This is Daniel Whyte III, President of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #1007, titled, “THE STORY OF CHRISTIANITY: THE REFORMATION TO THE PRESENT DAY” (Volume 2) BY JUSTO L. GONZALEZ
When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our Scripture for today is Acts 20:28 which reads: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Paul House. He said: “The early church was most useful when it preached the meaning of Christ through the lens of the whole of Scripture. It was most powerful when it maintained integrity with God and other human beings. It was most evangelistic when it understood that adherents of other religions, whether Jewish or Greek or Roman, faced eternal judgment without Christ.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Call For Reformation, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, THE STORY OF CHRISTIANITY: THE REFORMATION TO THE PRESENT DAY (Volume 2).
THE CALL FOR REFORMATION
“The dissolution is such, that the souls entrusted to the clergy receive great damage, for we are told that the majority of the clergy are living in open concubinage, and that if our justice intervenes in order to punish them, they revolt and create a scandal, and that they despise our justice to the point that they arm themselves against it.”
-Isabella of Castile, on November 20, 1500
As the fifteenth century came to a close, it was clear that the church was in need of profound reformation, and that many longed for it. The decline and corruption of the papacy was well known. After its residence in Avignon, where it had served as a tool of French interests, the papacy had been further weakened by the Great Schism, which divided Western Europe in its allegiance to two–and even three–popes. At times, the various claimants to the papal see seemed equally unworthy. Then, almost as soon as the schism was healed, the papacy fell into the hands of men who were more moved by the glories of the Renaissance than by the message of the cross. Through war, intrigue, bribery, and licentiousness, these popes sought to restore and even to outdo the glories of ancient Rome. As a result, while most people still believed in the supreme authority of the Roman see, many found it difficult to reconcile their faith in the papacy with their distrust for its actual occupants.
Corruption, however, was not limited to the leadership in Rome. The councils that had been convened as a means to reform and to end the Great Schism were able to end the schism, but not to bring about the needed reformation. Furthermore, even in ending the schism the conciliar movement showed its own flaws, for there were soon two rival councils–just as before there had been two or even three rival popes, and conciliarism had failed miserably in the task of bringing about the much-needed reform. One of the reasons for such failure was that several of the bishops sitting in the councils were themselves among those who profited from the existing corruption. Thus, while the hopeful conciliarist reformers issued anathemas and decrees against absenteeism, pluralism, and simony–the practice of buying and selling ecclesiastical positions–many who sat on the councils were guilty of such practices, and were not ready to give them up.
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.