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呼吁教会悔改的危险(麦克阿瑟)陈鸽翻译(2018-10-8)

你听说过一个教会悔改吗?不是个人,乃是整个教会,他们集体认识到全会众所犯的过错,之后公开承认,并真诚地按照圣经,带着忧伤痛悔的心,在神面前深深忏悔。有吗?

 可叹,也许你从未听过。

 再进一步问,你曾经听说过一个牧者,召唤他的教会悔改;若不悔改,他就用神的审判来警戒他的会众。有吗?

 忠言逆耳

 这也不太可能。似乎今天的牧师,连呼召个人悔改都很难,何况呼吁整个教会为他们集体所犯的罪向神交账呢!事实上,一个牧师若有胆量带领他的教会悔改,那么,他在那个教会也许就呆不长了。至少,他会遭到教会内部的抵制和鄙视,这种不可避免的强烈反弹,可能引发一种先发制人的恐惧,以致大多教会领袖从未考虑过呼吁教会全整悔改。

 人言可畏

 另一方面,如果一位教会牧者或领袖,够胆劝勉另一个教会,而不是自己牧养的教会悔改的话,那么,他几乎肯定会被谴责:好批评、爱论断、制造分裂、越权篡位;就有一大群人会起来,异口同声地反对他,告诉他不要多管闲事儿。如此的诋毁他,就能为受责备的教会开一条出路,来完全回避那一位牧者的警戒。

 一去难返

 其实,教会很少悔改的。一旦开始走上世俗化、离经叛道的滑坡路,教会随着时间,通常每况愈下,越发远离正统。几乎没有教会可以恢复起初的健全;他们很少因集体得罪了神而生发出痛悔的心;很少转离腐败的生活、不义的行为、错误的教训;很少从内心深处恳求神的赦免、洁净和复兴。大多从来没想过这个问题,因为他们已经常年悠哉、习以为常了。

 在现实中,呼吁教会悔改与改革是非常冒险的,教会历史中充满了这样的例子。

 “大驱逐日”

The Great Ejection

 “清教徒”(Puritan)这个名称,起初是用以嘲讽和藐视的贬义词。它本用在一群16-17世纪英国圣公会(Anglican churches)的牧者身上,他们曾试图清除教会中残留的罗马天主教的传统和影响。这些清教徒的牧者,反复劝勉英格兰的教会,要为他们情欲的泛滥、异端的教训、圣职的腐化而忏悔,然而,英国圣公会(国教)却拒绝悔改,尽管他们不否认改革的必要,但只想走一条“中庸之道”,而不是彻底归正。

 顽固抵挡

 那些掌握英国圣公会高阶层领导地位的人,已经冥顽不灵、无可救药了,但他们不是静默不动,而是定意要止息那呼吁他们悔改的声音。因此,几十年来,这些清教徒受到宗教领袖和政界领导双方面的敌视与逼迫。其中,有许多为他们的信仰受害受死的;也有许多为基督的缘故忍受牢狱和酷刑的。直到1662年,当逼迫到达最高峰,英国议会就颁布了一道“统一法案”,基本上要求所有的信徒必须严格遵循圣公会(国教)的教导和做法。这就导致了英国属灵历史上一个不堪回首、惨不忍睹的日子,1662824日,通常称为“大驱逐日”(The Great Ejection)。在那一天,两千位清教徒的牧者被取消按牧、撤除圣职,并永远赶出他们所牧养的圣公教会。

 那些虔诚的清教徒明白,英格兰教会必须悔改归正,然后国家才会转向基督。但那些死不悔改的教会领袖,非但不弃掉自己的腐败和罪孽,反而竭力要压制任何劝导他们悔改归正的声音。

 堕落起点

 接下来的历史表明,这次的“大驱逐”,不是昙花一现的孤立事件。尽管这些清教徒被赶出教会,且与他们的会众隔离了,但这场灵界风暴却一直没有止息。其实,我们可以肯定的说,“大驱逐”是一场属灵的大灾难,也是英国历史上一条清晰的、光暗的分界线,它负面的影响一直遗留至今。

 其中一位被撤职、名叫米德的牧师(Matthew Meade)论到“大驱逐”时,写道:“这个要命的日子,应该用漆黑的字,记在英国的日历上。”[1] 穆雷(Iain Murray)也描述那黑暗的日子所带来的后果,说:

 这两千人沉默之后,我们进入了一个讲台理性化、会众冷漠化的时代,在这段时期当中,怀疑主义和世俗主义大大地抬头,以致我们民族的信仰倒退到了一个模仿新约教会、徒有其表的可怜地步。 [2]

 自招咒诅

 马斯登(J. B. Marsden)把这事件看做在自招神的审判。他写道:

 如果把某些特定的事件,当作上帝不满的证据的话,那就显得太冒昧、太莽撞了;然而,没有人可以否认:一段长期间、接二连三的天灾人祸,清楚地表明神的恩惠已经撤离了一个国家或教会。在那两千名拒绝加入国教的清教徒被驱逐之后的五年之内,伦敦市几乎被夷为平地两次。 [3]

 他说的不错,“大驱逐日”发生在1662年的暑期。到了1665,一场鼠疫之灾袭击伦敦,夺去了十多万人的性命,相当于大约四分之一的人口。下一年,一场大火席卷了伦敦,烧毁了一万三千多间房子,还有将近一百座教堂,包括圣保罗大教堂,几乎将整座城市都摧毁了。许多历史学家同意马斯登(J.B. Marsden)的观点,这些灾祸是上帝对英国人不思悔改的报应。

 祸上加祸

 尽管如此,这些灾难不能与英国灵性上背道的后果相比,马斯登提及瘟疫与大火之后,继续说:“此外,还有更多、更长、更可怕的灾难接踵而来:即英格兰的教会几乎要绝种了;许多教区里,神的灯火都熄灭了。”  [4]

 莱尔(J. C. Ryle)在19世纪末担任达勒姆主教(bishop of Durham),如此总结英国圣公会(国教)因着不悔改所付出的重大属灵代价,他说:“我相信(大驱逐)对英国真正的敬虔所造成的灵性亏损是永远无法修补的。” [5] 的确,在随后的几百年当中,英国渐渐屈服于自由主义文化,全国都笼罩在属灵的黑暗与背道中,到处是死气沉沉又冷冰冰的教堂。

 仍旧说话

 尽管“统一法案”和“大驱逐日”导致了几个世纪的恶果,但英国国教仍然不能实现她统一的目标。虽清教徒打散了,但他们没有沉默。那许多从自己教会被驱逐的牧者,例如:巴克斯特(Richard Baxter),弗莱威尔(John Flavel),布鲁克斯(Thomas Brooks),沃森(Thomas Watson)等等属灵的伟人,至今仍影响深远,还在向我们说话。他们虽在1662年失去了教堂的讲台,但继续(不顾法令的禁止)忠心地传讲神的道,他们和许无名的传道人一起,不止息地揭露英国圣公会的腐败,并且劝勉众人悔改归正。

 一脉相承

        清教徒(Puritans)实在继承了一个世纪前开始的“改教者”(Reformers)的产业。那时,路德(Luther)、加尔文(Calvin)、丁道尔(Tindale)和其他16世纪关键的改教家们,一同参与了一场也许有史以来最浩大、集体的教会悔改运动。他们回应了神的呼召,因此,他们的讲道和教训改变了中世纪的天下,他们遗留的成果一直流传到今日。

      为此,我们下次将更深入地研究“宗教改革”(归正)运动(Protestant Reformation)。


 (改编自:基督的呼召:要改革教会)


—————–

原文如下:

The Danger of Calling the Church to Repent

 by John MacArthur

Monday, October 8, 2018

 Have you ever heard of a church that repented? Notindividuals, but an entire church that collectively recognized itscongregational transgressions and openly, genuinely repented, with biblicalsorrow and brokenness.

 Sadly, you probably have not.

 For that matter, have you ever heard of a pastor whocalled his church to repent and threatened his congregation with divinejudgment if they failed to do so?

 It’s not likely.

 Pastors today seem to have a hard enough time callingindividuals to repent, let alone calling the whole church to account for theircorporate sins. In fact, if a pastor were so bold as to lead his own church torepent, he might not be the pastor for much longer. At minimum, he would faceresistance and scorn from within the congregation. That inevitable backlash islikely strong enough to generate a kind of preemptive fear, keeping most churchleaders from ever considering a call for corporate repentance.

 On the other hand, if a pastor or church leader has thetemerity to call for another church—rather than his own—to repent, he willalmost certainly be accused of being critical, divisive, and overstepping hisauthority. He’ll face a chorus of voices telling him to mind his own business. Vilifyinghim, therefore, clears a path for the confronted church to sidestep hisadmonition altogether.

 The fact is, churches rarely repent. Churches that startdown a path of worldliness, disobedience, and apostasy typically move evenfurther from orthodoxy over time. They almost never recover their originalsoundness. Rarely are they broken over their collective sins against the Lord.Rarely do they turn aside from corruption, immorality, and false doctrine.Rarely do they cry out from the depths of their hearts for forgiveness,cleansing, and restoration. Most never even consider it, because they havebecome comfortable with their condition.

 In reality, calling the church to repent and reform canbe very dangerous. Church history is replete with examples.

 The Great Ejection

 The name “Puritan” was devised as a term of derision andscorn. It was applied to a group of Anglican pastors in England in thesixteenth and seventeenth centuries who sought to purify the church of itsremaining Roman Catholic influences and practices. These Puritan pastorsrepeatedly called for the churches of England to repent of their extensivecarnality, heresy, and priestly corruption. But the Anglican Church would notrepent. They could not deny the need for reformation, but they wanted a “middleway” rather than a thorough reformation.

 Those who held the reins in the Anglican hierarchyremained impenitent—but not passive. They were determined to silence the voicescalling them to repentance. For decades, the Puritans faced hostility andpersecution from church leaders and political rulers alike. Many suffered anddied for their faith, while many more endured imprisonment and torture for thesake of Christ. The persecution reached a crescendo in 1662, when the EnglishParliament issued the Act of Uniformity. The decree essentially outlawedanything other than strict Anglican doctrine and practice. That led to amonumental and tragic day in England’s spiritual history: August 24, 1662,commonly known as the Great Ejection. On that day, two thousand Puritan pastorswere stripped of their ordination and permanently thrown out of their Anglicanchurches.

 Those faithful Puritans understood that the Church ofEngland had to repent and reform before the nation would ever turn to Christ.But rather than reject their wickedness and corruption, the impenitent leadersof the Church of England attempted to silence anyone calling for repentance andrestoration.

 Subsequent history reveals that the Great Ejection was noisolated event with temporary significance. The spiritual turmoil did not endonce the Puritans were excommunicated and separated from their congregations.In fact, it’s safe to say that the Great Ejection was a spiritual disaster thatserves as a clear and dark dividing line in England’s history, and which hasimplications to the present day.

One of those ejected ministers was Matthew Meade.Concerning the Great Ejection, he wrote, “This fatal day deserves to be writtenin black letters in England’s calendar.” [1]Iain Murray describes the spiritual fallout of that dark day:

 After the silencing of the 2,000, we enter an age ofrationalism, of coldness in the pulpit and indifference in the pew, an age inwhich scepticism and worldliness went far to reducing national religion to amere parody of New Testament Christianity. [2]

 J. B. Marsden saw the event as an invitation for theLord’s judgment. He wrote,

 If it be presumptuous to fix upon particular occurrencesas proofs of God’s displeasure; yet none will deny that a long, unbroken,course of disasters indicates but too surely, whether to a nation or a church,that his favour is withdrawn. Within five years of the ejection of the twothousand nonconformists, London was twice laid waste. [3]

 He wasn’t wrong. The Great Ejection occurred in thesummer of 1662. In 1665, an epidemic of the bubonic plague struck London,killing more than 100,000 people, roughly one quarter of its population. Thefollowing year, a massive fire swept through London, incinerating more than13,000 homes, nearly a hundred churches—including St. Paul’s Cathedral—anddecimating most of the city. Many historians agreed with Marsden, viewing thosedisasters as divine retribution for England’s impenitence.

 Still, those disasters don’t compare to the spiritualconsequences of England’s apostasy. After citing the plague and the fire,Marsden continued, “Other calamities ensued, more lasting and far moreterrible. Religion in the church of England was almost extinguished, and inmany of her parishes the lamp of God went out.” [4]

 J. C. Ryle, who served as the bishop of Durham in thelate 1800s, summed up the spiritual cost of the Anglican Church’s impenitencethis way: “I believe [the Great Ejection] did an injury to the cause of truereligion in England, which will probably never be repaired.” [5] Indeed, over the centuries that followed,England has succumbed to a culture of liberalism, overrun with cold, deadchurches and awash in apostasy and spiritual darkness.

 And despite the centuries of foul fruit that sprang fromthe Act of Uniformity and the Great Ejection, the Church of England failed toachieve its primary goal. The Puritans were scattered, but not silenced. Manyof the men who were ejected from their churches went on to have influence thatcontinues to this day. Spiritual stalwarts such as Richard Baxter, John Flavel,Thomas Brooks, and Thomas Watson were among those who lost their pulpits in1662 but faithfully carried on as outlaw preachers. Along with many others,they continued to expose the corruption of the Anglican Church, calling for its repentance.

 The Puritans effectively carried on the legacy that beganwith the Reformers more than a century earlier. Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, andother key sixteenth-century Reformers participated in perhaps the greatestcorporate call to repentance the world has ever seen. Their preaching andteaching transformed the medieval world, and their legacy continues into the present.

 For that reason, we’ll take a closer look at theProtestant Reformation next time.


(Adapted from Christ’s Call to Reform the Church)

关于作者: 陈鸽

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