Pride, Part 63

The Reformation brought back a true theocentric theology and practice of Christianity from the man-centered ways of Rome. It was not just a Reformation of theology and morality; it was God bringing Himself to the center. Today certain aspects of the theology of the Reformers some forms of morality are being revived, but we will not be like the Reformers unless our pride is repented of and God is the true center of it all. The real issue of the Reformation was God Himself and how He was to be the core and center of all things. It was not just that He was to be focused on, but all things were to come from Him and the glory of His grace. One can have the academic theology of Luther or Calvin and still be full of pride and not know the God that Luther and Calvin knew. Our day must see its pride in its theology and in the churches in order to be on our faces before God. Being on our faces will earn nothing before God if we just drop down and do it, but it is where we belong as sinners before a holy, holy, holy God. Even the angelic beings who have never sinned shield their eyes before the glory of God. Yet in our day we think we can pal around with God. This demonstrates nothing but pride and blindness to spiritual things.

“In Luther, the theocentricity of primitive Christianity returns; and it is the determining factor of his whole outlook. His opposition to Catholicism is due ultimately to nothing else but this. In the Catholic conception of Christianity, it is in the last analysis man who occupies the centre of the religious stage; in Luther’s reforming conception it is God. Luther seeks to eradicate every vestige of the egocentric or anthropocentric tendency from the religious relationship. There is no place for the slightest degree of human self-assertion in the presence of God. Here, man must be content to receive undeserved the gifts God wills to bestow on him, and to obey without thought of reward the commandments God pleases to give him. In other words, he must let God really be God, the center around which his whole existence moves. This theocentric emphasis can be described as the fundamental motif of Luther’s entire thought.” (Let God Be God! An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther)

We have looked at, though not at length, how Luther’s opposition to Catholicism was due to its man-centeredness. Luther’s magnum opus was his volume on The Bondage of the Will. He was very clear in that work that justification by faith alone needed to be explained in order for the Gospel to be by grace alone. He was also very clear by what he said and the way he went about it that he was defending the Gospel because the Gospel was of God. Luther was so concerned about the Gospel because in it the glory of God is seen in saving sinners. He defended Scripture alone because it was the words of God. Luther did no just oppose Catholicism because he was an academic who disagreed with them, but he disagreed with them because Catholicism was man-centered in all that they did versus Scripture which set things out as God-centered.

Has Catholicism changed? Not really, but Protestants have changed. The Confessions and Creeds are the same for the most part for Protestants, but the more man-centered Protestants have gotten the less they have disagreed with Rome. Many adherents of Reformed theology have never discovered the real and driving truth of Reformed theology which is that God Himself is the center of it all. It is not enough to know a few doctrines in the head, but one must have the glory of God in the heart as the chief love. It is easy enough for a proud heart to learn some knowledge of the Scriptures and know a few doctrines. It is easy because it is easy on the pride to do so. Knowledge makes arrogant (I Corinthians 8:1) and so proud hearts are not disturbed but are encouraged to grow in their pride if all they are gaining is knowledge. The Pharisees and the Scribes knew a lot, but they were proud people before they learned and became even prouder as a result of their learning.

Unregenerate people will always put man first because that is a way of self being at the center of all things. God will be served as long as it can be with self in control in some way and self gaining an advantage in some way. How wicked a proud heart can be in its self-service and that includes the things of religion. Catholicism was a very man-centered religion in the time of the Reformation and continues so until this day. The Reformation brought back a God-centeredness in fact and in theology and life. While the theology of the Reformers may be making a comeback of sorts, it still seems to be devoid of the driving God-centeredness of the Reformers. When we oppose Catholicism because of theology alone, we are simply fighting their man-centeredness with our own. We must go beneath the theology to see that God must be the true center of all things or our pride will be.

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