In the seminar last Saturday, we applauded the undivided church of the first several centuries for giving us the “rule of faith” expressed in the Apostles Creed, as well as the New Testament canon itself. We must struggle, as the early catholic church did, to balance “identity” (how the church is different from the world) alongside “universality” (how to make the church at home in every culture). We can learn from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox to stand in awe at God’s transcendent mystery, the value of spiritual disciplines, and (from the Western side) to appreciate Mary as a model of faith more than most of us Protestants ever have.
All Christians need Luther’s four gospel slogans (solely grace, solely faith, solely Christ, solely Scripture), as well as Calvin’s persistent emphasis that we give God all the glory for our salvation. The Anabaptists teach us the difference between citizenship in a secular state and the kingdom of God. We must personally choose to follow Jesus as Lord and Master. The Anglicans gave us the English Bible and the treasure-chest of the Book of Common Prayer — a worship repository with which most Protestants are sadly unfamiliar, yet full of gems waiting to be discovered.
The Methodist movement took the gospel out of the church into the marketplace and fields where the people were, and taught the importance of a “heart-felt religion.” The Holiness revival reminded us of God’s purpose to transform us into Christ’s likeness. The Pentecostals correctly understood that we need heavenly power for earthly service. The charismatic renewal was right that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that the God who is most high is also most nigh.
The Adventist revival changed Christendom by its teaching that Jesus indeed can come at any moment — and today other Christians are learning its truth of conditional immortality as well. The Campbell-Stone Restoration Movement cast a vision for Christian unity which would enrich the larger Church, and its formal insistence on following Scripture rather than human creeds and traditions still challenges every believer I have known or encountered, both inside the RM and without.
The point is not who said it first, but where they got it. If it came from God, it’s for all his people. I want all the truth — and I want to share all that I might have found.