King James, Geneva and The Second Reformation

It is time for a Second Reformation because of the unfinished work of the Reformation.  And the unfinished work is the battle between King James and his Bible and the Geneva reformers and their Bible. 

We are in the flow of world history at the same junction that Martin Luther, John Calvin and the reformers faced in 1517....and now 500 years later it is time to get the job done otherwise we head into a new dark age of world collapse.

By 1517 the world was sick and tired of Feudalism and a popular uprising needed leaders, a vision and a way out.  In 2017 the world is sick and tired of Neo-Feudalism and the common people are revolting around the world....and they are looking for leaders, a vision and a way out.

In my previous blogs I have been laying the groundwork for the vision of a new second Reformation in this historic 500th year anniversary of the Reformation. My arguments are basically....look at the world economic, political, cultural systems, demographics, ecologies and assume that Jesus is not coming back soon to rescue us....now make trend lines and your inevitable result is what is called a Seneca Collapse, the rapid collapse of a complex world into a new dark age.

This was basically the state of the world economy in what historians call the Dark Ages of the Middle Ages. 

The other analysis that also needs to be done is the other part of the Feudalism of 1517 which was the state of the Church....meaning the Catholic Church.  And although our evangelical movement world wide is a vibrant growing world phenomenon....the way we define "Church" and the way we practice Church is in need of drastic reformation if we are to meet the challenges of our time.

And this is what the Reformation did and it changed the entire social, political and economic structure of the world. And that is why I am calling for a Second Reformation because it is time for the complete overhaul of the world economic, political and cultural order.

Let me illustrate the core issue at stake from the battle between King James and his Bible and the reformers of Geneva and their Bible.

The Reformation was launched in 1517 by Martin Luther and his battle against the Catholic church. The essential issue was this: You do not need the church to dispense salvation to you...you are justified by faith alone and the second essential point was the priesthood of the believer...each believer had access to God without intermediaries such as Mary or the saints or the need for the church to sell you the stored up grace of the saints which they alone could dispense through the sale of indulgences.

The two pillars of the Feudal world order that enslaved humanity in the Dark Ages was the Catholic Church and the system of Monarchy (kings, lords, knights etc).

Martin Luther destroyed the one pillar, the power and authority of the Catholic Church through his prolific tracts and books coming off the latest technology of the day, the Gutenberg Press...and for a hundred years his writings were the best sellers of the day making printers and book sellers rich.

The other pillar of the Feudal establishment was the power of the monarchy.  All power was vested in the monarch and he delegated that power and authority downward.  His word was law.....until John Calvin and the Geneva church.

In 1535 the city of Geneva declared independence from the Duchy of Savoy and also said they were a Protestant republic.  In 1535 a 26 year old lawyer John Calvin wrote the first outline for a Protestant systematic theology called the Institutes of the Christian Religion. 

By 1541 Geneva was chaotic and lawless and so they called John Calvin to come and take over.  Calvin wrote The Ecclesiastical Ordinances of Geneva in 1541 and in doing so declared the city of Geneva to be a church in the Biblical sense of the world....as in the Church of Geneva. He set up a four fold government structure of pastors, elders, teachers and deacons  that regulated the daily life of Geneva with regard to law, dress code, education of children, care for the sick and elderly, rules of commerce etc. Protestants from all over Europe flocked to this new Protestant Rome. Calvin ordered the main industry of Geneva, jewellery manufacture, to stop making useless worldly adornments and start making useful things like watches.  Watches were the high tech computer industry of that day and Protestants became the world leaders in high tech. 

In 1559 Geneva established the Academy...a world class centre of learning for Protestant scholars where everything was studied...Greek philosophy, maths, science, theology.

In 1560 the Academy produced their revolutionary Geneva Bible.  A new modern translation of the Bible with an exciting new addition....marginal notes to explain difficult passages of scripture for the layman.  And here is where the revolution against the Monarchy system started and spread throughout all Europe...the margin notes of the Geneva Bible.

In those margin notes were two revolutionary ideas from scripture that caused kings like king James of England to ban the importation of the very popular Geneva Bible. The English reformers saw a loophole in the law and instead imported the margin notes of the Bible and spread those around.

The content of the Geneva Bible margin notes were so explosive and subversive to king James that upon his accession to the throne in 1604 he ordered an immediate assembly of the best scholars of England to produce an alternate translation of the Bible which became the famous 1611 King James Bible. But it was not famous then...in fact for at least 80 years it was ignored and the Geneva Bible was still the favourite.

So what was the subversive message in the Geneva Bible margin notes that caused kings to tremble?  Well a clue is found in the orders that James gave the scholars.  They were not allowed to have margin notes in the Bible and they were not allowed to translate the Greek word "ekklesia" as "congregation", it must be translated as "church".

You see the radical Geneva margin notes explained two things the kings of the time hated.  They explained in Old Testament margin notes that the kings of Israel were not supreme...they were subject to law.  King James and his autocrats held fast that he is God's anointed and he is the supreme law. It is this argument in the Geneva Bible notes arguing for the rule of law as opposed to the supreme rule of the king as law that gave the entire enlightenment that followed its cause and basis for appeal....the Bible says kings are subject to law...the law of God.  And it is this basic foundation of the rule of law that western civilization could flourish.

The second great subversive idea in the Geneva margin notes was their interpretation of "ekklesia".  The Geneva academy had Greek scholars.  They knew from the writings of Plato, especially his book "The Republic", what the Greek word "ekklesia" meant.  They knew that Athens was an "ekklesia".  They knew why Paul wrote to the "ekklesia" of Ephesus or Corinth.  They knew the difference in the New Testament between a "synagogue" (Greek meaning "coming together") and "ekklesia" meaning a city state of sovereign people coming together to create a unique community governed by themselves under the rule of law.

And that how they organized the city of Geneva....as a New Testament model of a Biblical "ekklesia".  In England as in Germany the state had captured the Reformation movement under their control.  The king of England made himself the head of the church as in the German states the Lutheran movement was captured when the pastors were put on state payroll.  King James forbade the interpretation of "ekklesia" as a community of believers, which the word "congregation" or "gemeente" was in those days...it had to be interpreted as a Sunday morning meeting....which "church" was in those days.

Eventually the Geneva vision of the community of believers coming together to create the City of God, ruled by the law of the Word of God was lost and captured by the state.  Except for a group called "the Puritans"...called so because they rejected the idea of the world culture and the church as part of the state apparatus and the world system. They dreamed of a life and a community ruled by the Law of God.

So they packed up from England and Holland and Germany and headed for the wild wilderness of the American continent there to establish a new world order, the Kingdom of God on earth.  It started with the Mayflower Compact and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and spread to other colonies like the Quaker settlement of Pennsylvania of William Penn.

But this vision of the shining city on hill, the community of believers ruled by the law of God was lost in the Masonic coup of 1789 when the Masonic lodges of America captured the states and colonies and roped them into their own vision of a New World Order.

And here we are 500 years later in the midst of a New Feudalism with the people subjugated by a new financial and political elite. All over the world though the masses are restless and rising up.

Where is the vision of the Church?  Where are the Calvin's and Luther's?  Where are the Geneva Ordinances of Ecclesiastical life for our times?

Instead I see the American evangelicals hailing Donald Trump as the saviour of the American Republic.  Really? In Europe it is Marine Le Pen and other nationalists.

Here in South Africa the great hope for reform is Cyril in the ANC or the DA.

Where is the Church in all this?  Where is the vision for the Church as the city of God?

So here is my prediction:  All these so called political saviours and their political and economic solutions are going to fail.  In America, in Europe, in South Africa....

After the coming collapse there will come a new vision for the Second Reformation and the unfinished work of the Geneva Reformation which is this:

The world can only be run on the basis of the rule of law....God's law.  That law can only be operated by people who have been born again and have the law of God in their hearts.  The Church is not a meeting on Sunday morning but an assembly and community of people who implement the law of God in their society and subject their economy, their culture and their way of life to the law of God and by doing so disicple the nations of the world into the Kingdom of God.

As we progress further into the Reformation anniversary I will give you some of my practical ideas of how we define the law structure of God and how we implement it as a people of God.

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