Perry Noble’s reformation apologists seem to be making three different defenses.
- He’s dumb. Don’t take him seriously.
- You misunderstood him. He didn’t really mean it.
- Yes, there is a reformation, and Perry’s our man.
I’m with the folk who pick option #3, but let’s deal with #2 for a minute. Has it all been a big misunderstanding? Let’s quickly review what he said:
We’re not seeing revival…I believe this is the beginning of a new reformation!!! The church has been a sleeping giant for too long!!!
When Noble said reformation, he meant reformation. Here’s how I can tell:
- It is not simply a revival. Noble was distinguishing between two different ideas. Revivals happen fairly frequently within a church or city, or less frequently on a national level, as with the Great Awakenings. Revivals don’t seem to significantly change the beliefs or practices of the church quite as much as reformations. They also don’t seem to endure as long as reformations do. Noble is trying to tell us that the enthusiasm he’s seeing is not just a flash in the pan. This is a Very Important Thing. (Curiously, his reference to waking a sleeping church actually fits best with a revival interpretation.)
- It is something new. He is not wanting to get back to the foundation laid by the original Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc). This is the beginning of a church epoch that has never been seen before. This is the part that, like I’ve said a few times, makes us nervous.
- He said it was a reformation. I am certain that he knows what that means. He just returned from a convention where he was rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs of the movement, of which he is himself an important leader. The reports from their meetings suggested that they were all convinced that they were leading a Very Important Thing. When one of their leaders says it’s a reformation, I don’t know why we’d doubt him.