Continuing the Reformation

The truth shall set you free

Christo A. Nel

 

This article is available here. The full book is available on this website.

Endorsements

Dr. Christo Nel has written an interesting and challenging little book. He invites his readers to review Covenant Theology in the light of new historical data and the teachings of the New Testament. In the same vein as some of the theologians of the Continuing Reformation, he challenges us to continue reforming the Church and its doctrines. The recommendations he posits at the end of the book are not only simple, but also do-able. He should be lauded for his initiative in this regard.

Dr. Olea Nel

Author of South Africa’s Forgotten Revival: The Story of the Cape’s Great Awakening in 1860 www.oleanel.com

Have you ever heard the saying “Ignorance is bliss”? That is most definitely not the truth.

Many people, because of early childhood religious teaching which became their belief system, have ever taken time to ponder whether it is man made or God inspired.

Christo has the passion for truth to spotlight the subject of baptism, which is causing much heartache in the lives of many of God’s children.

With his knowledge and unique style, the truth is revealed in a very simple yet profound manner, setting many free from spiritual slavery handed down through the years.

This belief system has trapped the minds of many of God’s children, and stunted their spiritual growth in experiencing the supernatural.

Christo has unlocked the truth in a profound, yet simple way and I trust that as you read that the Holy Spirit will illuminate it in such a way that the Truth will set you free, as well.

This little book is a must for you and as a gift to a friend.

Pastor Jean Keys
Author of Live your Dream
Master Coach

 

Contents

 

Acknowledgements............................................................. i

Chapter 1............................................................................... 2

My theological paradigms shifted dramatically........... 2

Chapter 2............................................................................... 6

The incomplete work of the Reformation...................... 6

Chapter 3............................................................................. 12

Baptising infants or not................................................... 12

Chapter 4............................................................................. 21

Continuing the Reformation challenges us to return to the Word            21

Chapter 5............................................................................. 33

The Courage to return back to the Word ... again and again          33

About the Author.............................................................. 40

Contact Information.......................................................... 42

References.......................................................................... 43

 

Chapter 1

My theological paradigms shifted dramatically

As the minister of a very large Dutch Reformed congregation with thousands of members, one does not have many opportunities for serious reflection on biblical truths one had always thought you understood and believed as it is written in the Bible.

Although one is regularly confronted by "the other side's view", it is not taken serious enough to consider the elements of truth in those arguments.

 

You are so busy defending your beliefs that these rare moments of reflection on the meaning of the biblical truths (as a child of the Reformation should be doing) pass by, unquestioned.

 

After a three-month visit to Switzerland, I started to study the history and writings of the leaders of the Reformation in detail. It was then I discovered something I'd never noticed before or even heard about, before or during my many years of theological studies.

 

If I am sincerely honest, I need to say I had been thoroughly shaken by my discoveries, especially by the fact that during more than 15 years of intense theological studies I never read or heard about the facts I had been confronted with since then.

 

I discovered a split in the main leadership of the Reformation movement during its initial period. Some members were not willing to go the whole distance and minister the total truth of God’s Word to His people, although all agreed on what the total truth was.

 

Three books I have read afterwards confirmed this.

 

Let me just stress that as a theologian, I have read and studied hundreds upon hundreds of books. Many were on the subject of the Reformation and the Early Church covering in particular, the issue of baptism. What made these three books and especially the first two so special, was the fact that we had at our disposal the most recent historical studies which incorporated the literature and the facts.

 

THE REFORMERS AND THEIR STEPCHILDREN[i] by Leonard Verduin, was a study sponsored by the Calvin Institute, after his examination of records of medieval dissent opposed to the order of "Christendom", which for the most part, had been long-suppressed through the ages.[ii]

 

A huge part of the debate and struggle centred on the truth surrounding baptism. Although history never can be the final judge, the historical study of the well-known Greek Professor, Johannes P. Louw and his colleague, Professor Hennie Stander, head of the Department of Ancient Languages at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, regarding baptism in the Early Church (the first century till 428 AD), really made a huge difference to my own life and way of thinking. Their study is published under the title, BAPTISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH.[iii]

 

The book by E.H. Broadbent, THE PILGRIM CHURCH[iv], highlights some account of continuance through the centuries of churches that practiced principles taught and exemplified in the New Testament.

 

During my personal walk before the Lord regarding this, I experienced Him instructing me to use the Online Bible software program and print all verses in the Bible referring directly to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. He also instructed me to study these verses in context in the Hebrew and Greek and said “I will reveal Myself in a new way to you!”

 

Over a period of more than three months I studied more than 325 Scripture verses from the Old and New Testaments and experienced how God, the Holy Spirit, revealed Himself as the Spirit of the Father and of the Son to me. I also discovered the "power" Jesus spoke about and promised his disciples in Acts 1:8 where He said: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

Jesus Christ, whom I accepted and have known as Lord and Saviour since October 1969, revealed Himself to me in a brand new way as the Baptizer with the Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit, as Spirit of Truth, revealed old, well-known biblical passages to me as "new wine" which totally changed my life. It also changed my relationship with God, my ministry within His Body, my theological paradigms of the Ecclesia or Church, my understanding of the work and ministry of the Spirit, as well as who a member of the Body of Christ really is.

 

During this time at the feet of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Teacher, I read the story of His New Testament Ecclesia as if for the first time in my life, although I had read through the entire Bible once a year more than 20 times before.

 

It was as if I was reading it through the eyes of a child or a new-born follower of Christ, without all the boundaries and theological teachings I absorbed over the years.

 

And I discovered that only believers could according to the New Testament be baptised.

 

I need to remind you that all this occurred while I was still a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church and a member of various study committees of the General and Provincial Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.

 

It is important to stress that I am a most logical and rational human being as you can find, without a strong emotional side, and that this was not a mere emotional experience.

 

You can imagine the utter unbelief among the thirty- seven clergy members from our Regional Circle in Potchefstroom (a very staid Afrikaner habitat) when they heard that my wife and I, with our two kids, were baptised as believers and that I had resigned as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, because I believed God wanted to use me among His people in his whole Body.

 

I also believe God was challenging me to be His instrument in calling His people out of the darkness we stepped into during the Reformation. This darkness came about because those leaders had been disobedient to the voice of God who called them to lead His people into accepting the whole truth recorded in the Bible, especially the truths as taught in the New Testament.

 

For this reason, I ask you to bear with me for a few moments as I share with you what I have discovered and learnt along the way that changed my paradigms and ultimately my life.




[i] Verduin, L. The Reformers and their Stepchildren. Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 2000.

[ii] Verduin, p. 6,7.

[iii] Stander, H.F. and Louw, Johannes P.  Baptism in the Early Church. Leeds, England: Reformation Today Trust, 2004.

[iv] Broadbent, E.H. The Pilgrim Church. London: Pickering & Inglis Ltd, 1931.

Trainer & Facilitator