The Reformation – 500 Year Anniversary
Martin Luther is famously known for confronting practices of the Catholic Church that were moralistic, required penance payments for forgiveness, and acted as a powerful force over humankind. Indeed we must credit the Catholic Church, referred to as the Universal Church in times past, for preserving Biblical history, the foundations of the Christian faith and the saving act of Jesus Christ. It was the human approach taken, man making decisions, creating laws in God’s name, that Luther found in error. Christ provided the forgiveness humans require. It is not by man’s doing, any actions taken, or the blessings of a third party Priest that erases the evil in man. In fact, even according to Luther, nothing erases the evil of man.
It was the early 16th century in Germany, the borders of which at that time were quite different from today. It was the Holy Roman Empire. The bible was the Vulgate Bible, in Latin, used by the Catholic Church. The printing press was invented and in use in the mid-fifteenth century (1453) making access to important works of history possible by more people. The Ottoman empire was in full swing. Muslims wanted to enter Europe. Having failed to invade through Spain in the 8th century, they were poised to invade through Vienna.
A scholar at that time, Erasmus, researched Hebrew and Greek Biblical texts, original documents, to write a complete bible in Greek. In doing so he discovered passages at variance to that of the Vulgate Bible. To ‘do penance’ to achieve the Kingdom of God was not accurate, as the translation was to ‘repent.’ That was a significant departure from the practice of the Church. (Matthew 3:2)
Free Choice was also a troubled concept for Erasmus and Luther. Christ died for the sins of man. Does man then have a choice, to either accept Christ’s sovereign grace or reject it? Erasmus argued favoring mostly ‘yes,’ while Luther insisted that all humans are evil to the core, and nothing they can do can make them good. God’s Grace is not a choice. Erasmus is noted as saying, “I admit that many different views about free choice have been handed down from the ancients about which I have, as yet, no fixed conviction, except that I think there to be a certain power of free choice.” The debate issues are anthropology versus soteriology. (A blog to follow will discuss). That is the life of man, society and culture, versus man’s salvation.
Today is the anniversary date, October 31, the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther and the start of the Reformation. Today, “A powerful and corrupt church no longer dominates Europe. A powerful and corrupt European Union does. Muslim armies are no longer at the gates of Vienna, as they were in 1529. Now, terrorists are within the gates” (“Beyond sunny stories of how good we are,” World Magazine, 10/28/2017, by Olasky, Marvin).
Reform is needed today as much as then. European Churches need to awake. The alarm is blaring. Can they hear it?
There is an awareness of God and Christ’s death everywhere. Christ died on the Cross as punishment for the sins of mankind, all sins, past, present and future. We are sinners. Whether you are a Jew, Muslim, Christian, secularist, atheist, pagan, agnostic, and so on, you are human and humans sin. Evil reigns within. Placing all hopes in Christ alone will befall those who recognize and become aware of their inherent sin nature. Christ overcame death as well, rising to be with God, the Father. As one they descended as the Holy Spirit filling those who suddenly realize God’s Grace (sanctification). The transformation begins.
Grace and Peace