Core Beliefs and Strategy

  


A New Reformation

Sola Scriptura    Sola Discipula

 The Scriptures Alone              The Disciple Alone

The New Reformation

Our evangelical churches and denominations favor Bible reading, but do not, in general, promote direct chronological cover-to-cover reading of the Scriptures.  Members involved in chronological cover-to-cover reading frequently need to use resources outside of the church and denomination to read through the Bible (We used sources outside our church and denomination to obtain the reading plan we use). 

The New Reformation will seek to make chronological cover-to-cover Bible reading a primary emphasis in our Evangelical Churches, Denominations and Seminaries.  This will be done by:

o             Building commitment to direct cover-to-cover reading of the Scriptures chronologically through a growing comradery in the local church

o             Building commitment to direct cover-to-cover reading of the Scriptures chronologically through a growing comradery in our evangelical denominations.

o             Building commitment to direct cover-to-cover reading of the Scriptures chronologically through a growing comradery and support in our evangelical seminaries.

o             Building a website and establishing a media presence with a focus on cover-to-cover chronologically reading the Bible. 

Specifically, we propose, at the Church level, that Churches more actively promote chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible.  This could easily be done by endorsing the Bible cover-to-cover read-through effort with an occasional mention from the Pulpit - and a similar mention in Sunday Schools and in the Church Bulletin.   Links to Bible reading plans could be added to Church websites. The New Reformation will have little impact on Sunday services - remember, the Bible reading will be done outside of the Sunday worship service with the believer alone - and His Holy Scriptures alone.

On a Denomination level, modify documents of church governance (denomination bylaws, books of church order, etc.) to specifically address and promote chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible.  This effort, (potentially a major and lengthy task in view of the size of many of our evangelical denominations) will normally reflect an agreement by the Denomination to address and promote this effort.

 In our Evangelical Seminaries, modify curriculum to contain a distinct emphasis on the chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible effort for future Pastors and Teachers as they lead their flocks.  Ask the seminaries to provide help with reading plans and doctrinal guidance. 

Goal and Strategy:  A New Reformation

The goal is to read the Bible directly - chronologically cover-to-cover.  By reading through the Bible cover-to-cover chronologically you can obtain an understanding of the flow of God's Plan of Salvation.  

But few directly read cover-to-cover the entire Bible.

In the first Reformation Luther fought the Roman Catholic Church that controlled access to the Bible.  He translated the Bible into German so it could be read by the common people.   We have a different situation now but the results are the same - the Bible does not get read by the commoners. We do a lot of reading, and podcasts, and websites, about the Scriptures - but our main evangelical Churches denominations in general do not directly and actively promote direct chronological cover-to-cover reading of the Bible. 

The New Reformation addresses this problem.  Reading directly through the entire Bible chronologically is the focus of this Reformation - a New Reformation.

Why Chronologically?  Why not Read the Bible in Order of Genesis to Revelations?  What Difference Does it Make?

Chronological is defined as “starting with the earliest and following the order in which they occurred”. 

“In the Beginning” introduces the concept of “chronological” in the very first words of the Word.  This is followed by an orderly explanation, chronologically, day by day, of merely all of creation.  Soon following, chronologically, occurs the fall.  This is chronologically soon followed by the promise of a Redeemer.    Events march forward - chronologically.  A nation is formed.  Judges rule.  A King is chosen. A split occurs.  One kingdom falls, then the other, chronologically, as both nations succumb to idolatry.   Then, at the appointed time, our Redeemer comes, incarnate and born in a stable.  His ministry is measured, chronologically, between months and years when “His time had not yet come” - and, chronologically, the time where “His time had come”. 

What “time” was it when "His time had come"?  Passover!  An event which occurred millennia prior, chronologically. 

Listen to how one of our great Creeds outlines the work of Christ, chronologically: "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead." 

Chronologically, our Creator's Plan of Salvation is revealed in His Word, from the fall, until the Cross, and finally, to the empty Tomb.  Chronologically - starting with the earliest events of creation and following the order in which they occurred - is how the Holy Scriptures reveal the Plan of our Creator to save His people - and Chronologically is how His Word will preferably be read in our New Reformation.

We will read, that is, until such time in the future, chronologically, when the hands of all clocks are frozen on eternity (in accordance with His Plan which He put into place, chronologically, before the foundations of the world) and we will worship Him in His presence forever.

Aren't you Saying that the Book of Amos is as Important as the Gospel of Matthew?  How can this be?

The Holy Scriptures are the divinely inspired revelation of our Creator to covenant and provide a Plan of Salvation for His people through the Redeemer Jesus Christ.   These Holy Scriptures include the Gospel of Matthew as well as the Book of Amos.

Having said that, the Team is not in the position to assess the relative importance of one Book in His Holy Scriptures over another.  We will not address these questions.

Our Experience - Repetition is Important

We have found the reading of the Scriptures cover-to-cover chronologically every year to be life changing.  The progressive revelation of His Plan for our salvation through this effort have became real, upfront and personal.   Our experience with our annual journey is the main reason why we have undertaken the New Reformation project.   

Having said that, we recognize the challenge of reading through the Bible cover-to-cover chronologically.  It is not easy.  We live in a part of the Nation that is hot and dry during the summer.  This is also the time of the year in our annual journey when we are reading through the major prophets.  They convey the frustration and anger of our Creator at the continual, continual, continual fall into idolatry of His people.  The heat of the summer parallels the tone of the reading.  At times this makes for a long season.  We are thankful for the oasis of His promise sprinkled throughout these books of the coming of His Savior.  (For those who understand, the "Gospel of Isaiah" is certainly an appropriate framing of this blessed Book.)  

But the seasons turn and the cooler temperatures of fall welcome the Gospel of Jesus!   

Even so, understanding His Plan of Salvation through the read of the entire Scriptures is not easy.  We continue to learn.  We are thankful for the allied and essential teachings of the Bride of Christ - His Church. We continually want to emphasize the importance of the help from His Bride as we walk along in our annual journey. 

We also want to emphasize that a one-time read through of the Bible was not that effective for us in teaching His Plan of Salvation. It took years, doing a chronological read through each year, to come into a more solid grasp of His Plan - and we are still learning.  And so we start our read anew each year on Jan 1.  

For whatever reading Plan He has in store for you - repetition is important.  

Local Church Strategy - The New Reformation

How would the Local Church implement the New Reformation? 

-          Sunday School or Home Fellowship Group Mention

One approach would be to develop a 5-minute talk to introduce the tools for reading through the Bible which could be presented at the opening session of each Sunday School class.  Another approach would be to introduce the New Reformation ideas at the Home Fellowship groups.  Both approaches are low key and won't take much effort. 

-          Brief Pulpit Mention- or Mention in Announcements/Bulletin 

Make a brief, periodic pulpit mention - or mention in the announcements or bulletin - like this; “by the way, for those of you that are going through our read through the Bible program, we will be reading the scriptures that we are covering in today's sermon on August 27th.”   Very little change to Sunday services are suggested.  Maybe 12 minutes a year pulpit time.  Alternatively, a mention in the bulletin and/or announcements would work.  

The goal is not to change what believers do in the worship service - but what they do outside of worship on their own time.  This is no small consideration by the way.  There are so many  options and "entertainments" available to those made in His Image.  What can be more profitable for a day-to-day activity than reading His Word?

                        -     Sermon Selection and/or Sunday School Curriculum

Collaboration between the New Reformation effort and the Sunday School curriculum and/or Sermon selection would be helpful.  A curriculum of related teachings should be developed.  A church should say, “since we are supporting the cover-to-cover Bible reading effort, we have developed these sermons and/or classes to provide guidance to our members”.  At minimum, this curriculum should include sermons and/or classes on two topics, (1) the Confessions - to provide doctrinal guidance during the read-through - and (2) the various Covenants - since the Bible is all about our Covenant keeping Creator.  Who will develop this Curriculum?

                        -     Church Website Link to Reading Plans

Add links to Bible reading plans in the Church website.  Frankly, this is important - and it is best that the Church provide this guidance.   Web searches, as we all know, can have issues.  

Denominational Strategy - The New Reformation

Start up a Study Committee within each of our evangelical denominations. Consider how the denominational books of church governance could be revised to mention chronological cover-to-cover reading. Explore how cover-to-cover reading can be brought into the worship strategy. 

Seminary Strategy - The New Reformation

Our Seminaries can provide strong assistance and lead in the New Reformation effort.  They can provide significant well considered theological and doctrinal support.  They can help develop the reading plans.  They can also start teaching our new Pastors how to include the New Reformation effort into their worship services and teaching.

Website Strategy - The New Reformation

The New Reformation team will use this website to convey the basics of the New Reformation.  It will be updated from time to time as we run into new thoughts or issues.  However, it is our belief that the message in this website will not change much.  The message is simple and focused:

Specifically, we propose, at the Church level, that Churches more actively promote chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible.  This could easily be done by endorsing the Bible cover-to-cover read-through effort with an occasional mention from the Pulpit - and/or a similar mention in Sunday Schools and/or in the Church Bulletin.   Links to Bible reading plans could be added to Church websites. The New Reformation will have little impact on Sunday services - remember, the Bible reading will be done outside of the Sunday worship service with the believer alone - and His Holy Scriptures alone.

On a Denomination level, modify documents of church governance (denomination bylaws, books of church order, etc.) to specifically address and promote chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible.  This effort, (potentially a major and lengthy task in view of the size of many of our evangelical denominations) will normally reflect an agreement by the Denomination to address and promote this effort.

In our Evangelical Seminaries, modify curriculum to contain a distinct emphasis on the chronological, cover-to-cover reading of the entire Bible effort for future Pastors and Teachers as they lead their flocks.  Ask the seminaries to provide help with reading plans and doctrinal guidance.              

-Website Team-

We provide background who we are and our beliefs in the “Our Beliefs and Who We Are” page in this website

A Few Questions

How do you learn about God’s Plan of Salvation in our evangelical churches and our denominations?   This is what I hear.  Listen to this sermon.  Read this book.  Listen to this podcast.  Check out this blog.  Talk to this person.  Study these Covenants.  

We don’t see, “read the Bible.  The whole Bible.  Cover-to-cover”.  At least we don't see it as a clear, ongoing and consistent emphasis.

Is the Bible God’s Word?   The answer we always hear is “Absolutely yes”.  Cover-to-cover.  If this is the case, is it taught cover-to-cover?  When will Obadiah be taught?  How about Joel?  If Jeremiah is taught all the way through, when is the next time that it will be taught - all the way through?

When books are selected for a teaching series, what order are they selected in - is it Chronologically? What we see is Churches move around in their teaching series selection - Chronologically.  In contrast, the Bible reveals God’s plan of salvation progressively.  How does this sermon selection process work from the standpoint of teaching a chronological revelation of God’s Plan?   (Please understand, we support this sermon  selection approach - and would not change it.  We have been under very fine teaching and benefited from the sermon series we have received.  We do, however, believe that our understanding of these teachings is enhanced when reading though the bible cover-to-cover  chronologically at the same time - and vice versa as discussed herein.)

A Final Question - Will this be an easy change for our Churches, Denominations, and Seminaries?  Maybe - but maybe not. God’s Word is transforming.   What will be the impact if our pastors and teachers find themselves facing “Priests” who comprise the “Priesthood of Believers” - made so measurably by the working of His Spirit through the chronological reading of His entire Word cover-to-cover?  How will those in the pulpit be impacted by those Priests who are now sitting in the pews?  It may not be easy for those who are our pastors and teachers - to guide these new "Priests" - a few who have now become learned "theologians"  (spelled entirely with small letters quite intentionally).  Not easy at all.  This leads to our next point....

Pray for our Pastors, Elders, and Church Leaders

Pray for our Church leaders.   Pray that they may be given wisdom and discernment with respect to how to adopt the New Reformation.  If they decide to move forward on assisting in this New Reformation, pray that they be given patients and discernment to help provided the doctrinal guidance and instruction that will inevitably be needed - and essentially required.  

Regardless, pray for them anyway.  Our culture has inverted itself.  Upside down.  Our Church leaders are working diligently and consistently to lead their flocks in this culture, and they need our Prayers.  We are asking that the New Reformation principles be adopted - but how can this Reformation even be considered during our rampaging times?  

We on our Team do not see how our New Reformation can be discussed or addressed during the continual distractions that our crazy times provides - apart from the Holy Spirit working - which is how things will work occur regardless.  And so we trust in His working - we are thankful for His Covenants.

We are thankful for our Church leaders.  We have been blessed by our Church Leaders. We will Pray for our Church leaders.   We encourage all who read this to pray for our Church Leaders.

A Hard Truth  

Luke 4:9-12 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’.”

Here is a hard truth. Satan knows Scripture.  He can twist it.  He can take it out of context.  He can use it for his own purposes.  This is one of the reasons why believers should regularly read and take in the full testimony of scriptures - to see how it all, cover-to-cover, fits together.  If you read the whole of the scriptures, you are less likely to fall into the trap of building a wrong understanding of Scriptures by being led astray by the tempter and accuser.

A New Scholasticism

The Team is not that broadly read, nor learned, to pursue with authority the notion that a diet of solely or near exclusively “para-biblical” teaching has, or could, result in the formation of a unique “theology”.  A new Scholasticism.  However, there is unbiblical work out there - a lot of people generate it - and a lot of people live on it.  Venture outside of the protection and shelter of conservative Christian circles and you’ll find it.  

For protection from this, if nothing else, our denominations and our churches need to arm themselves with the Sword of the Spirit, the whole of the Holy Scriptures cover to cover.

Here is a definition of Scholasticism for your information.  Scholasticism occurs were belief goes “unanchored” to the scriptures and theologians get creative:

“Scholasticism was a medieval school of philosophy that employed a critical organic method of philosophical analysis predicated upon the Aristotelian 10 Categories. Christian scholasticism emerged within the monastic schools that translated scholastic Judeo—Islamic philosophies, and thereby "rediscovered" the collected works of Aristotle. Endeavoring to harmonize his metaphysics and its account of a prime mover with the Latin Catholic dogmatic trinitarian theology, these monastic schools became the basis of the earliest European medieval universities, and scholasticism dominated education in Europe from about 1100 to 1700. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with these schools that flourished in Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and England.”  Quote from Wikipedia.

Is New Scholasticism Heresy?  An Olive Branch

We will not answer the heresy question.  But issues raised by the New Reformation movement are serious.  Does the Church teach the total of Scriptures - every book?  We do not want to drive the New Reformation into a wall of conflict by becoming unnecessarily combative.  But there is a problem.  Our Sovereign Creator provided every book in the Bible in a format to be read. 

Do we dare not read every book that was sovereignly and intentionally given to us by Him?

The New Reformation will cause change.  It will lead to opposition and to conflict which will come from many sources, some which are going to be quite surprising.  However, before swords are drawn and heresy is charged, we call for reflection and reason. 

We offer an Olive Branch: 

First, there is very little effort our Churches will need to make to support the New Reformation.  On a Church level, the effort impacts primarily what our members do outside the church.  Only a brief mention of the effort is necessary.

Secondly, on a denominational level, a mere acknowledgement of the New Reformation recommendations, via minor modifications of church governing law, is all that is recommended.  Governance, in its various forms for our conservative evangelical denominations, typically already acknowledges that the entirety of the Word of God should be studied.  Not much more is needed to be consistent with what we propose (In actuality, it may take much effort to revise these laws to support the New Reformation effort.  For our major denominations, it may take years to revise laws of governance.  With that said, the “theological” distance between what is typically stipulated or outlined in these laws of governance for our evangelical denominations, and the New Reformation - is quite short.)

Third, we recognize that many will not be able to participate in a full Bible read through program.  We provide a list of some of those that might not be able to and we suggest that for these groups an abbreviated reading program be developed.

Fourth, we recognize that it is not the reading of the Bible that leads to salvation.  Salvation is only provided by His Spirit and the indwelling effort of justification.

Fifth, we recognize clearly that the Bride of Christ is necessary for understanding the Bible.  We cannot number or adequately value the importance of the insights helpful in understanding the Bible that we have been provided with via the Holy Spirit working through the teachings of our Church.  We are blessed often by the Music which accompanies and supports the instruction as well!

Sixth, we recognize that the Bible itself, the Holy Scriptures, commands that Bible reading is not a “go it alone” effort.  We are to combine the reading of His Sovereignly provided and inspired words with teaching provided by the Bride of Christ.  This is not an option.  It is a command.  Jesus commissioned His Church to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20). An essential and scripturally commanded component of Christian discipleship, and our journey as Christians, is to be under the teachings of the Church. 

Seventh and finally, we recognize that adoption of the New Reformation may be difficult for some - coming at a difficult time in our tumultuous culture.   Our Church leaders need our prayers.  We will pray for our Church leaders for wisdom on how to address this New Reformation - and we will pray for our Church leaders regardless.  As we have noted and again emphasize here, leading our Church during these times is very difficult.  We encourage all who read this to pray for them as well.  

The New Reformation effort of reading the entirety of Scriptures and the distinct and many efforts to teach, instruct and disciple provided by the Church - are perfect complements.  They support each other.

Accept this Olive Branch dear Bride of Christ and help us in this New Reformation.  

You Need the Bride of Christ.

In no way will the New Reformation effort seek to replace any of the efforts or resources provided by the Bride of Christ - in their many forms.   Moreover, the New Reformation is not intended to become a parachurch organization.  Even though you can read through the Bible chronologically by yourself, explanation of what you are reading, along with doctrinal guidance, will be needed - and is essential - and will need to be provided by the Bride of Christ. 

The New Reformation will enhance and improve the need for Church instruction and doctrinal guidance.  An effective synergy of teaching and Bible reading, on the Church level, could include the development of a Church provided teaching series on Covenants of the Bible - to provide a framework for more fully understanding the Plan of Salvation provided during the Bible read through. 

Blogs, Books, and Online Sermons can be an Appropriate Function of the Church

Through the working of the Holy Spirit, biblically consistent, doctrinally sound blogs, books, and online sermons and teachings can be a source of tremendous edification for the believer.   We all benefit from teachings from these sources. However, this “diet” needs to be combined with a chronological, cover-to-cover complete reading of His Scriptures.

The Believer Reading the Bible

As far as the believer reading the Bible - we don't want to say “do things our way” because there are a number of ways to do a cover-to-cover chronological reading.   You can do the reading over 6 months or a year, or two years. 

Having said that, we will point out a few things.  What has worked best for us is to do the reading over a year.  We also listen to an audio reader which reads the daily texts so we are both reading and listening at the same time.   We listen to a teaching that corresponds to our daily reading as well.

Finally, even though we do the daily reading along with the audio reading, much, if not most of our understanding of the Bible comes from the teachings of our Church.  The Bible teaching we are under along with the Bible studies we attend have provided us with innumerable insights on what we are covering daily in our reading - along with an understanding of the “big picture” (i.e., covenantal viewpoint) on innumerable occasions.   The teachings from the Bride of Christ - His Church - compliment the Bible reading process on every level.

Full Cover-to-Cover Bible Reading Isn't for Everyone

We convey a change in directions here on an important issue. The Bible makes a distinction between those who are ready for spiritual milk – and those ready for spiritual meat.  It should be the goal for every believer to read through the Bible cover-to-cover chronologically, but some may not be ready.  

The Bible is not just meat – its prime rib.   Many will not be ready for prime rib 365 days a year.  

We want to be careful and wary of making the Bible reading exercise yet another work righteousness “to do” to earn your salvation. The Bible, precious as it is, does not provide Salvation.  It is the gift of our Creator of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior resulting in justification and cleansing from sin that leads to Salvation.  The salvation of a sinner and the gift of eternal life is granted by His will.   No doubt, this gift can be given as directed by His will to those that have very little exposure to the Bible.

Believers should be encouraged to read though the Bible – but not required.  Some may not have the time in their schedule to make the commitment – and there may be solid reasons for this.  Also, it should be accepted with patience and the love of Christ that there may be leaders and officers in the Church that do not have the time, or be ready, for a daily and continual read through of the Bible.  

The development of a number of abbreviated Bible read-through plans for various situations should be considered.  Groups that would benefit from having a revised and abbreviated chronological Bible reading plan include:

o            Those new to the cover-to-cover Journey

o             The seeker including those from other nations

o             Our homeless and transient population

o             Those in assisted living or skilled nursing

o             The incarcerated

Bible Reading Plans for Family Devotionals

There are parts of the Bible that are blunt and not suited for reading to young children or family reading.  Check out Ezekiel.   Moreover, some of the daily readings are quite lengthy and would be hard on the attention span of younger folk.  A thorough but appropriate reading plan is needed for family times. 

Scripture Memorization 

Much of the thinking that we have provided for cover-to-cover chronological reading of the  Bible also applies to the memorization of Scriptures.  It would do well to have both cover-to-cover chronological reading of Scripture and Scripture memorization considered and addressed in concert.  Both are allied and complementary activities.  Again we stress that salvation only occurs through accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior - and we don't want to burden the believer with another works righteousness "to do" - but intentional and focused coordination of reading and memorization activities could be a very fruitful and edifying for many in our Churches.

The New Reformation and God’s Faithfulness to His Eternal Covenants after the Closing of the Cannon

His Covenants continue.  They are effective today, and they will continue forever.  This obvious and clear fact will be considered as the New Reformation Project is developed.  (However, the discussion of Church history and God’s progressive revelation of His Plan of redemption to our, and future, generations can be most accurately and effectively undertaken, with the ongoing guidance of daily reading of His revealed will being undertaken at the same time - cover-to-cover and chronologically.)  

Exploring God’s Faithfulness to His eternal covenants after the closing of the cannon is a major undertaking. The New Reformation Team is open to it and this may impact the content of our Blog at some point.

Final Thoughts

We close now by offering a thought which has been on our mind since we started planning the New Reformation.  It's a real head scratcher.  Frankly, why isn’t the evangelical Church all over this?  Why aren’t reading plans in place, associated and focused teachings available, and seminaries involved - in full Bible cover-to-cover reading?   His divinely inspired and holy Word comes to us in Book form. Aren't books suppose to be read and since the Bible is His Word, shouldn't it be read cover-to-cover?

The Confessions were labored over for months and years – why weren't they accompanied with reading plans?  Same thought for the Catechisms – no reading plans were provided.  Over the many years, so much work has been done; but no reading plans provided - or efforts to provide them.  At least none that resulted in a clear and ongoing Church emphasis.  

Why haven’t those sitting in the pews been clearly and consistently informed of The Great Insight… “you know, salvation comes only through accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior - and we don't want to burden you with another works righteousness "to do"... but... you can read the Bible cover-to-cover yourself… with some help… which we can provide…”.   

This should have happened long, long ago. Centuries ago. With a loud voice.  With exceptional and clear vigor. 

In pondering and in prayer we have finally come to one conclusion; the blindness to this obvious and clear consideration has a cause. It is a cause known for it's cleverness.  This cause can endlessly assume many faces and forms.  Understand that our intent is not to alarm or overstate... but it’s the only explanation we can think of to address such profound and long enduring oversight.  

This cause has an unusual talent...  It slithers… It's how serpents get around...

In response we offer these thoughts of strength and confidence provided by His Holy Spirit through the great reformer himself:      

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, 

for Lo! his doom is sure, 

One little Word (indeed His Word) shall fell him

 Welcome to the New Reformation.







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