Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

(This is a repeat from last year)

Many in our country celebrate today with cries of “Trick or Treat.” For Christians, the more significant cry should be “sola Scriptura.” On this date in 1517, Martin Luther, a young Augustinian monk, posted his “95 Thesis” on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church (this is probably apocryphal, but the door posting idea has survived). The resulting controversy over Luther’s opinions regarding the sale of indulgences led to what would be later known as the Protestant Reformation. As can be seen in the “95 Thesis,” Luther had no intention of creating a schism within his Church – he merely wanted to correct what he considered to be the bad theology practiced by those who did not understand canon law. In reality, it was Luther who naively misunderstood the furor that his thesis would cause. It was not so much theology at stake (for the Roman Church, that is), but power and money.

The essence of the Reformation is Luther’s insistence upon the authority of Scripture. Of course, his emphasis upon justification by faith alone (sola fide) is key; but this flows from his view of the sufficiency and primacy of the Bible’s teaching over the opinions of men. This is the relevance of the Reformation today.

For the world at large, people who believe in and take the Bible seriously are considered dangerous but probably not for the same reasons that Luther was considered dangerous. Those who actually believe the Bible are accused of endorsing book burning, Usher’s date of creation (4004 BC), and discrimination against any kind of people they don’t like. Nonetheless, the church must return to the principle of sola Scriptura. Thankfully, there are encouraging tokens of this. The very real shame is among those who profess to believe the Bible but do not honor or regard the Bible in the life or methodology of the church. There are churches that still covet the label “Fighting Fundamentalist,” yet one is hard pressed to hear the Bible capably and systematically taught or expounded. Scripture is preached about, but not always proclaimed.

On this Reformation Day, may we once again renew our appreciation for and determination to live by the holy Word of God.

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