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What Is Reformation Day? (via Stephen Nichols at Ligonier)

May churches will acknowledge the Reformation tomorrow, the Sunday before October 31.
Stephen Nichol provides a summary of why.

What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.

Read the whole post at Ligonier.


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It’s Still Good News (via Michael Reeves)

The good news proclaimed at the Reformation in 1517 is still good news in 2017 and beyond.
Which is why the Reformation will never really be over, or a thing of the past.
From Michael Reeves on why the Reformation still matters:

Almost certainly, what confuses people into thinking that the Reformation is a bit of history we can move beyond is the idea that it was just a reaction to some problem of the day. But the closer one looks, the clearer it becomes: the Reformation was not principally a negative movement about moving away from Rome and its corruption; it was a positive movement, about moving toward the gospel. And that is precisely what preserves the validity of the Reformation for today. If the Reformation had been a mere reaction to a historical situation five hundred years ago, one would expect it to be over. But as a program to move ever closer to the gospel, it cannot be over.

Source


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Pierre Durand, Huguenot Martyr – Simonetta Carr

Simonetta Carr introduces the forgotten people of Christian history, this time Pierre Durand:

Pierre Durand was not simply an isolated martyr in the history of the church.
He was one of the main architects in a concerted effort to bring the Huguenot churches to unity, order, and theological orthodoxy.

read about Durand here.


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Billy Graham In Sydney (via Philip Jensen)

There’s no shortage of Billy Graham reflection pieces since his death.

I watched Peter Jensen be interviewed on Dominic Steele’s The Pastor’s Heart webcast where he mentioned his response to the Graham Crusade of 1959 as a 15 year old, and that his 13 year old brother followed him forward.
Philip Jensen provides his perspective of being that 13 year old.
But it’s the human story of the impact of Graham’s ministry that remains.
From Jensen:

However, the main impact of the Graham crusades was felt at the grass roots of our society rather than in the public domain. Certainly, many who made a decision for Christ, later fell away – but the long-term impact in the lives of individuals, families and churches can still be found across Australia. Half the students training at Moore College to become Ministers during the 60’s were converted at the ‘59 crusade. Nearly all the youth group I lead were converted in the ‘68 crusade. The church I pastored doubled in size during 1979, largely as a result of the that year’s crusade. At university I met a girl who, as a young teenager, was converted in 1959 listening to Billy Graham on a landline in Broken Hill. That’s how my wife became a Christian.
Read the whole post here.


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14 Women Of The Reformation That You Probably Never Knew About (via Justin Holcomb)

Justin Holcomb provides brief paragraphs about fourteen women who participated in the GERMANY

Katherine von Bora was a former nun who married Martin Luther. They were married for 21 years and had six children. Her quick tongue, humor, and stubbornness matched Martin’s—no small feat. She managed their home (which was frequently full of students), had a large garden and livestock, fished and farmed, and ran a brewery. She also managed their money and took care of their extended household. Martin called her “My Lord Katie.”
Katharina Schutz Zell was married to Matthew Zell of Strasbourg and ministered as a team with her husband. She developed women’s ministries and published a book of Psalms for women to sing. She took a leading role in organizing relief for 150 men exiled from their town for their faith and wrote scriptural encouragements to the wives and children left behind. During the Peasants’ War, she organized Strasbourg to deal with 3,000 refugees for a period of six months.
Ursula von Münsterberg (1491? – 1534) was the granddaughter of King Georg Podiebrad of Bohemia. Ursala was a nun at a convent in Freiberg, Saxony. She spearheaded an effort to bring in a chaplain who was familiar with Luther and had Luther’s books smuggled into the convent. Because of this, she was forced to flee her convent in 1529, after which she stayed with the Luther family.
Argula von Grumbach was a Bavarian noblewoman who vigorously challenged the faculty of the University of Ingolstadt to debate her reformed views. Her letters were widely published.
Anna Rhegius was born in Augsburg in 1505. She had a good education, which included the study of Hebrew, enabling her to discuss biblical writings in great depth.
Elisabeth von Braunschweig married at age 15. After being married for ten years, her mother visited Elisabeth and invited a Lutheran pastor to preach. Within a year, Elisabeth converted and resolved to raise her son as a Lutheran. After the death of her husband, she wrote a book attempting to console widows, helping them through the grieving process.
Elisabeth Cruciger was from Pomerania and spent time at the convent in Treptow on Rega. She left the convent in 1522 or 1523 and married Caspar Cruciger in 1524, which marked the first official Protestant wedding. A friend of Katie Luther’s, Elizabeth was involved in theological discussions at Luther’s “table talks” and with Philip Melanchthon, who considered her to be a bright woman. She wrote the first Protestant hymn in 1524, which created a controversy since women were not usually songwriters in her day.
FRANCE & THE LOW COUNTRIES
Jeanne d’Albret was the Queen of Navarre and an influential leader of the Huguenot movement in France. She invited Reformed preachers to speak in her land and publicly declared her adherence to Calvinism in 1560; however, she made it clear that she followed “Beza, Calvin and others only insofar as they follow Scripture.” She attempted to bridge the divide between Catholics and Protestants and tried to bring peace as wars began to break out. In fact, while a Protestant, she continued to allow the Mass to take place in her land, refusing to punish Catholics who did not convert to Protestantism.
Ursula Jost was an influential Anabaptist woman in Strasbourg who wrote a book recounting her prophetic visions of the impending judgment of God that would come upon the people of her city.
Idelette de Bure was a widow with three children when she married John Calvin. One child of theirs died while an infant and she miscarried another. In the process, Calvin, who spoke little of his married life, was deeply touched. Their relationship softened his heart deeply.
Marie Dentière (c. 1495-1561) was of Flemish descent from a family of minor nobility. She was part of an Augustinian monastery in Tournai, which she later left after embracing the teachings of the reformers, a crime against both church and state. She fled to Strasbourg and married Simon Robert, who had been a priest in Tournai, becoming his assistant in their goal of spreading the reform to the area to the east of Geneva. After her husband’s death, she married Antione Froment, a follower of reformer William Farel. Marie wrote an anonymous pamphlet intended to convince the Genevans of God’s intentions for their city. She also spoke out in public taverns and on street corners. It was a success as Geneva eventually became a Protestant republic. She also wrote a book recounting the history of the Geneva reformation.
ENGLAND
Jane Grey wrote letters to the reformer Heinrich Bullinger at age 14. As queen, Jane fought off intense efforts to convert her to Rome when she was 16. She resisted those efforts with theological reasoning and biblical teaching against a professor of theology twice her age.
Catherine Willoughby became the Duchess of Suffolk in 1533 and was related to Jane Grey. She protected the preacher-bishop Hugh Latimer from persecution until things became so unbearable for her that, to save her life, she fled to the Netherlands with her infant. She was forced into exile as a supporter of the Reformation.
ITALY
Olimpia Fulvia Morata was an Italian scholar born in Ferrera as the oldest child of a humanist scholar, who, after being forced to flee his city to northern Italy, lectured on the teachings of Calvin and Luther. Olimpia flourished in her studies, especially in Latin and Greek, exhibiting impeccable scholarship. She wrote Latin dialogues, Greek poems, and letters to both scholars (in Latin) and less educated women (in Italian). In her “Dialogue between Theophilia and Philotima,” she encouraged those who feared that their gross sins obstructed their way to God:
Don’t be afraid … No odor of sinners can be so foul that its force cannot be broken and weakened by the sweetest odor that flows from the death of Christ, which alone God can perfume. Therefore seek Christ.

Source


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Reformation Preaching: The End Of Misty Questions And Sweet Stories (via Michael Reeves)

If you’re attending Christian worship expecting to learn something from the Bible, that’s a fruit of the Reformation.
From Michael Reeves:

By the 15th century, only a small percentage of people could expect to hear their priest preach to them regularly in their local parish church. The English reformer Hugh Latimer spoke of “strawberry parsons” who, like strawberries, appeared but once a year. Even then, the homily would often be in a Latin unintelligible to the people (and, perhaps, to the priest).
As for the content of these rare delicacies, they were highly unlikely to go anywhere near Scripture. The vast majority of the clergy simply didn’t have the Scriptural knowledge to make the attempt. Instead, wrote John Calvin, pre-Reformation sermons were usually divided according to this basic pattern:

The first half was devoted to those misty questions of the schools which might astonish the rude populace, while the second contained sweet stories, or not unamusing speculations, by which the hearers might be kept on the alert. Only a few expressions were thrown in from the Word of God, that by their majesty they might procure credit for these frivolities.

As a result, ignorance of the Word and gospel of God was profound and widespread.
n eye-catching contrast, the Reformation made the sermon the very focal point of the church’s regular worship, and emphasized it architecturally through the physical centrality and conspicuousness of the pulpit.

Read the rest of the article here.

Well, at least you shouldn’t be hearing misty questions or sweet stories if you’re attending a church with a Reformation heritage.


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The Protection Of Sola Scriptura (via Michael Kruger)

Michael Kruger, at his blog Canon Fodder, writes about three protections that the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) offers to Christians.

Traditionalism: “Church tradition is our guide”
Individualism: “My Own Private Bible Interpretation is My Guide”
Existentialism: “Who Needs the Bible? Religious Experience is My Guide”

Read his explanations here.