500 years ago this month, a passionate young monk hammered 95 Theses into the front doors of the Wittenburg church, seeking to redress the excesses of the clergy in Rome and throughout Germany. Little did he know that the blows of his hammer would crack open the Church itself to the powerful currents of change sweeping across Europe on the eve of the Modern Age.
The Protestant Reformation, with its emphasis on Faith alone, Scripture alone and Grace alone fundamentally changed the power and governance of the Church. Through doctrines such as Freedom of Conscience and the Priesthood of All Believers, the spiritual and intellectual preconditions were set in place for Enlightenment concepts such as Popular Sovereignty, the Nation-State and Constitutional Government. Protestant virtues such as hard work, discipline, frugality, punctuality and self-improvement provided the spiritual underpinning for the rise of Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Freedom of worship and the right to confront tyranny with truth fueled the Great Experiment of American democracy in 1776 and continues on today.
This month, Knox will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in its worship, study and fellowship. A group of Knox members led by Deb and me will be travelling to Germany in the footsteps of Martin Luther from Oct. 8-15, visiting Wittenburg itself among other places. On Sunday October 22nd at 4:00 pm. Dr. Ken Sawyer, Professor of Church History at McCormick Theological Seminary, will lecture on the Reformation and the core doctrines of Protestantism. And on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 29th, special worship services at 9:00 and 10:30 am will be followed by the showing of "Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World" at 3:00 pm in the Sanctuary. Childcare will be provided and I will lead a discussion, taking questions from the audience after the showing.
Our freedom in Christ is the greatest freedom of all--a debt of understanding we owe in large part to the Reformation of the Church and people like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. Today--the living out of that freedom continues!
In grace and peace,