From the book, Always Reformed, comes this little anecdote by R.C. Sproul. In it he talks of Martin Luther’s reaction to Christians in his day, who went back to the “old ways” before the Reformation. By the second paragraph, Sproul comments on what it means for us Christians today.
“[Luther] wondered, why is it that people are still spending their money on indulgences and on what Luther called the Pope’s second-hand junk? He said, the Pope is like a decoy duck, sitting on a pond with a great bag of tricks, seducing people with this nonsense. He wondered why it is that people ignore the Word of God and exchange it for Joseph’s pants…
“What relevance does that have for us today? We don’t see the evangelical church of our day rushing to depositories of sacred relics. Nobody’s looking for Joseph’s pants. Rather we have invested our time, our energy, and our money in more contemporary ways to improve the gospel. We look to programs, to Madison Avenue methodologies, to entertainment, to pop psychology, even to the establishment of Starbucks in the church to improve the gospel. Why do we do this? I think people in the church today are looking for exactly what they were looking for in sixteenth-century Germany. They went to Trier, they went to Aachen and they went to these relics because they believed that the relics had power. Every pastor wants to have a powerful ministry. And so we look to the latest program, to the latest method to give us a powerful ministry, forgetting where the Lord God omnipotent has put the power in the first place.” [Always Reformed, 190]
If that doesn’t whet your appetite to get a copy of Always Reformed, I don’t know what will.
PS Trier and Aachen are cities in Germany. The former is known as the oldest city in Germany, while the latter is principally known for its spas and being a residence of Charlemagne.