Happy Reformation Day!

Things are busy today, but I cannot take my mind off this Reformation Day. It’s a day too important to let pass unmentioned.

Specifically, I am most thinking of the fallout of the Reformation. Often with the Reformation, we think about Luther with hammer in hand, denouncing the false practices of Rome. But what we often fail to remember are the major shifts that were required in the years following such a traumatic event.

What I am talking about was the dawning of a new day of Scriptural study. Sure Calvin and Luther came to understand that justification – a sinner being made right with God – came only through faith and not through any righteous merits or religion on the part of the sinner (Luke 18). But there were many, many more doctrines to hash out.

The Reformers, having been educated with a Roman Catholic background were taught “doctrine” that had been passed down from the church fathers through the centuries which had snowballed into Roman Catholic tradition and dogma. But the Reformation changed all this.

Scripture alone must determine doctrine, and while we take this for granted in Reformed circles today, this point opened up a million questions. Questions of hermeneutics – how we interpret Scripture – had to be defined. What is literal interpretation? How many interpretations of Scripture are allowed? Every doctrine passed down through the centuries now must be tested and tried before a literal interpretation of the biblical text. The study of original texts became vital – Greek and Hebrew became significant objects of study for the church. Trying to take the exegetical conclusions and formulate them into creeds and catechisms became a high priority. Commentators began working through the text and the church began discussing and debating these issues to renounce false doctrines from the past and discover new doctrines largely undiscovered in God’s Word.

For me, when I think of Reformation Day I am most reminded of men who transitioned from the classical Roman Catholic training towards a new avenue of undiscovered and undefined study of God’s Word.

The fall-out of the Reformation lives on today each time a new commentary is published seeking to discover more of God’s Word in its original languages, in the tightening of Creeds and doctrine and in our pursuit of the meaning of God’s Word in a literal interpretation of the text. This is why I celebrate Reformation Day.

Posted on October 31, 2006, in Martin Luther, Reformation Day. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I notice you drink deeply from the writings of the Puritans that the Reformers. I might suggest you read the 1-3 century Church Fathers. I believe you will find it most enlightening.

  2. My experience with the early fathers is that of an undeveloped theology largely resting upon philosophical principles. Some of the writers, like Augustine, have some good content to add, but theology does not begin developing well until post-Augustine. When you get into Calvin/Turretin and the Reformation and Post-Reformation Puritans you begin reading highly developed theology that overshadows the forefathers and sets them apart in biblical scholarship. Getting pushed deeper and deeper into the literal interpretation of Scripture is why I love the Reformers/Puritans (though I disagree in some of their conclusions).

    Seek truth, seek Christ. Love the God who died for sinners.

  3. Go back to the Father’s who were disciples of the apostles, like Polycarp, Ignatius, and Papias. Read Justin Martyr. Augustine is far to late, the church was corrupted by then.

    You are basing your theology on men who lived hundreds of years removed from the Lord and his Apostles. Look to the early church for guidance. Who do you think is more reliable, a man who sat at the feet of one who sat at the feet of Christ, or one who is 1500 years removed from such?

  4. Even better, John, read the apostles. The church has always been corrupted by false doctrine. Read the NT. Antiquity does not equal authenticity. Don’t fall for that line. Read the apostles, believe in a God who bled (quote from the apostle Luke) and read the apostle Paul as he renounces theological corruptions throughout Colossians, Ephesians and Romans, Timothy and Thessalonians, etc….

  5. True, antiquity does not equal authenticity, but who should we have more confidence in, men who sat at the feet of the apostles, or those who lived 1500 years later? Neither are inspired granted, but I will lay my confidence in the men like Polycarp, and Ignatius. When I compare their teachings with the Gospels, they do not contradict each other. Could it be that the fact that their teaching is contradicted by the later writers have something to do with your dismisal of them? I would suggest that you re-read Paul’s letters without the influence of reformation theology.

  6. Tony, let me say this to your credit. You have conducted yourself admirably in our discussions. I have commented on some blogs and been torn apart. You have shown love and I appreciate it!

    John

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