Do you know about the Reformation? It was 500 years ago this month that a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his NineyFive Theses to to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany in protest of what the Roman Catholic church was teaching regarding salvation and a host of other issues. Thus began the Protestant Reformation.
In all honesty, I did not even know what the Reformation even was until college. Maybe I was taught in high school and just didn’t realize the significance or importance of this cataclysmic time in history. But this time no doubt shaped history and no doubt has implications for us today.
What is a Protestant? Protestant simply comes from the word to protest. In church history we speak of those who are Protestant versus those who were Roman Catholic. To be Protestant was to protest the teachings and government of THE Church at that time, Roman Catholic.
What was the Reformation? A reformation is simply to reform or change something. The Protestant Reformation was brought about by various Reformers throughout Europe in the 1500‘s to change the Church. The fathers of the Protestant Reformation did not set out to start a new church but they wanted to reform it.
The Protestant Reformation began in Western Europe during the 16th century (the early 1500s). When we think about the Protestant Reformation, we may think about certain men who have been recorded in history books as heroes and founders of the Reformation – men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and Ulrich Zwingli (being some of the more famous men of church history).
As stated above, the Protestant Reformation was one of the most important events to happen in the history of the world after the birth of Christ. Even today, we sit in local churches and study the Scriptures and proclaim the centrality of Christ because of the Reformation. The Reformation has had HUGE implications for the way we live our lives and practice our doctrine TODAY!
Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, the Reformation has lost its prominence in historical literature as things like the Renaissance and the Enlightenment have been given more ink (or pixels). Regardless of how finite of a topic it was for you in grade school, the Reformation was very important in history. It literally did changed the world!
Those of us who know very little about church history must see that the Reformation was more than a romanticized story about Martin Luther nailing his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The Reformation was a movement of the Holy Spirit that would sweep the globe.
However, Luther’s brave act would become symbolic of what God was doing through the Reformation. Terry Johnson recounts this famous event for us:
On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ or ‘Complaints’ against abuses in the church of his day. His complaints, which were actually a call for reform, were quickly copied and distributed, first throughout Germany, and then all of Europe. Unwittingly, Martin Luther (1483-1546) had started a revolution, called the Protestant Reformation, which would forever alter the face of Western Civilization, and through it, the world.
I hope that you will take some time this month to learn about the Reformation and praise God for it. Pastor Russ is leading a wonderful class on the Reformation during our Wednesday night Foundations program. He has recruited some excellent teachers to assist him.
Also, on Sunday, October 29th, 6:00pm at Southwood Presbyterian Church, many churches from our presbytery will gather to worship together and celebrate God’s amazing grace to His Church through the Reformation. The Session would like to encourage everyone to attend this wonderful time of worship and fellowship.
See you Sunday!
by His grace and to His praise,