Reformation Day Round-up

494 years ago yesterday, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg. He had no idea at the time, but that was to be the beginning of something big. Luther's announcement of a debate ended up sparking the Reformation, which is why the 31st October is remembered as Reformation Day.

Rather than retell the story yesterday, I thought I'd wait until today and point you in the direction of some of the good things that have been written elsewhere to mark Reformation Day this year (with a few comments thrown in along the way).

The Reformation isn't just history. It's lessons still need to be applied today. And for three good ways to apply some lessons of the Reformation today, have a look at 3 Ways to make the Reformers proud (Clint Archer,  The Cripplegate). Here's a quick summary (but this is just to make you want to read the original!):-

1. Read more Bible than blogs! After all, the Reformation was all about getting back to the Bible rather than what people say about the Bible. (I like the bit where he says 'If you quoted Calvin in a debate on Election, he would slap you.')

2. Use your Latin! - Sounds strange, but it's actually got nothing to do with a dead language. A few extracts to clarify:-
'Well, not actual Latin. What I mean is that we should be familiar with whatever medium or forum in which doctrine is currently discussed.'
'Today, there is no way anyone with a modem or smartphone can plead ignorance. To be in the dark today is a matter of negligent stewardship.'
'Make sure you are not unplugged from the matrix of theological understanding due to laziness.' 
3. Don't go back to Rome! Evangelicals seem to be more and more forgetful of what our differences with the Roman Catholic Church are. Archer encourages us to read what Rome actually teaches, see how far off it really is. 'It will make you love Jesus more, and it will make you run far from Rome on your way to the cross in gratitude for grace by faith alone.'

A must read for Pentecostals and Charismatics is a list of needed reforms for the charismatic movement (J. Lee Grady, Charisma). Inspired by Luther's list of needed reforms, Grady points to some of the abuses that seem more and more prominent within certain charismatic circles (which are, unfortunately, probably the most visible charismatic circles). But his points aren't simply pot-shots at disgraced/disgraceful tele-evangelists, but actually widespread issues that need to be faced head-on. He has 15 demands,all with brief explanations. I'll just tell you what the first few are to whet your appetite, but you'll have to read the article to see the explanations and the rest of the list.

1. Let’s reform our theology. 2. Let’s return to the Bible. 3. It’s time for personal responsibility. 4. Stop playing games. 5. Stop the foolishness. 6. End all spiritual extortion now... 

I think I'll do a bit of interacting with Grady's reforms later in the week.

Carl Trueman has pointed out the insight from the Reformation that's been largely forgotten today. Focusing on Luther's concept of being a theologian of the cross, Trueman warns that 'A person's theology, whether true or false, good or bad, is inseparable from the individual's personal faith.'
And here's his application to the contemporary church:-
'At this Reformation season, we should not reduce the insights of Luther simply to justification by grace through faith. In fact, this insight is itself inseparable from the notion of that of the theologians of the cross. Sad to say, it is often hard to discern where these theologians of the cross are to be found. Yes, many talk about the cross, but the cultural norms of many churches seem no different to the cultural norms of -- well, the culture. They often indicate an attitude to power and influence that sees these things as directly related to size, market share, consumerist packaging, aesthetics, youth culture, media appearances, swagger and the all-round noise and pyrotechnics we associate with modern cinema rather than New Testament Christianity.'

Finally, Matthew Barrett gives a warning (at the Gospel Coalition): Abandon the Reformation, Abandon the Gospel. Barrett's article gives a brief history of the beginning of the Reformation, highlights the key issues and shows how important they are for us today. 'It is not about Luther; it is about the Gospel.'

And, after reading all those articles, here's a contemporary worship song that focuses on the 5 solas of the Reformation:
Sola, by Zac Hicks

Soli Deo Gloria!