Reformation Day

“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. *Here I stand for I can do no other.* God help me. Amen.”

Martin Luther

Reformers and Revivalists and Reconcilers

Luther-nailing-theses-560x538.jpgToday is Reformation Day.  501 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses, or statements to the door of Wittenburg Chapel.  While we might think that doing this on a church door would be an act of rebellion, it was more than that.  Some suggest that Martin Luther nailed the thesis on October 31 because the next day was All Saints Day.  (This is a day when we celebrate the saints that have gone on before – more on that tomorrow.)  This means that many people would see the statements and see what was going on.  You may remember that Martin Luther had several disagreements with the church.  We often think that he was a rebel.  Maybe he was, but maybe Luther was trying to affect change from the inside.  When Luther nailed these statements to the door, there was really only one church, even though it was divided into two – the east and the west. That schism happened in 1054.  So for a thousand years the church was one, and for 500 years the church was two, and then the Reformation happened and things went crazy.

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As I said, I really believe that Luther was trying to affect change from the inside – not so much a radical, but a reformer.  Over the last 500 years, we have seen this pattern – at least on our side of the church family tree.  The man who founded what is now known as the Methodists – John Wesley was a reformer.  Wesley had a life changing encounter with Jesus and God stirred his heart and a revival began in England.  Some scholars tell us that was one of the reasons that the UK avoided a revolution like what happened in France.  You may remember that Wesley was an Anglican priest, but because of his views and his attempt to affect change from the inside, Wesley too would be on the outside looking in.

Orange ScottThis pattern would repeat itself in the mid-1800’s as Orange Scott and Luther Lee – again would now try to affect change from inside the Methodist Episcopal Church.  These two “radicals” were trying to get the Methodist Episcopal Church to abolish slavery from among its members.  However the bishops weren’t so keen on splitting the body over the issue.  In 1843, Scott and Lee, tired of the issue, split ways with the Methodist Episcopal Church and formed the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion of America.

The Wesleyan Methodists were highly involved in the revivals of the late 19th Century.  There were campmeetings and revival fires burned.   What is interesting is that these Wesleyan Methodists were reformers.  They spoke out against slavery. They championed women’s rights.  The first women ordained in America was ordained by a Wesleyan Methodist even though she was not a Wesleyan.  It wasn’t long before the Wesleyan Methodists did ordain their first women.  For most of its history, the Wesleyan Church has ordained women.  The first national convention on women’s rights was held in a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Seneca Falls, NY.  Wesleyans were part of the Underground Railroad – even defying governmental orders to return escaped slaves.  Wesleyans were also fighting against the evils of alcohol. The holiness movement and the temperance movement were closely intertwined.  So the Wesleyans were reformers as were many of the holiness denominations.

Not only did the Wesleyans push for social reform, they pushed for heart transformation.  As a denomination, they were one of the first to put in their Discipline – their rulebook – a statement on holiness.  Look at this statement from our current discipline:

The Wesleyan Church has grown out of a revival movement which has historically given itself to one mission—the spreading of scriptural holiness throughout every land. The message which ignited the Wesleyan revival was the announcement that God through Christ can forgive men and women of their sins, transform them, free them from inbred sin, enable them to live a holy life, and bear witness to their hearts that they are indeed children of God. The message was based on the Scriptures, was verified in personal experience, and came not only in word but in the power of the Spirit. It was dynamic and contagious, and was communicated from heart to heart and from land to land.

I believe in all of this our Wesleyan founding fathers were about the business of reconciling people to God.  As I think about it, that should be the whole purpose of reformation and revival – to bring people back to God.  Listen to what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5 beginning in verse 17:

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

It was Luther who re-emphasized salvation by faith alone.  That was one of his grievances with the church. The church was saying that you could buy your way into heaven – that you could spring your dead relative from purgatory, simply by giving to the church. This is part of what Luther was arguing against.

So today we remember what Luther did 501 years today – to correct wrong teachings.  We must always guard against unbiblical teaching.  Sometimes we need to be reformers — Sometimes we need revival — sometimes we need to reconcile.  At the moment I think we need all three in our country.  My prayer since we moved to McCrae Brook is that God would bring revival (specifically) to McKean County, but also throughout our state and throughout our country and throughout the world.  My prayer is this: “Lord start revival and let it begin with me!”

500 Years of the Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  It is the day that Martin Luther took his 95 Theses and nailed them to the door of Wittenburg Chapel. It really did change the course of Christian history.  Martin Luther never intended to split the church – he did however want to reform the abuses that were happening within the church and that he did.

On this Reformation Day, I thought I would share some links, especially those from a Wesleyan perspective – on Reformation Day.  But before I do that, I want to share the Nicene Creed.  It it what Christ-followers around the world hold to be their core beliefs:

We believe in one God,
      the Father almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth,
      of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
      the only Son of God,
      begotten from the Father before all ages,
           God from God,
           Light from Light,
           true God from true God,
      begotten, not made;
      of the same essence as the Father.
      Through him all things were made.
      For us and for our salvation
           he came down from heaven;
           he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
           and was made human.
           He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
           he suffered and was buried.
           The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
           He ascended to heaven
           and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
           He will come again with glory
           to judge the living and the dead.
           His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the Lord, the giver of life.
      He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
      and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
      He spoke through the prophets.
      We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
      We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
      We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
      and to life in the world to come. Amen.

There are several videos available at Seedbed.com’s Seven Minute Seminary.  But I did want to embed this one in the blog. Here is the link to the rest:

Indiana Wesleyan professor Ken Schenck posted 95 Theses For The Church Today

As I close, I want to share Martin Luther’s famous quote from the Diet of Worms “Here I Stand.”

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”

A Mighty Fortress | Indiana Wesleyan Chorale

Today is October 31st – Reformation Day in some traditions.  In honor of that – since this is a Monday and I normally post a worship video, I’ll post a version of A Mighty Fortress is Our God by the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale.  Martin Luther wrote the hymn. Also here link to  a Seedbed article called 7 Quick Facts about the Protestant Reformation. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of Wittenburg Chapel.

Reformation Day

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Today is Reformation Day on the church calendar.  Today we remember that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis to the door of Wittenberg Church in response to errors that were currently in the church.  He did this not to start a new denomination, but to correct a movement.  As it is with most cases of inward reform, those trying to reform from the inside get kicked out.  So for 500 years the church was only two branches – Reformation is really the beginning of the multi-branch church.  That being said, I appreciate Martin Luther’s attempt to do a course correction.  One of the things that Martin Luther gave us – was to restore congregational singing in the church – the most famous of the hymns he gave us is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  I hope you enjoy the version below.

Reformation Day

Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå gallerix.ruWhile most the world knows today as Halloween, on the church calendar, today is All Hallow’s Eve.  This is an important link to All Saint’s Day and the Reformation.

From Wikipedia:

In 1516–17, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent to Germany to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The 95 Theses.[3] Hans Hillerbrand writes that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices, and the tone of the writing is accordingly “searching, rather than doctrinaire.” Hillerbrand writes that there is nevertheless an undercurrent of challenge in several of the theses, particularly in Thesis 86, which asks: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.” He insisted that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.

The sale of indulgences shown in A Question to a Mintmaker, woodcut by Jörg Breu the Elder of Augsburg, circa 1530. According to Philipp Melanchthon, writing in 1546, Luther “wrote theses on indulgences and posted them on the church of All Saints on 31 October 1517”, an event now seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation. Some scholars have questioned Melanchthon’s account, since he did not move to Wittenberg until a year later and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther’s posting of the theses. Others counter that such evidence is unnecessary because it was the custom at Wittenberg university to advertise a disputation by posting theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, also known as “Castle Church”.

As I was browsing through my feed reader today, I found several interesting articles on the Reformation and what it means to us today.

Ken Schenck – Quick Thoughts on the Reformation

The Gospel Coalition – Luther’s 95 Theses 

Reformation: Then and Now

See you tomorrow for All Saint’s Day

Reformation Day

180px-Luther46cToday is Reformation Day.  Today is the day that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel.

From Wikipedia:

Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses centers on practices within the Catholic Church regarding baptism and absolution. Significantly, the Theses rejected the validity of indulgences (remissions of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven). They also view with great cynicism the practice of indulgences being sold, and thus the penance for sin representing a financial transaction rather than genuine contrition. Luther’s Theses argued that the sale of indulgences was a gross violation of the original intention of confession and penance, and that Christians were being falsely told that they could find absolution through the purchase of indulgences.
All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Saxony, in the Holy Roman Empire, where the Ninety-Five Theses famously appeared, held one of Europe’s largest collections of holy relics. These had been piously collected by Frederick III of Saxony. At that time pious veneration of relics was purported to allow the viewer to receive relief from temporal punishment for sins in purgatory. By 1520 Frederick had over 19,000 relics, purportedly “including vials of the milk of the Virgin Mary, straws from the manger [of Jesus], and the body of one of the innocents massacred by King Herod.”

As part of a fund-raising campaign commissioned by Pope Leo X to finance the renovation of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest, began the sale of indulgences in the German lands. Albert of Mainz, the Archbishop of Mainz in Germany, had borrowed heavily to pay for his high church rank and was deeply in debt. He agreed to allow the sale of the indulgences in his territory in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. Luther was apparently not aware of this. Even though Luther’s prince, Frederick III, and the prince of the neighboring territory, George, Duke of Saxony, forbade the sale thereof in their respective lands, Luther’s parishioners traveled to purchase them. When these people came to confession, they presented their plenary indulgences which they had paid good silver money for, claiming they no longer had to repent of their sins, since the document promised to forgive all their sins. Luther was outraged that they had paid money for what was theirs by right as a free gift from God. He felt compelled to expose the fraud that was being sold to the pious people. This exposure was to take place in the form of a public scholarly debate at the University of Wittenberg. The Ninety-Five Theses outlined the items to be discussed and issued the challenge to any and all comers.

Here are the contents of the 95 Theses

Reformation Day

From Wikipedia:

In 1516–17, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.[1]

On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The 95 Theses. Hans Hillerbrand writes that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices, and the tone of the writing is accordingly “searching, rather than doctrinaire.”[2] Hillerbrand writes that there is nevertheless an undercurrent of challenge in several of the theses, particularly in Thesis 86, which asks: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”[2]

Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.”[3] He insisted that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.

The sale of indulgences shown in A Question to a Mintmaker, woodcut by Jörg Breu the Elder of Augsburg, circa 1530.

According to Philipp Melanchthon, writing in 1546, Luther “wrote theses on indulgences and posted them on the church of All Saints on 31 October 1517”, an event now seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation.[4] Some scholars have questioned Melanchthon’s account, since he did not move to Wittenberg until a year later and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther’s posting of the theses.[5] Others counter that such evidence is unnecessary because it was the custom at Wittenberg university to advertise a disputation by posting theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, also known as “Castle Church”.[6]

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press.[7] Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.

Luther’s writings circulated widely, reaching France, England, and Italy as early as 1519. Students thronged to Wittenberg to hear Luther speak. He published a short commentary on Galatians and his Work on the Psalms. This early part of Luther’s career was one of his most creative and productive.[8] Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German NationOn the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian.

From our bulletin insert on Sunday:

The legendary account tells us that one cool October 31st in 1517, the priest Martin Luther defiantly nailed his protest notice to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These Ninety-five Theses were a list of abuses and errors that he understood were a corruption of the purpose and mission of the Church. In reality, the Ninety-five Theses were most likely sent to his Archbishop. And the list was not really a defiant protest as much as it was a sincere call for the Church to begin addressing some of its problems that Luther felt had obscured the Gospel message.

In any case, Luther hoped that his Theses would be seen and discussed as a step toward renewal of the Church, so that people might know the truth about God’s forgiveness for their lives. The powerful passage from Romans 3:19-28 had fired his soul and he was so overflowing with joy after years of guilt and a need for forgiveness that he had to share the truth with all that he could. Little did he know the enormous impact on the world that his one simple act would have. His willingness to stand up to pope and emperor in the name of the Gospel of Christ changed the face of history, and the face and direction of the entire Christian Church.

Today we celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in our Church and our hearts. It is this movement of the Holy Spirit that brings us newness and renewal, both in our personal lives and in the life of the Church. When we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!” we know that the whole Church is always in need of reform, and we each are always in need of dying again in Christ in order to be raised from the dead, so that we might be truly free by the grace of Jesus the Christ in our lives and Church. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-36)

For the next two Sundays our sanctuary will be decorated in Red which symbolizes the Holy Spirit and is the color of Pentecost. Red also represents fire and is associated with power and importance. Crimson red also symbolizes the presence of God and the blood of martyrs and is used on Sundays of great importance to the church.

As we worship today, especially in light of our current sermon series “Not A Fan,” let us remember to ask the Holy Spirit to work in us—to renew the work of God in us and in our hearts and to become a:

FULLY . COMMITTED . FOLLOWER