On October 31, 1517, a young monk posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. It attacked the Catholic practice at the time of selling indulgences for forgiveness of sins, asserting that the church must be guided by Scripture alone, and that salvation was through a person’s faith, rather than their works.
Luther’s act would set in motion a series of events that would lead many people to gradually coalesce into a new movement: The Protestant Reformation.
As Reformed Presbyterians, we are direct descendants and heirs of these faithful giants. With the rest of Christendom, we of course trace our tradition back through the Middle Ages and into the Apostolic tradition, founded as we are on the teachings of Christ, Israel’s Messiah and ours, and his apostles (2 Peter 3:2; Eph. 2:20). Yet it is the Protestant Reformation that gave voice and clarity to our church's distinctives: sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria. Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and to God alone be glory.
In 2017 we arrive at the 500th anniversary of that pivotal day.
Roots for Reformation: Adult Sunday School
The reformation is not over. One of the watchwords of the Reformation was the call to be “always Reforming.” The phrase is easily misunderstood. It’s not a call to be constantly changing and shifting with the times; quite the contrary: it is a call to be continually engaged in conforming our lives together to the teachings of Christ as delivered to us in His Word. As such, it involves a kind of dual vision: (1) holding fast to our traditions and continually refining them in light of the Scriptures (2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:3-14); and (2) moving forward in our own time and context through persevering faithfulness.
Last semester we began a new Sunday School series that will take us through the end of 2017. We are calling the series “Roots for Reformation,” which is an attempt to capture this dual vision: looking back to our roots in order to continue to persevere in our present environment. Our intent is to honor and learn from our forebears, to understand their context and teaching, to honor the teachers and teachings and texts that they themselves honored, and in doing all that to move forward in our own lives of faith. Over the course of the next two years we hope to consider a number of Reformation-themed topics:
- Galatians, Spring 2016. This book provided Luther and others with the key theological foundation for sola fide.
- The Westminster Confession of Faith, Fall 2016. This confession, completed in 1646 in England, is a masterful description of theological standards of the Reformation. Our denomination uses these documents as our “subordinate standard” as well—though Scripture is our ultimate standard, this document expresses what most Reformed Presbyterians believe the Bible teaches.
- A Survey of Church History, 2017. We are pleased to have Dr. Jonathan Yonan, Associate Professor of Church History and Dean of the Templeton Honors College, to walk us through the seminal events throughout the history of the church.
Join us as we learn together, discuss the big questions, and grow in our understanding of the traditions passed down to us.