The Reformation first sailed across my radar in 1997, in my first year at grammar school. Our history teacher Mr Phelan asked who had heard of Martin Luther. About two thirds of the class put their hands up, including mine. Not Martin Luther King, said Phelan,... Martin Luther. Every hand, including mine, went down.
The mind is a funny thing, i can remember that as if it were yesterday, and yet i can't pick out anything else that we learnt on the reformation back then. I'm fairly sure that as an unsaved 12 year old i found it of little relevance to my life. Ten years on things have changed a great deal. Today is the 490th anniversary of when Martin Luther 'started' the Reformation, by posting his 95 these to the door of Wittenburg Castle. He was protesting about the sale of indulgences by the Catholic church, among other things, and this quickly lead to what we now know as the Reformation. Protestantism was born, and suddenly people could read their Bibles in their own tongue. The world ws a different place. The doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone was rediscovered. This is Christianity's dangerous idea. This is a work of God's Spirit and Word to motion one of the greatest ever revivals.
The Bible is very precious to me, but it wasn't always so. I remember when i first started to 'investigate' the claims of Christianity, i realised i needed a Bible. Providentially at that time i was being taught maths by the school chaplain, an heroic man named Peter Toller. When i found him and asked for a Bible i remember making sure no one could possibly hear me but him when i asked the question. Being able to read the Bible in my own language, in my own room by myself was an integral part of my repentance and coming to faith. Something that would have been totally impossible without the Reformation. To this day reading and studying the Bible each day gives me great delight, again, impossible without what Luther started.
And now in 2007, nearly five hundred years have passed since that famous day, and we've dealt with all the problems the Reformation riased haven't we? Sadly, not a bit of it. The gospel has been rediscovered. It had been lost by the Roman Catholic church, but found and defended by Luther, Calvin and Zwingli to name but a few. Battle won right? Sadly not. It seems my generation more than need to be reminded of what was won by those great men. In these 'emergent days' (which won't last long, in thirty years the Emergent Village and its 'conversation' will be a curious footnote of history) people seem to need to be reminded of the truth of Sola Scriptura. Suddenly people are scared to define what they believe, people want to take 'bricks out of the wall', people don't want preaching and confrontation any more, they want conversation and controversy. The leaders of this movement seem intent on creating for themselves a false Gospel, sacrificing the right for them to read the Bible on it's own terms. This worries me. If the real Reformation was born out of a desire to protect and proclaim the Gospel, it seems that this 'emergent reformation' is born out of a desire to simply throw it away. I would happily spend my life refuting the claims and approach of this new movement. I say new, it's not new of course, there is no new heresy, it's just recycled. Perhaps thats the saddest thing about it.
Last of all, i remember the Reformation today, because Reformation should lead to reformission. The Word of God doing an unrestricted work of glory in our hearts should lead us to want to reach out to our lost, perverted, sick, devil worshipping towns and cities. When we recover and trust what the Bible says about the glory of Christ and peril of the lost, we should be so gripped by these things that we can not help ourselves. Biblical faith is a gutsy faith. It's the faith of Paul, Peter, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards and Whitfield. People who weren't afraid to call a spade a spade and who got on with what God had called them to do. They didn't hide behind the 'cultural relevance' wall...they saw that what the Bible says about God and man, what Luther and his fellow reformers recovered is the most relevant set of truths there is..