The Reformation and the Restoration: A Tale of Two Movements

Martin Luther and Alexander Campbell

The New Testament repeatedly warns about drifting; in particular, drifting away from the faith. This can be done either individually or collectively.

  • The Hebrew writer warned the Christians to whom he wrote that they “must pay much closer attention to what [they had] heard, so that [they would] not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
  • The Lord Himself rebuked the church in Ephesus because they had “left [their] first love” (Revelation 2:4).

There is always a danger that any one of us – or any one of our churches – could drift away from the faith. However, Paul also warned about a great apostasy that was coming not long after his lifetime.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the return of Christ, as] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5).

Paul explained that this “mystery of lawlessness [was] already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). As he described this “man of lawlessness,” he was not referring to one person, but an attitude. This apostasy would take place over some period of time. It was a spirit of error, an attitude that led Christians to depart from the pattern revealed in the New Testament. It was “restrained” for a time (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) by the persecution from the Roman authorities. However, once that opposition was removed, the departures from the faith would increase exponentially.Continue Reading

The Source of Authority


It is important that we have the proper source of authority in religion. If we do not, the result is apostasy. Disobedience is when we do not do everything “in word or deed…in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17) but by other standards of authority as well. Division comes when we do not “all speak the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

We see this problem when we look at “church history.” When I use this term (church history), I am not referring to the history of the Lord’s church from its establishment on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to the present day. I am using it as most use it – as the history of denominations that claim or have claimed to follow Christ. Throughout this history, apostasy came as the result of people not following the proper source of authority.
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