THE DEFICIENCY OF THE REFORMATION
A. The Recovery of Faith
without a Clear Understanding of Justification
In Luther, we see the recovery of faith. However, Luther did not recover justification by faith. He only recovered faith, and he was not so clear concerning justification. History tells us that he once punished himself in order to be justified. In Rome, he once climbed up to a cathedral step by step in order to be justified. Later, he saw that a man is not justified by works, but by faith.
B. Bringing In National Churches
Luther came out of Babylon, but he did not return to Jerusalem yet. He brought politics into the church and thought that by so doing, it would help the church. Little did he realize that no political power can help the church. On the contrary, any political power will only damage the church. In the end, the national churches were formed. The national churches are partnerships between politicians and believers. The one contributed Germany whereas the other contributed the doctrines, and the result was the national churches. In Germany, the Lutheran church became the national church. The reason the Lutherans embraced the power of politics was that Roman Catholicism was too strong. But by so doing, what we see was a change of nationality instead of a change of the church. The church was changed from a Roman church to a German church. In England, it became the Anglican church. Every Englishman automatically became a member of the Anglican church. As soon as a person was born, he was baptized in the church. No question was asked as to whether or not such a person was regenerated. The only thing that mattered was whether or not such a person was an Englishman. As long as a person was an Englishman and was born in England, he was a member of the church. Consequently, the tradition of infant baptism by sprinkling became very prevailing.
THE RAISING UP OF INDEPENDENT CHURCHES
With the rising up of the national churches, many pure seekers and lovers of the Lord became dissatisfied. They did not want to remain in the national churches. As a result, some independent free churches were formed. Soon after the Reformation, there were over two thousand independent churches. In Switzerland alone, there were over two hundred such churches. During this period of time, the Roman Catholic church persecuted the Protestant churches, and the Protestant churches in turn persecuted the smaller independent churches. To stop these small churches from being established, the English Parliament even passed a law to unify all the churches in England. However, this produced the so-called Nonconformists. They were faithful lovers of the Lord raised up by Him, who would not cooperate with the national churches. The government persecuted them and ordered them to take jobs five miles away from their former places of occupation. They could not work for the government, and all of them who were government officers were removed from their posts. Those who opposed the law were condemned.
THE RECOVERY OF THE EQUALITY OF BELIEVERS
AND THE TRUTH OF BAPTISM
After this, there were the Mennonites, who were the first group of believers to realize the error of a hierarchy. Among them, they recovered the title of "brothers," and they addressed each other as brothers. Some of them went to Russia to preach the gospel. In addition to them, the Baptists were also raised up. They saw the error of infant baptism, and they taught that a man must first be clear about the truth of baptism before he can be baptized. They were called the Anabaptists, and they were much persecuted at the beginning. These are recoveries of the outward things.
THE RECOVERY OF THE INNER LIFE
In addition, there was the recovery of the inner life. Madame Guyon, Father Fenelon, and others brought in a recovery of the spiritual condition. These ones are now generally called the mystics. They practiced denying their self, joining themselves with God to oppose their self, giving no excuse to the self, and not asking God to spare His hand on them. In every age, we can find followers of their practice. In addition to these, there were also the Pietists and the Quietists.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 43, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)