Fall 2018: A Second and Greater Reformation
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
 
 

A Second and Greater Reformation

Part 2

Edwin de Kock

Sweden and Luther’s Church Today

Fifty-five years ago at Ladysmith, Natal, I met a distant relative with vivid memories from her childhood about a godly Seventh-day Adventist teacher. Apart from his normal subjects, he taught Bible, which was a feature of all the schools in the old South Africa. One day he talked about Martin Luther and said to her class: “Children, one day there will be another and greater Reformation than in his time.” She did not belong to our Church but never forgot his words. When she told me this, she was a middle-aged woman, older than I. Her teacher probably predicted that second Reformation in the 1920s or the 1930s, when she was a young girl. But what about the here and now in which we find ourselves? On October 31st, 1517 Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his 95 theses against indulgences to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany, and—without planning it—kindled the Reformation of the sixteenth century. We just recently commemorated the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther's hammer that day. Luther's reforms swept across the nations of Europe, and in many cases took root and grew to become the foundational beliefs of those countries. 

There were many supporters of the Protestant cause, some even prominent individuals that protected the Reformers as they strove to bring light into darkened medieval minds. One such protector of Luther was Frederick III, Elector of Saxony. Another was Queen Elizabeth I of England. Another one was King Gustavus Adolphus, a great Reformer of the country of Sweden, who set up domestic reforms that transformed the medieval country into an empire. He was well known for his exploits on the battlefield, winning because of his superb military machine, good weapons, excellent training, and effective field artillery. He was also the defender of the Protestant cause during the Thirty Years War. 

But how well is Sweden doing nowadays? Can we look to it for further leadership as a champion in the second, even greater Reformation predicted by that saintly Seventh-day Adventist teacher of so long ago? 

Sadly, after so many centuries, Sweden is now largely a secular country. Its prominent king, although still honored as a historical figure, now belongs to a fading past. Lutheranism is still Sweden's leading church, at least nominally. But observe what happened at the cathedral of Lund in southern Sweden on October 31, 2016 as reported by the BBC News of that day, as well as on the multilingual Vatican website under Francis: Homilies, 2016. 

Pope Francis himself arrived there to commemorate Reformation Day. Together with Lutheran leaders, he presided over an ecumenical prayer. The Jesuit pontiff praised the Reformation “for helping to give greater centrality to scripture in the church’s life.” He conveniently overlooked some ugly facts: Luther was excommunicated, and Protestants were often slain or burned at the stake. Decades of religious wars in Europe also followed as Catholicism tried to stamp out the Reformation.

Previously, Pope Francis had actually praised Martin Luther himself “for his fight against corruption and greed in the church of the time,” but now he stressed unity for all Christians—under himself, of course, although he did not say so. To put the capstone on this ecumenical love affair, “in a joint statement, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation said that both partners ‘are no longer strangers’ and that their joint goal was to bring members of the two churches together at the Eucharistic table.”

Among other things, he made the following ecumenical statement: “Here in Lund, at this prayer service, we wish to manifest our shared desire to remain one with Christ, so that we may have life. We ask him, ‘Lord, help us by your grace to be more closely united to you and thus, together, to bear a more effective witness of faith, hope and love.’ This is also a moment to thank God for the efforts of our many brothers and sisters from different ecclesial communities who refused to be resigned to division, but instead kept alive the hope of reconciliation among all who believe in the one Lord.” 1

In America, too, the Evangelical Lutheran Church this year declared officially that on many points “there are no longer church-dividing issues” with the Roman Catholic Church, according to Emily McFarlan Miller of Religion News Service. The  “Declaration on the Way” was approved 931-9 by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly held last week at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.” According to Wikipedia and other sources, the ELCA, which has about four million members, came into existence in 1988 by merging three denominations: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. Apart from belonging to the World Council of Churches as well as the Lutheran World Federation, the ELCA is in full communion with the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. We wonder which way they will go. And what would Martin Luther have thought of so much Protestant treachery?

But Are Seventh-day Adventists Ready for the Second Reformation?

Unfortunately the answer to this question must, for the present, be a shocking “no.” My reasons for saying so are detailed in “How Close Are We to the End?” 2 

Although the Seventh-day Adventist church has had a wonderful beginning of evangelistic fervour and prophetic revelation, unfortunately, many Seventh-day Adventists, even on leadership levels, are giving up the principles of our faith and the messages of the Three Angels of Revelation 14. 

While I was a child, a youth, and later an ever older man, I kept on looking forward to the dramatic events that must precede our Lord’s return, since more than eighty years ago. For a long time, I expected Him to come in my lifetime. Now, however, I realize that, because of the Laodicean sickness, this cannot be. Therefore, I must die and many others with me. And first the Shaking must come to rid us of much dead wood. It will probably result from persecution, including Sunday legislation, when many will leave our ranks to join the enemies who seek our destruction.

But the second and greater Protestant Reformation will certainly come, when the fourth angel of Revelation 18 lights up the world. A symbol of what we must yet become but are not yet, he will speak to God’s children everywhere and in every denomination, including the Church of Rome, urging them to leave Babylon. And the Lord’s voice from heaven will reinforce his message: “Come out of her, my people!” 

Then the Holy Spirit will be poured out as the Latter Rain upon the Remnant Church. This will be a second Pentecost. Here is a part of what Ellen G. White has predicted about that time:

The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are “the times of refreshing” to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus.” Acts 3:19, 20. The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost.3

It is with an earnest longing that I look forward to the time when the events of the day of Pentecost shall be repeated with even greater power than on that occasion. John says, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue. . . . Thousands of voices will be imbued with the power to speak forth the wonderful truths of God’s Word. The stammering tongue will be unloosed, and the timid will be made strong to bear courageous testimony to the truth. May the Lord help His people to cleanse the soul temple from every defilement, and to maintain such a close connection with Him that they may be partakers of the latter rain when it shall be poured out. 4

That is to be a revival and reformation without parallel since the last apostles died some two thousand years ago, among Christians in any denomination, including Seventh-day Adventists. Though they are not to be the primary function of the Latter Rain, many amazing miracles, including divine healing, will be performed. In the paragraphs cited, one is especially fascinating: “Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue”. Does this mean that the true gift of tongues, the supernatural endowment of speaking a foreign language, will again be manifested? That is surely what this sentence says.

It will also be a time of greater personal witness-ing to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people on a scale that few alive today can even imagine, since billions on this teeming planet must still be prepared for the Second Coming. There will, moreover, be ever-increasing persecution. But how wonderful it will be, when I am dead and gone—how many years from now? 

Those to participate in these final glorious moments of earth's history will be very privileged indeed, for so many, including I, have longed to be a part of that movement. It is my prayer that this second and greater reformation come soon so that we can all finally go home. Even so, come Lord Jesus.  

Edwin de Kock, international lecturer, writer, has published in three of the thirteen languages he is acquainted with. His fascination with prophecy and history began in his native South Africa more than fifty years ago. He has qualifications in theology, literature, education, and speech. He was a professional educator for more than thirty-five years, in South Africa, South Korea, and the United States, especially as a college teacher. He finished this career as a writing professor at the University of Texas, Pan American, from 1996 to 2000.

1 “Common Ecumenical Prayer at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund, Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Sweden, 31 October–1 November 2016”, in the same homily

2 The article can be read on the website propheticum.com

3 GC 611-612

4 (SDABC, EGW’s comments on Acts 2:1-4, p. 1035)


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