“The Reformation was not a mistake, but a necessity”

René Malgo

Dear friends, we have already called repeatedly for unity among believers. We should not make our opinion our idol, because that prevents us from seeing Christ in our redeemed neighbors. But that does not mean that we can or should say “yes and amen” to all. It’s about spiritual unity, not external or institutional unity. We hold a position in opposition to a misunderstood unity and call for standing by the truth. We cannot join the current unification efforts between many Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church.

On the occasion of Reformation Day on October 31, this edition will once again be focused on the Reformation and proclaim its central concerns: Sola Scriptura—by Scripture alone; Sola Fide—by faith alone; Solus Christus—by Christ alone; Sola Gratia—by grace alone; Soli Deo Gloria—to God alone be the glory.

Thus, our retrospective has targeted 500 years of the Reformation, especially highlighting Martin Luther. Many, including Protestants, wonder today whether the Reformation was not a mistake, even a tragedy. Indeed, we should not gloss over the injustice that happened on all sides. The Protestants were also guilty of it. Many rulers turned to Protestant or Reformed faith only for reasons of political power. Just think of the Thirty Years’ War.

Nevertheless, the Reformation was not a mistake, but a necessity. Even the Catholic theologian Matthew Levering admits this in his book, Was the Reformation a Mistake? The church was in desperate condition. Levering sees this, however, only in the moral domain, but not in the theological, and therefore stands by every one of the Catholic dogmas. However, the central point of the Reformation was precisely theological understanding.

The more Western society “goes to the dogs” in our days, the more Protestants will find moral consensus with the Roman Catholic Church. One should not, however, overlook the fact that the essential difference between the two camps is still the matter of salvation by grace, faith, and Christ alone. Therefore, this begs the question, are Protestants who defend the Reformation on the wrong side? This is the accusation of Catholic theologians. They argue that Luther’s “ideas” had been completely unknown in the centuries before.

So, in the end, are we the ones in the wrong? Have we heaped to ourselves teachers, “having itching ears,” because we cannot tolerate the doctrine of salvation (2 Tim 4:3)? This shows how extremely important Sola Scriptura is. The core concern of the Reformation was not to bring new doctrines, but to lead many people to reflect on and return to the original teachings of our Lord and His apostles. 

Although Paul is pessimistic as far as nominal Christianity goes, and foresaw a great falling away (2 Tim 3; 2 Thess 2), he is distinctly optimistic about true believers who are rooted in Christ and part of His body. In Ephesians 4:13 he pronounces a remarkable, often forgotten word of prophecy: Jesus has given the gifts in the church, with the aim that “we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The goal of all true believers is unity of faith and perfect maturity in Christ.

The Reformation contributed to making Biblical faith more accessible. The knowledge and religious conflicts of our ancestors bore fruit. May the Lord grant us that we, too, can contribute to it. It is not wrong to question traditions. Every generation needs the exhortation to return to the Word of God. This helps to lead the worldwide body of Christ “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and the sacred Church that is consecrated by the Lord is ready for the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

Maranatha! Amen, come, Lord Jesus!

Midnight Call - 10/2017

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