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A Reformation Day Symposium
October 17, 2006
October 31, just two weeks from now, will mark the 489th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg. In so doing he struck a match, beginning a fire that quickly spread throughout Europe and throughout the world. Having become increasingly disillusioned with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, and in particular the sale of indulgences, Luther wrote his Theses to try to begin the process of reform. While he was unable to bring reform to the church, he did trigger the Protestant Reformation by rediscovering the Gospel - the good news of salvation by grace through faith. The Reformation had profound influence in politics, art, literature and theology - while it was at its heart a Christian movement, it impacted all areas of society. That seemingly insignificant act is, in reality, one of the defining points of history. It is a shame that the day has largely been forgotten in favor of what is now the year’s most popular day, Halloween (Halloween is, after all, one of the few holidays that our society can celebrate without shame and without feeling politically incorrect).
Last year, Jollyblogger reflected on the day, saying:
But even the vast majority of those from protestant traditions, who believe that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone, have little, if any, appreciation for the Reformation. Here in America these same folks will celebrate national holidays like the 4th of July or Memorial Day or Veterans Day with the gusto they deserve while neglecting to remember the Reformation. This is a shame because the things that transpired at the time of the Reformation were world shaping events, whereas the national holidays that people from countries around the world usually have particular significance to particular nations and peoples. The Reformation has a significance that transcends national concerns.
But more importantly, the Reformation has a spiritual significance which transcends these lesser matters of life, like the affairs of nations. This is because the Reformation marked the recovery of the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. It marked the recovery of the gospel. While it is true that these things are taught in the Scriptures and that no reformer or other human being should be given credit for the doctrines themselves, it is also true that these precious truths had been all but lost before the time of the Reformation. In His providence, God chose certain men at a certain time in history to recover the very gospel itself. It is this gospel by which we are saved. And we who confess the evangelical faith in our day are remiss in forgetting this important aspect of our history.
We all ought to be exceedingly grateful that we were born in a time where the gospel is freely preached, freely shared, and freely heeded. It was not always this way. For the better part of a millennium, the gospel was largely forgotten. Let us not forget that, but for the grace of God, we may have been born in those dark ages, where the Bible was almost unknown, and when the church had little to offer but senseless, gospel-free tradition and superstition.
In recognition of the significance of this day, I would like to suggest that Christian bloggers mark October 31 with reflections on Reformation Day. You may want to reflect on a person, an event, or a particular point of theology. The topic is wide open, so long as it somehow ties in to Reformation Day. And remember, you do not need to be Reformed to appreciate the Reformation and all it stood for. If you do not have a blog of your own, but would still like to participate, why not ask another blogger if you can “guest” on his site that day (which is not to say that I am offering my blog for this purpose!).
I will gladly allow my site to serve as a repository for whatever links are provided to me. So, if you write an article, send me the link on October 31 and I will list it on my site.
In an attempt to make things even more interesting, I’ll kick in a prize to the article that is determined to be “best” (as judged by myself and likely a couple of other judges, and based on whatever subjective criteria we come up with).
For a prize I’ll offer:
- One print of your choice from Reformation Art.
- A copy of Steve Lawson’s book Foundations of Grace, the first in his series “A Long Line of Godly Men.”
So start thinking, start writing, and prepare to post your articles on October 31.