On October 31, 2017, the Protestant Reformation turns 500 years old, commemorating the posting of the 95 Theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. (To read the entire blog posts, click on the titles below)
The Reformation and the Glory of God (John Piper)
"The Reformers believed that only grace could raise us from the dead, and only Christ could become our punishment and our perfection. These two miracles—of life from the dead and wrath removed—could only be received as a gift through faith. They could never be merited or earned, all so that the entire transaction would culminate soli Deo Gloria—to the glory of God alone."
Did the Reformation Secularize the West? (Kevin Flatt)
"Once, in the Middle Ages, Western Christendom was united in a shared faith under a single Roman Catholic church. All areas of life were suffused with religious influence and significance, and it was almost impossible to disbelieve in God or live one’s life as if he were unimportant. But the Protestant Reformation came along and shattered this unity, creating deep, irresolvable disagreements about fundamental questions of authority, doctrine, worship, and morality—even among Protestants themselves. The resulting conflicts could and did turn violent, as the various groups persecuted each other and doctrinal disputes provided pretexts for religious wars.
These events had two unintended long-term consequences: the privatization of religion and the rise of religious individualism. Privatization said, in effect, if we can’t agree about religion, let’s keep religion out of the things we do together as a society—science, philosophy, commerce, government, education. Individualism said, since we can’t agree, let every man be his own judge in religious matters. While privatization led to the stripping of religion from the public square, individualism led to a breakdown in religious authority in the church and at home, ending in full-blown relativism: what’s true for you isn’t true for me, and you have no right to tell me what to do. Thus, in the long run, the Reformation removed religion from most areas of life and undercut the viability of local church communities rooted in shared beliefs. Or, in Clue terms, “The Reformation did it with religious divisions in the sixteenth century!"
I'm currently reading Martin Luther's new biography by Eric Metaxas who also wrote a thoughtful and engaging biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy". The Metaxas biography of Luther is a good way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of our Protestant tradition. Tolle lege -- "Take up and read!"