500th Protestant Reformation Anniversary
Here is a pop quiz…What is October 31st known for? If you said Halloween you are right. But I am talking of a totally different event that happened on the same month and date a quincentennial ago. On October 31st, the whole world will be commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The event this month will focus on Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses on Wittenberg Castle Church on October 31st, 1517 which triggered Pope Leo X to issue Luther a Decent Romanum Pontificem (a papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther) on January 3, 1521.
With the current hype about this anniversary, someone probed me, “Should we celebrate or commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the nailing of the 95 theses?” While I was cautious responding to the question, I was keen to highlight the contribution that Luther played in the 16th Century Protestant Reformation such as publishing a German translation of the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534. In other words, he gave people the Bible as previously, it was only available in Latin, a language a few could read. Derek Wilson in his book Resilient Reformer: The Life and Thought of Martin Luther notes that “Within decades of Luther’s death… all Europe was awash with Bibles in contemporary languages…. This was the richest part of Martin Luther’s legacy. He bequeathed to the peoples of the world a collection of religious writings and invested them with supreme authority (or, as he would have said, recognized the supreme authority they manifestly possessed).“(363)
Luther was also known of one of his famous Mantra “Sola Scriptura (By Scripture Only). I agree with Luther as the Bible should be the only rule of faith and practice. Ellen While in one of her classics- The Great Controversy notes, “But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” (595). In his discourse at the Diet of Worms in Germany and on trial, Luther said; “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.” These statement blows my mind and wish like Luther I would say the same if called to.
So, what’s the point? I can confidently attest to you that Luther was not right in all his theology. But you and I cannot ignore the immense contribution he played and how God used him with the light that he had. In fact, about hundred years ago Ellen White penned this statement; “The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world’s history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly unfolding.” (The Great Controversy 148-149). So, whatever way you look at the 500th anniversary including as a harbinger of Christ coming (as some of you suppose) don’t forget the contribution and the role he played. My final question to you, what are you doing with what God has revealed to you?
Join us on Sabbath October 28, 2017 for a sermon titled “Luther’s Five Solas” as Pastor Stephen Kabah exposits the five solas by Luther; Sola Scriptura (By Scripture alone), Sola Fide (By Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (By Grace alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone or through Christ alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)
Also join us today at 7:30PM for our Wednesday prayer meeting as we focus of the Protestant Reformation. Tonight’s Topic: Who was John Huss?
AUTHOR: Pastor Stephen Kabah is the Senior Pastor of Filam International SDA Church in San Antonio Texas. Follow him on Twitter @KabahJr.