Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | November 30, 2008

Key Points of the Neo-Reformation

I believe that we are living at a theological turning point, a time of change that will be comparable to the reforms of the 4th, 11th, and 16th centuries in its significance for the world and the Church. I’ve taken to calling it the neo-reformation, and thus the name of this blog.

Of course there’s no way to know if I’m right. Every generation probably feels that it is living through momentous, world changing events, and to some degree every generation is.

As I look around modern, American Christianity I think I see a revolution taking place. It began in the academy in the 20th century, with Karl Barth, T.F. Torrance, and others. It has spread to the clergy in the last few decades, and now the whole Church is beginning to be engaged.

Here are three theological issues that I believe are characteristic of this neo-reformation:

1. The Trinity is the Gospel. We are coming to see that the heart of the good news that Jesus brings us is the good news that God is not a distant, unitarian being primarily defined by his “omni’s” (e.g. omnipotence). Instead he is loving and joyful relationship as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This relationality is the most important description we can offer of him. It is good news for us because it means we are made in the image, and included in, loving relationship. Which leads to point two:

2. The plan of God is Adoption. The Father created humanity in the Son, by the Spirit, in order to adopt us into the perfect loving relationship he shares with the Son and the Spirit. When the Son became flesh, as the man Jesus, this plan of adoption was accomplished.

3. Adoption includes everyone. Since the whole human race, and the whole creation, exists in and through the Son (John 1:3-4, Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:3) it means that all humanity, and the whole creation, has been reconciled to the Father in Jesus (Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:20). When Jesus died, humanity died (2 Cor. 5:14) and when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven humanity rose with him (Eph. 2:6).

To me, these three points go the heart of what it is that the Holy Spirit is changing and reforming in the Church of the 21st century. The Spirit is calling us back to the Biblical and Patristic understanding of Christ as the central definition of all reality.



  1. These are very pregnant thoughts, and I would be interested in hearing more. Perhaps you can unpack each of your points in following posts.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! I will definitely be writing more on these points in the weeks to come.

  3. Oh, how simple, succinct and clear are you able to communicate the heart of the Gospel message! Right on! So pregnant with the Truth of Jesus (as said above) and already Birthed in Him at His Father’s will in the Power of the Spirit!

    I can’t verify the accuracy of such a reformation as you describe either, but something is up and it HAS TO BE HUGE because it involves the Father, Son and Spirit IN US!

    As an Evangelical pastor, I have been gathering in prayer groups, meeting in stadiums, fasting in conference rooms and gathering regularly with other believers in prayer, FOR 12 YEARS, BECAUSE we all have sensed that there is something more to know and be experienced in Christ and we ain’t quite “seein’ and feelin’ it” even in the Church!

    Perhaps we are now seeing more clearly Who it was that was moving in us to pray, in order to answer those prayers in His own time and way – OUR TIME IN HIS WAY!!! Let it be Lord Jesus!!

  4. Your thoughts, words and perspectives are instrumental in growing in the grace and knowledge [and passion] of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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