new heavens and new earth)or in hell.These doctrines have been firmly established since the time of Augustine.
  2. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God (but it is not the only authority). Not every topic is addressed in the Bible. The Bible must be interpreted correctly (even the heretics used the Bible to support their views).
  3. The early church leaders fought heresy. Their conclusions are trustworthy.
  4. The Eucharist is not just a symbol. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. The Eucharist should be included regularly in church worship.
  5. Church leaders should be holy and orthodox.
  6. Baptism is not merely an act of obedience. Grace is transmitted during baptism.
  7. The local church should be allowed to choose its leaders.
  8. Ordination does not require apostolic succession. Anyone who is qualified to pastor a flock and who has orthodox views can be ordained. Ordination is merely the public acknowledgment by other church leaders that the person is truly a church leader.
  9. No division of Christians into clergy and laity. No priesthood.
  10. The church is apolitical; it should not be a state in its own right. Of necessity it must participate in politics — groups of people require leaders and governance. It should take actions to survive during persecution.
  11. Must allow for various views in the non-essentials: such topics as eschatology, global vs. local flood, old-earth vs. young earth, purgatory, Saints in heaven, Mary, icons and statues.
  12. The faith of Christians should be lively. A strong emphasis on relationship with Jesus. Prayer and devotions.
  13. Support of house churches.

Kinds of Christianity

There are many kinds of Christian churches. The main groups:

In these articles (see menu sidebar to the left) I am ignoring Liberal Christianity because I reject their theology and views. Typical false beliefs:

I reject the word-faith / health-wealth gospel. Typical beliefs:


Leadership

Any group of people (even two people) must have leadership. There are various kinds of leadership models for larger groups. Even whole countries have various kinds of leadership / governance models (for example: democratic, autocratic, socialistic).

The church fairly early adopted a hierarchical model of bishop, presbyter (priest), and deacon. Later, several bishops of the larger cities became patriarchs. The Roman bishop began to claim the supremacy of the Roman bishop.

This model seems as good as any other but, unfortunately, there were various bad side-effects:

The Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) should allow for various kinds of church governance. Some examples of church governance models:


Unity

This Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church) is not an attempt to promote or provide church unity. Catholics and Orthodox will surely consider it to be merely another variation of Protestantism. Protestants will likely consider it to be heretical since it rejects some key Protestant doctrines.

The church will only finally be institutionally united when everyone converts to Catholicism; or Orthodoxy; or Protestantism (I doubt this will ever occur.) The only kind of unity all Christians can have today is a mutual joining as the mystical body of Christ. The Catholic Church considers Protestants to be imperfectly united to the Catholic Church but naturally, Protestants don't find much comfort in this. As members of the body of Christ all true Christians are truly united; but we often don't realize it because we are too busy arguing about our different views.


What Drives Me

From my web site www.northforest.org I get emails from many people who are stuck between paradigms: they are half-Catholic and half-Protestant; or they can't find a church with deep, thoughtful, Bible-based preaching (they only hear topics of social relevance, self-help, self-esteem, "blue ducks", or uneducated surfer drawl); or they are annoyed with the strong emphasis on becoming a member; or they must keep their unusual views to themselves or be ostracized; or the churches insist they send their kids to youth group where they will be corrupted by the materialistic emphasis; or various other complaints.

My hope is that some will form new churches and denominations based on the pattern of the Apostolic Reformation of the Church (the One Apostolic Church).