Showing posts with label Church history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church history. Show all posts

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31 - Reformation Day


As the end of October draws near, I'm always reminded of God's grace and mercy to a simple monk by the name of Martin Luther and how God used him in his day--and continues to use his writings in our day--to awaken the Church to its great need for reform.

"Luther became convinced that the Church had lost sight of several of the central truths of Christianity taught in Scripture the most important of which being the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Luther began to teach that salvation is completely a gift of God's grace through Jesus received by faith." Theopedia

Naturally, Luther became deeply concerned at the practice of selling indulgences as a means to salvation. Indulgences are certificates purchased by family (a good friend of ours owns one purchased/used by his ancestors in 19th century Louisiana) that absolve individuals from the penalties of the sins they had confessed. You could purchase one for yourself or for a deceased relative reportedly in purgatory. In Luther's day, a Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, was charged with the task of traveling around promoting and selling such indulgences to raise money for the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was quite successful at this and known to advertise the indulgences by chanting, "as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs".

Luther grew more concerned with the church's departure from Scripture as well as the greed and worldiness found within it. On October 31, 1517 Luther reportedly nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church inviting open debate on the noted concerns. Read Luther's 95 Theses HERE .

And for those interested in his relationship to his wife (a former nun), Katharina von Bora, and his home life, I highly recommend you read THIS BOOK. I am particularly fond of "Kitty" Luther--we sound like kindred spirits,
"There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage", Luther discovered. "You wake up in the morning and find a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before." The pigtails belonged to a determined young lady with a mind of her own...she had a strong sense of her own identity and worth which she would need if she was not to feel swamped and overlooked in her husband's forceful presence.

A shrinking violet would not have suited him anyway. His personality needed someone to come up against, someone who would always be herself. He called her 'My lord Katie' or on occasion pronounced her name 'Kette', German for 'chain'.

He said that if he wanted an obedient wife he would have to carve one for himself out of stone."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Avoiding the "ditch" on the topic of Revival

(This is a rather lengthy introduction, if you haven't the time, scroll down to the links I offer)

I grew up attending churches of a certain denomination, so I've been to countless 'revivals'. As a matter of fact, up until the last few decades it was a standard part of the annual 'church calendar' to coordinate a 'fall' revival and a 'spring' revival. Back in the 60's and 70's these revivals were scheduled to last a full week--Sunday through Sunday--with a church service and/or activity every evening during the week.

Having grown up in that culture I was surprised to learn--after the Lord saved me in my early 20's--that 'revival' isn't about daily meetings, altar calls, knocking on doors, pot-luck suppers, fruitless professions, emotionally charged confessions, or great choir/musical presentations (all of which I gladly participated in).

Personally, I believe that the church as a whole misuses and misunderstands the term 'revival' just about as much as they misuse and misunderstand the term 'miracle'. In the late 70's and early 80's I was lead to believe that the "Jesus Freak" movement and the subsequent second-blessing/charismatic/third wave movement was in fact a modern-day 'revival'.

I think it's safe to say that once you've seen/experienced something aberrant within Christiandom, you are not likely to continue on in your Christian walk passively or unquestioningly. I do realize that there are two 'ditches' in which you can find yourself as you walk along--one is the ditch of apathy, and the other is the ditch of cynicism (where I believe our emergent friends are gathering).

As I began to question and examine the Biblical view of 'revival' in light of our modern-day 'revivals' I soon found that many others had questioned and/or defended 'revivals' of their day. So, it's no surprise that in the mid to late 80's I ended up encountering the writings of Jonathan Edwards.!

So, all that to say this! I've been working my way through Edwards' "Religious Affections" (both the original and an abridged version!) and have also been taking the opportunity to consider the thoughts of others on Edwards' and his contributions to the topic of 'revival'. I do this because I most certainly don't want to inadvertently find myself in either ditch--apathy or cynicism. I try to approach all church and Christian living issues/matters in the same matter--which as you might imagine makes for some pretty lofty reading goals!

Here's what I recently added to my looooooooong list of reading on the topic (posted at the Ligonier blog):

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 1)

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 2) ~ The Relevance of Edward's Distinguishing Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 3) ~ Negative Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 4) ~ Positive Marks

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 5) ~ Applications

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day ~ The Reformer and His Wife

Tim Challis has invited bloggers to participate in the "Reformation Day Symposium. So, in that spirit, here are a few interesting and entertaining excerpts from a book* in our study about Catherine Luther.

Born Catherine von Bora January 29, 1499, she married Martin Luther June 13, 1525.
"That they were happy together there can be no doubt, and mutually beneficial. He thanked God for a 'pious and faithful wife' to whom he could safely trust his heart. His 'dear rib' was 'gentle, obedient and kind in all things far beyond my hopes. I would not exchange my poverty with her, for all the riches of Croesus with her.' Again he said, 'I would not part from my Katie, no not to gain all France and Venice.' Late in life he said, 'Next to God's Word, his best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing, home-keeping wife with whom you can live in peace and tranquility; to whom you can entrust your goods and body and life' and, to let her know it was not all one way, 'Katie you have a pious husband who loves you; you are a very empress; thanks be to God.'

Oh, there were trials and tribulations in marriage to be sure...'My whole life is patience. I have to have patience with the Pope, heretics, my family, and Katie.' However, he had to admit it was good for him..."

'There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage', Luther discovered. 'You wake up in the morning and find a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.' The pigtails belonged to a determined young lady with a mind of her own...she had a strong sense of her own identity and worth which she would need if she was not to feel swamped and overlooked in her husband's forceful presence. A shrinking violet would not have suited him anyway. His personality needed someone to come up against, someone who would always be herself. He called her 'My lord Katie' or on occasion pronounced her name 'Kette', German for 'chain'. He said that if he wanted an obedient wife he would have to carve one for himself out of stone."

"The letter which Luther wrote to Katie on the 4th shows that she was not merely on the fringe of the Reformation but took an informed interest in the questions of the day.

'Dear Katie,
Our friendly conferences at Marburg (where the leading Swiss and German theologians were endeavouring to reach agreement on a common confession) is almost ended, and we have agreed upon all points except that our opponents maintain that only the bread and wine are presented in the sacraments although admitting Christ's spiritual presence in the elements. Today the Landgrave is making every effort to unite us or at least to make us consider each other as brothers and members of Christ's body. Although we object to being brothers, we wish to live at peace and on good terms. Say to Here Pommer that Zwingli's argument was the best: "Corpus non potest esse sine loco, ergo Christi corpus non est in pane." That of Oecolampadius was, "Sacramentum est signum corporis Christi."

Goodnight to all and pray for us. We are all well and lively, and living like princes....
Your obedient servant, Martin Luther

* Luther and his Katie, by Dolina MacCuish

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Reformation Day!

I've enjoyed history most of my life, but grew to really love it after the Lord saved me and I began to recognize and understand God's sovereign hand!

So, as the end of October draws near, I'm always reminded of God's grace and mercy to a simple monk by the name of Martin Luther and how God used him in his day and continues to use his writings in our day.

I encourage you to learn more about this very interesting and bold man of God. For starters, check out the following links.

Wikipedia has THIS to offer.

For the "home schoolers", check out Reformation Art website for some great illustrations and even some historic info.

Then, check out THIS link for a copy of Luther's 95 Theses.

I highly recommend you read THIS BOOK about Luther's wife, Katharina von Bora.

And, for a humorus look at Reformation history, check out the Reformation Polka--pay close attention to the words!

On a sidenote, a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) friend of mine recently told me that it is a common practice among Lutherans to wear red (representing the Holy Spirit and martyrs of the Xian Church) to church on Reformation Sunday (observed Oct. 31, or the Sunday prior to the 31st). I'm seriously considering doing that myself--join me, won't you?