Today in 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the door of Wittenburg Castle Church. Those these sparked a revolution in the church. There was all kinds of abuse happening in the church and Martin Luther sought to reform the church from within. When he became too dangerous to the power structure of the church, they threw him out and even tried to kill him.
Some may wonder why I even bring this up. I heard a quote not too long ago about the church:
A church without a history, is a church without a future.
Another quote that goes along with that is: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
I live in a house full of history buffs. Pam loves history and so does Rebecca. She especially loves church history. This morning on Facebook her status reflected today’s significance. There are times that the church likes to conveniently forget its history. But we can’t do it. We find ourselves making the same mistakes over and over again. It was interesting to be in Roanoke a few weeks ago with Dr. Bob Black, who taught us about eccesiology, or the study of the church. What is the church’s mission? How has that played out historically?
Several things came about as a result of Martin Luther’s protest. First, there was a return to scriptural authority — sola scriptura. Then there was the “radical” concept of “salvation by faith by grace alone”. I love how Dr. Black dealt with the tension of a corporate church – the body of Christ and yet a personal faith. Luther also brought to us worship services in the common language — everything had been in Latin up to that time and it was not a common language anymore. So the people just observed worship. He brought back congregational singing — singing and musicianship had been given completely over to the professionals.
Martin Luther was a reformer — he didn’t set out to cause a revolution — he didn’t set out to start a new church or the churches that followed it, but he wanted to be a man of God — who followed the scriptures. In our own tradition, we have those who never set out to part from the churches they were part of. John Wesley never intended to start the Methodist Episcopal church. He wanted to reform the church from the inside, but was kicked out. Orange Scott never intented to start the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, but was kicked out of the Methodist Episcopal Church. These men understood that the church should always be looking at its mission in light of scripture. That’s a great thought. How are we doing? How is the church doing with its mission in light of what scripture tells us? Blessings…