Why The Reformation is Still Significant 500 Years Later


In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation I’m re-posting a classic article from several years back explaining the importance of this under-appreciated holiday.

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On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed his 95 theses on the castle church door in Wittenburg, protesting the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic church. Luther eventually went to trial for heresy at the Diet of Worms where he was asked to repent of his teachings upon penalty of excommunication. His teachings opposed many accepted doctrines and practices of the church. He also challenged the authority and infallibility of the Pope. Luther refused to recant, famously stating:

Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted of error by the testimony of Scripture or since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.

On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.

Amen.

The spark of the revolution began with the posting of the 95 Theses. The fires were kindled with his defiant words at the Diet of Worms. The Protestant Reformation began in earnest in 1521. The word Protestant simply means protester. A Protestant opposes the false teachings of Roman Catholicism. Continue reading

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Declaring Heresy


The vitriolic response to the Nashville Statement has stirred up mud from the bottom of the proverbial pond, threatening to cloud the clear waters of truth with murky ideological propositions.

Once upon a time the issues of marriage, sexuality and gender were self-evident in both nature and scripture, but in these confused times no revelation – natural or divine – can be taken for granted.

Thus the Nashville Statement came to be: A declaration of truth about the nature of marriage, the limits of human sexual expression and the common sense understanding of a male/female gender binary. The fact any of this is necessary bears sad witness to the reality that so many people who profess to be Christian can love the darkness so much more than they love the light. Instead of walking into the light of the gospel they hide themselves behind high walls of false, man-made doctrines and arm themselves with self-righteous counter-declarations that promote all that is depraved; then they have the tenacity to bless it with a holy kiss.

Need proof? Continue reading

Why the Nashville Statement is Necessary


The Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood recently released a declaration of belief regarding sex & gender ethics on behalf of the entire realm of Evangelical Christianity. It is called the Nashville Statement. The reason for the ambiguous title is that according to Christian tradition when a council or synod occurs, the meeting place is often used to identify the creed or statement of faith thereby produced. For example, the Nicene Creed was formulated in Nicaea, Turkey. The Canons of Dort were forged in the city of Dordrecht, Netherlands (often called Dort in English). More recently, the Manhattan Declaration was articulated in New York.

These kind of declarations, a clarion call to truth, are not common in this postmodern era. However, they have a rich history throughout the church age. During the explosion of biblical knowledge during the Protestant Reformation many confessions and creeds were put to pen and parchment. Other times, declarations of faith responded to serious error taking place within the church, to stem the rising tide of heresy within the visible body. The aforementioned Nicene Creed came about in response to the Arian doctrine denying the Trinitarian nature of God. The Council of Nicaea convened and refuted the error with great success. The Nicene Creed is the standard by which most churches understand the doctrine of the Trinity today. Continue reading

God For Us


The Holy Divine Trinity  has bestowed eternal blessings upon the elect. In what theologians call the Covenant of Redemption, the Trinity has purposed, secured and applied redemption for the church. Our salvation is no small feat, certainly not dependent on a mere human decision, flowing from the poisoned spring of our soul and the enslaved sinful will that, at best, can only offer a feeble faith that can never endure harsh realities or competing desires. No, our glorious bodily resurrection and entrance into the everlasting  kingdom takes an invested Trinitarian effort forged in love, for God’s own glory.

Let’s briefly examine each member of the Trinity’s involvement in the Covenant of Redemption: Continue reading

The Valley of Vision


Today in Sunday School I received an unexpected gift from a gentleman that I am little more than an acquaintance with. He handed me a copy of The Valley of Vision, a little devotional book full of Puritan prayers. I have wanted to read this treasure for many years but it never has pushed to the top of my most wanted list of theology books.

The gentleman is a professor at the university I work at and I have only spoken with him a handful of times. I looked at him quizzically, wondering how on earth he could’ve known I was an avid reader of Puritan literature. He explained that he had remembered a time when I had come by his office and how I had commented on The Valley of Vision sitting on his desk. I am a new attendee in the class he is in and he recalled our dialogue and decided to give me an extra copy he had at home. This encounter happened YEARS ago and I marvel at how he had remembered such a small thing for so long. I thanked him profusely but he probably has no idea just how thrilled I am to finally have this book. The cherry on top is the fact it is the swanky leather-bound edition. God is kind in all things great and small.

I have spent most of the day meditating on the introductory prayer that inspires the name of the volume. I wanted to present it here for your edification (and perhaps to help put this book on your ‘To Read’ list).

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,

Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,

where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;

hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox

that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,

and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,

thy life in my death,

thy joy in my sorrow,

thy grace in my sin,

thy riches in my poverty

thy glory in my valley.

Testimony of Scripture


Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translated by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God

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If we think of how inclined the human mind is to forget God, how easily it is led into error,  by what flights of fancy it dreams up, hour by hour, new and counterfeit religions, we may readily understand how necessary it was for the heavenly doctrine to be couched in written form, lest it perish through forgetfulness, or be lost through error, or be corrupted by the impudence  of men.

So it is that David first of all declares that the heavens proclaim God’s glory and the firmament his handiwork, and that his majesty is revealed in the orderly succession of day and night. He then goes on to celebrate God’s word, saying: ‘The law of the Lord is spotless, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is true, giving wisdom to the humble; the righteous deeds of the Lord are just, rejoicing the heart; the precepts of the Lord are clear, enlightening the eye’ (Psa 19:7-8). What he means is that the message of God’s creation is universal, for all peoples, but that the teaching of the word is the school peculiar to God’s children.

Calvin asserts the word of God became necessary because while natural revelation reveals God’s power and many of His invisible attributes, in the hands of corrupted man, this knowledge can easily be twisted to suit his own purposes. Historic pagan religions bear witness to this fact. Ancient Greek culture invented deities that controlled particular aspects of nature instead of giving the one true God the glory He is due for His sovereign reign over all the cosmos. Many civilizations of old have followed their own imaginations in defining who or what brushed the blank canvas of space with a full palette of color, beauty and diverse complexity. Continue reading