A new monthly column by Colonel Richard Munn
“It is the dogma that is the drama” […] “set it on an open stage to startle the world.”— Dorothy Sayers, Anglican novelist
This monthly column will seek to set on the SAConnects stage the drama of doctrine that exerts influence on our thinking, and on the script of ethics that governs our behavior.
Somewhat akin to the wedding guests at Cana sampling the water turned into wine, we might just be startled in the process.
We’ll aim to reinforce the tried and trusted doctrines and also review the provocative. We’ll mix Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Catherine Booth with Rob Bell, Richard Dawkins, and Oprah Winfrey, and see what emerges.
We may not always come to a neat, hermetically tight conclusion, but we can be confident we’ll be asking the important questions.
Five times Paul uses the word doctrine in his New Testament writings; four of those times he exhorts us to “sound doctrine.” So, this is important—the foundation may not be as artistic as the gilded window dressing—but without it, the house comes tumbling down.
Let’s silence our cell phones, sit back and relax—“Sound Doctrine” may just unfold great drama. “Lights, camera—action.”
Next year, 2017, will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, recalling that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the front door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, rebutting the established Catholic Church.
This symbolic act, prompted by wide- ranging religious institutional corruption, proved to be the catalyst for what came to be known as Protestantism. It exerted revolutionary change on the cultural, political, and religious landscape.
Evolving over subsequent years, the basic tenets of Protestantism emphasize
- The capacity for individuals to receive grace directly from Christ.
- Salvation by grace through faith alone.
- The supremacy of the scriptures.
In so doing, the movement rejected priestly mediation, church tradition, and Papal authority.
These values are often referenced as the ‘Solae’
- Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
- Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
- Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
- Sola Scriptura (Scriptures Alone)
Some quite beautiful Protestant outcomes would include the conviction that each believer should possess and read for themselves scriptures written in the common language and that preaching should be a primary component of worship. This resulted in reduced church ritual and a distinctly versatile expression of the Christian faith, quickly becoming a global missional movement.
Protestantism has now multiplied into many expressions that defy reduction to a simple scheme.
Salvationists are Protestants. So, what better way to celebrate our 500th birthday than by treasuring the reading and preaching of the word, and by receiving and sharing the good news of salvation?
Soli deo Gloria! (Glory to God alone!)
— Colonel Richard Munn is the Territorial Secretary for Theology and Christian Ethics