500 Years of Reformation
There is an abundance of wonderful material right now celebrating 500 years of Protestant Reformation. You can, for example, subscribe to receive a short biography of a “hero of the Reformation" each day via email or podcast. Why learn about the reformers at all?
THEY REMIND US OF THE ESSENTIALS
Growing up all my Christian friends wore “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) bracelets. The reformers would have found this puzzling. Not because it’s a bad question, but because it’s a secondary question. They concerned themselves primarily with the question, “what has Jesus done?”
In other words, the reformers remind us that Christianity is centered on the gospel! The good news of what God accomplished for us through Jesus Christ. They remind us that Jesus is not merely an excellent example, but a substitute and savior! Nothing could be more important to “self-sufficient” and “independent” Americans.
THEY REMIND US THAT DOCTRINE MATTERS
Protestant reformers faced immense persecution for their beliefs. One influential reformer, Guido de Bres, once said Protestants would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to fire,” rather than deny the truths of the reformation. The reason de Bres was willing to suffer immense affliction was that he had personally been transformed and freed by the truth of Scripture. So, we study the reformers because they are living illustrations to Jesus’ words, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8.32, KJV).
THEY REMIND US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL
Jesus concluded His great commission saying, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt 28.20, KJV). Today we take printed Bibles, preaching in English, singing in worship, and gospel-centered sermons for granted. However, these were completely absent in the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. They are available today because courageous men and women gave their lives—figuratively and literally—to make them a staple of Christian life.
Therefore, we study the reformers because they testify to the reality that God is faithful. He will preserve His church and truth even in the darkest hours of persecution. As Martin Luther said, “The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still!”
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY
- Here We Stand: A 31-Day Journey With Heroes of the Reformation (Desiring God)
- The White Horse Inn Podcast is in the middle of a series on the 5 Solas of the Reformation
- Reformation & Modern Church History Class Lectures (Covenant Seminary)