The Reformers and their Stepchildren
This book studied little-known church history to come to a very basic question: how to keep the church "in the world but not of the world" without going to extremes. On one hand Christianity becomes so "involved" that it loses its identity, and on the other hand it becomes so separate that it loses its relevance. The state/church is on one end and the Amish, for example, are on the other. But by studying the sequence of events we can understand why various views developed and how we have misunderstood both the views and their proponents. And then we are better equipped to see more such extremes to come. The state/church has never really gone away but has been largely dormant in the west, and it is no coincidence that it is the west where prosperity has been enjoyed by the most people for the longest time.
But now it is beginning to rise again with great deception. "Unity" or "peace at any price" is the chant being heard from all quarters, religious and secular. In an evil twist on the "heretics'" separation between the Old and New Testaments, doctrine is seen as a regrettable byproduct of a barbaric age and is to be discarded in favor of a false, outward unity. The American Constitution has come under attack as not permitting all religions, but forbidding all religions. At the same time, and on a global scale, only certain approved philosophies (such as evolution) are given the light of day, and woe to any who deviate. But as it was in the days of the Reformation, these are opposite reactions to other extremes, not the least of which has been the longstanding attempt to install "Christianity" as the state religion once again.
In light of that, it is most curious to observe the relative passivity coming from Christendom over the onslaught of Islam, the ultimate state/religion. Could it be that even the most vile false religion is to be preferred over the true gospel, just because it melds with the state? Have we been betrayed once again by our leadership, who in a desperate bid to keep their place has made a pact with the devil? Will we stand and bleat like sheep as "Christian" celebrities destroy doctrinal essentials while demanding everyone unify over a vague concept of "love"?
Are we to take what we've learned in all this— that "church membership", altars, clergy, sanctioned weddings and baptisms, etc. are all part and parcel of the fake, institutional church— and hide it "because the world (or the church) is not ready" to hear it? How many Christians can stomach leaving all this? They, like the Reformers, call us names, accuse us of impure or selfish motives, and consider themselves the upholders of all that is truly Christian and spiritual. They ruin lives in many cases, and gladly team up with secular authority when it suits them. The cost is high enough, but of course not as high as that paid by the "heretics". Will we pay it, or shrink back?