~ Pastor Robert Fleischmann
On All Saints Eve (October 31) the Church on earth (not just Lutherans) will begin a yearlong celebration of the quincentennial (500th) anniversary of the Reformation. On that date in 1517 Martin Luther posted 95 concerns he had about what was going on in “the Church.” At best the historical occasion gets a passing comment in secular classrooms. Historians, however, recognize it as a watershed moment in the history of the Christian faith.
The passage of time, however, fostered myths about the Reformation. Let’s handle those:
1. Nailing 95 theses was an act of rebellion and vandalism
The village church was the center of community life and its wooden doors were a primary communication tool of the time. We don’t know for certain but chances are there were other notices posted on those doors when Luther posted his theses.
2. Luther set out to leave the church and start a new denomination
Wrong! Luther saw practices and teachings that seemed contrary to Scripture. His goal was to call them out so that they can be discussed and corrected.
3. Luther named the new church after himself
Nope! Luther did not like people calling themselves “Lutherans.” Again, the goal was “reform” not separation.
4. Lutherans really worship Luther
Definitely not! Martin Luther was a gifted intellect and theologian but is not the object of our worship nor was he perfect. He wasn’t right on everything. He was, however, right on many things.
The Reformation pointed people heavenward and into God’s word for answers. The Reformation was actually a “restoration” of the Biblical truth that we are declared just or right in the eyes of God because of what Jesus Christ did for our sins. We don’t earn it nor is it bestowed on us because of our stellar character. Rather, the Reformation revived the Biblical teaching that we are saved entirely by God’s undeserved love (grace) and not by anything we do (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Reformation reminds us that when we take our eyes off the revealed word of God we are inclined to theologically drift. It happened then, it happens now, and it can happen to us. For that reason we keep the word of God front and center in all that we do. Therein lies truth!
We thank God for Martin Luther and the other reformers who pointed us back to Scripture to find answers to life’s great questions. It is our prayer that despite many temptations we remain vigilant in our allegiance to God and his word.
To God’s glory,
In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. ~ I Peter 1:3