The World Cup is over. Germany, the host country, and Switzerland, whose national team played against Korea, both played important roles in the history of the Christian church. Germany, the birthplace of Martin Luther, led Reformation in the 16th century. Switzerland was the home country of Zwingli, another major leader in Reformation, and was the model country where Calvin experimented with a theocratic society. These two counties stand out in history for saving Christianity from total religious corruption by playing major roles in Reformation.
However, if you visit these two countries now you may not realize their glorious past. A Church History professor at my seminary told a story about a visit to Worm, the German city where Martin Luther, when forced to recant his beliefs, uttered the famous words in the presence of the Emperor: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.” The professor asked a local resident for directions to the cathedral where Luther made this famous statement. The person didn’t know. The professor later found out that the location was only 300 yards away.
I had a brief layover at a German airport on my recent mission trip to Kazakhstan. The smoke-filled airport lounge and drunken, kissing lovers gave the impression that the country and its citizens were in moral decay. Seeing a once proud Christian nation fall to such depths made me sad, almost to the point of tears.
Churches in Europe are empty, their buildings used primarily for wedding ceremonies. How did European churches, once the citadel of Christianity, lose their power? The major reason is their acceptance of liberal theology. Liberal theologians analyzed the Bible with techniques like Textual Criticism and Form Criticism. They concluded that the Bible was just a human book, edited and organized by a person using many different sources. Seminary students were educated and ordained as pastors under this system. We can easily guess the effect produced by the preaching and teaching of such pastors. It led people to lose faith. The Bible is powerful because it is the Word of God. When you deny that, your faith goes as well.
Liberal theologians reached the wrong conclusions because they didn’t understand the customs and thinking of Middle Easterners. Recent discoveries from archaeological excavations and careful study contradict their assumptions and conclusions.
The basis of our faith is the Bible. When you lose faith in the Bible, your personal faith goes with it. You must have confidence in the reliability of the Bible. You can get this conviction by reading the Bible itself. New Christians should spend much time reading the Bible in the order suggested at the meeting when they accepted Jesus. I strongly urge them to read the New Testament through a couple of times, and then read the entire Bible. When they do that, they will see the unity of Scripture and cannot help but conclude that the Bible was not written by mere human beings but by one author – God. We need to read the Bible to make our faith grow.
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