Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This term, I have been privileged to attend a TTC (Trinity Theological College) night course about the Reformation. Suffice to say, it has been enlightening learning a little bit more about the history behind our Protestant Reformation.
Tonight as I was ironing some clothes, it struck me how much the modern church parallels that during the days preceding the Reformation. What do I mean by that? Well, consider why Martin Luther nailed ‘The 95 Theses’ on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church. He was concerned about the corrupt practice of selling indulgences to pardon sin. He was concerned that money was being used to build lavish edifices and to support the lavish lifestyle of (some of) the clergy. He was concerned that the clergy had sole authority to interpret Scripture.
Just my musing, but isn’t the modern church marked by similar traits? Tithe and give to God and you will get to enjoy your best life now! Or have faith in God and you will receive all the blessings that Jesus purchased for you on the Cross! (The modern prosperity ‘gospel’ and the hyper-grace ‘gospel’.) Think about the huge, beautiful church buildings built upon the back of the congregation (whilst pastors dress in Armani and live in exquisite abodes). Consider how little God’s people actually engage with Scripture rather than merely sprouting the go-to phrases from their pastor.
Ecclesia semper reformanda est (Latin for “the church is always to be reformed”) is a phrase first used by Karl Barth in 1947, allegedly deriving from a saying of St. Augustine. I wonder if there is in our times an increasing urgency for God’s church to be reformed afresh. Oh, that God would raise up a whole new generation of Martin Luthers, John Calvins etc. to bring about renewal in His Church! **and please don’t get me started on the New Apostolic Reformation, ugh! 😦
In my personal view, the 5 distinctive solae of the Reformation still stand as a bulwark for our faith in these times:
1. Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone
2. Sola fide – Faith alone
3. Sola gracia – Grace alone
4. Solus Christus – Christ alone
5. Soli Deo Gloria – For the glory of God alone!