Reformation Day which falls on the 31st of October every year is a largely forgotten day.
On the 31st of October 1617, Martin Luther walked up to the castle doors in Wittenburg and nailed to the door his 95 points of discussion written in Latin. These were to be translated into German and then spread all over Europe, igniting the Protestant Reformation.
Everyone knows the rough history of the Reformation, of how the Protestant church broke away from the Roman Catholic one. But few appreciate the enormity of what the Reformation was really about.
The people of the 1500s were largely illiterate and/or lacked an understanding of the language of the elite, Latin which made them essentially illiterate as far as the church was concerned. This firstly cut them off from understanding the services and Masses conducted in churches all across Europe. Their lack of spiritual understanding was made worse by the fact that the Church at the time decreed that the people could only understand the Bible through the Roman Catholic church and the Pope. It was a time when church tradition reigned and the papacy had degenerated into bitter infighting and corruption was rife. The Church had also begun the odious practice of selling indulgences to people for their salvation and that of their loved ones based on the idea that the saints had built up extra "merit" that could be sold to people for their own salvation or to shorten the Purgatory of their loved ones. This was, of course the method of financing the Crusades in the Middle East which were ongoing at the time.
That scripture and not the Church was the full and final authority for all matters of faith and life, that people could read and understand the Bible for themselves, could determine for themselves what was needed to achieve salvation...these were the real radical ideas behind the Reformation.
The 5 pivotal doctrines which emerged out of that time brought light into a Europe plunged into darkness.
Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide,Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria.
Through scripture alone, we know that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
May we remember, in this day of mega churches with congregations that seem to show little or no understanding of the scripture, that the Bible and not the church is the final authority on life.
That the onus is on us, to read and find out the truth for ourselves and not rely on the interpretation of the clergy.
Let there be light.