s I look at the current scene, I see a church in desperate need of three great movements of God:
A recovery of the life of the mind. An increasingly illiterate generation is harder to reach with a faith founded on the message of a Book; an increasingly illiterate church is incapable of experiencing full-orbed Christianity based on the whole counsel of God revealed in the Text of that Book. Electronic inundation keeps us perpetually distracted. From a cultural (rather than a technological) standpoint, we may well be entering a new Dark Ages. The original rebirth of learning and culture that we call the Renaissance started with a recovery of interest in reading classical literature in the original languages using grammatico-historical exegesis to recover its original message to its original audience. God used that movement with its motto of ad fontes, “back to the sources,” to make the Reformation, the recovery of the pristine Gospel of the New Testament, possible. If history repeats itself, a new Renaissance just might lead to a new . . .
Francis Schaeffer tried to start an Evangelical Renaissance.
A recovery of sound doctrine. When the new learning of the Renaissance, the ad fontes tradition, was applied to Scripture, the original documents were enabled to speak again with their own voice. This led to a recovery of sound doctrine in five areas: Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone is the only infallible and inerrant authority and final court of appeal; Sola Gratia, salvation is by grace, God’s unmerited favor, alone, apart from works; Sola Fide, salvation is received by the empty hands of faith alone; Solus Christus, Christ alone is the only Mediator between God and men; Soli Deo Gloria, God’s glory alone is the end of salvation and the purpose of all of life. All these truths are in danger of being lost again. We therefore need a new Renaissance leading to a new Reformation. Otherwise, we will continue to gorge ourselves on spiritual junk food while the great truths of the faith slip through our fingers. But if God would grant us Renaissance and Reformation again, they just might lead to . . .
Martin Luther, a man of the Reformation
A recovery of vital spirituality. The great error of our generation is to believe that this recovery is possible apart from the first two. Biblically and historically, it is not. Martin Luther recognized the debt the Reformation owed to the Renaissance: “Whenever God wants to break forth truth anew out of His Word, he prepares the way by the rise of languages and letters, as if they were John the Baptists.” And if Christianity is true, then only the faithful preaching of the pure Gospel of the New Testament can give us the genuine spirituality and real Christian lives that Revival is all about. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Without Renaissance and Reformation, all our zeal for Revival is vanity and striving after wind. Do not stop praying and working for Revival. But do start praying and working for the Renaissance and Reformation without which no true revival with lasting impact is possible.
John Wesley here represents Revival.
I am here to sound the call for these three great movements of God again in our generation and to encourage and support those working for them. Please join me! Ad fontes! Soli Deo gloria!
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About The Author
Donald T. Williams (BA Taylor University, MDiv Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, PhD University of Georgia) is R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in the Hills of NE Georgia. A dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth, he is a border dweller, permanently camped out on the borders between serious scholarship and pastoral ministry, theology and literature, preaching and teaching, Christianity and culture. He is best known as an Inklings scholar and Christian apologist. He is the author of nine books and many articles and would love to come to your church or school to preach or conduct an apologetics or Inklings seminar. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.