The Reformation PreacherMay 25, 2007
Perhaps its because I’m currently reading a wonderful book “The Expository Genius of John Calvin.” Or maybe its because last evening (courtesy of Conventicle’s Chris Ross) I enjoyed a lecture on the life of Martin Luther. But this week I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of preaching in the shadow of the Reformation.
What struck me last night was the great privilege we have. We don’t live in a day when the great Reformation truths (ie. faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone, through Christ alone, to the glory of God alone) are unknown or unheralded. There remains much ignorance and confusion about many of these articles, to be sure. But we don’t live in an age without any clear articulation of these great doctrines.
Luther did. And he put his neck on the line to leave us a legacy.
Yet how often today are the redefining truths and realigning events of the Reformation taken for granted? How frequently are the great gospel truths assumed. And how increasingly common is the idea that the Reformation – even if of value back then – is now well and truly “over”?
Honest answers to these questions are sobering. So, we would do well to hear those voices which proclaim the ongoing significance of the Reformation today. Kirsten Burkitt, in her excellent study “The Essence of the Reformation”, makes one such clarion call:
“The Reformation was more than an alteration of liturgical and ceremonial practice; it was a new way of looking at the world, which invaded the parish church and the daily life of every parishioner. There was more than a change in ‘religion’; it was a change in thought, in life, and what it meant to be a human being in God’s World.
It was a world in which we can have confidence in God and hope for the future, based on his grace to us in the Christ of the Scriptures, which we receive through faith alone.
Too often since then, these certainties have been attacked and eroded, and continue to be attacked today. Indeed, many Christians are ignorant of the issues, and do not realise that the truths for which the Reformers fought and died are as much under threat now as they were then. Many errors of Roman Catholicism remain uncorrected. Mystical, magical and superstitious versions of Christianity keep re-emerging in different forms.
We do not need to copy the Reformers out of love for history or tradition. Yet we need to learn the lessons of the Reformation, and be reminded that the truth that inspired that generation to protest, and to reform, is still true today.”