Thanking God for the Reformation
Part 2 - Reformation Is Born
The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.
Change is gathering apace and we now see a great split. A split from within the Roman Catholic Church – the beginnings of the Protestant Church. Our main person we will look at is Martin Luther – one of the very giants of Church history.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Luther was the Professor of Biblical Studies at Wittenberg University in Germany. Luther tried to find God as an Augustinian monk but he was unable to come to terms with God's righteous demands. He eventually realised through prayer and reading the Scriptures, that he could do nothing of his own to fulfil or satisfy God’s righteous demands upon him. He came to see that justification before Almighty God was by faith alone, through grace alone, which was a gift of God.
Included in the aftermath of this discovery, were these key dates and events as the Reformation of Christianity and the Church gathered pace.
1517: Luther’s 95 Theses, statements against indulgences were nailed to the Castle Church door at Wittenberg on 31st October He rapidly gained a following in Germany, and was aided by the advent of the printing press.
1519: Luther publicly denied the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope and Church.
1520: Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X
1521: Diet Of Worms. Luther was outlawed by Emperor Charles V of Spain. He was hidden by friends for 8 months, during which he translated the New Testament into German.
1528: Diet Of Spruger. A change in German law allowed each German State to follow the religion of its reigning prince. Once announced, change of religion was forbidden.
1529: Diet Of Speyer. Decides the Lutheran states were to remain Lutheran and the Catholic states to remain Catholic; not allowed to change. Evangelical princes protested at the restriction and the name Protestant was given to this movement.
1530: Diet Of Augsburg. Protestants submitted a statement of belief which was rejected, but became the basis of Lutheran doctrine.
1547: war broke out between Catholic and Protestant states. This war was won by the Catholics, but Protestantism was finally recognised legally in 1552.
There were 3 main truths resulting from this Reformation which we hold fast today in general in large parts of the Church, particularly Protestantism:
- Final authority of God's Word
- Justification by faith, a gift of God's grace
- The priesthood of all believers.
Lutheranism spread from Germany to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. However, having said that, it should be noted that, wrongly or rightly, Luther still accepted as truth the following theological standpoints:
- Consubstantiation - a 'real presence' of Christ's body with bread and wine though not that the bread actually became His body. As opposed to transubstantiation held by the Roman Catholic Church which says the bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus.
- Infant baptism as necessary for salvation.
We may get the idea that this man was dour and humourless. However, he maintained a sense of humour and obviously like laughing. An indication of that, is in this quote attributed to him:
“If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there.”
Tomorrow in part 3, we will look at Luther's 95 Theses...