After 501 Years, Is the Reformation Over?

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Today is the day. 501 years ago Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door of Wittenberg. In doing so, God used Luther to spark the flame of the Reformation which had already been kindled by men like Jan Hus and John Wycliffe. This Reformation lead to separating from the false theological framework of the Roman Catholic Church by the true church, those who professed that salvation is only by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone as revealed in the Scriptures alone. Men like Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin taught the Gospel openly and clearly for the first time in centuries. This theological revolution called the Reformation did not stop in Luther’s time. It continued long after his death, it continues even today. This has left many to ask whether we still need the Reformation in 2018. After 501 years is the Reformation over? Here are 3 quick reasons why the Reformation is not over.

The Roman Catholic Church has not changed.

The Roman Catholic Church continues to preach the exact same message of salvation as it did in Luther’s time. Nothing has changed on their part. They still believe in indulgences, papal authority, sacred tradition, amongst many other heretical doctrines. Roman Catholics continue to hold to a works based salvation as seen in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from 1992, “Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life.” Much of the confusion rests in definitions of theological terms. In a time when Biblical literacy is at an all-time low, many have been fooled into thinking that Catholics means the same thing as we do when they say things like justification or even grace, they do not. Study their theology, understand that their definitions are faulty.

Evangelical churches are compromising.

Last year, I was at a “Baptist” pastors’ meeting in Saskatoon where many were gathered to discuss ministry. I heard from across the room several pastors, who should have known better, talk about how excited they were to hear the Pope’s message of reconciliation. Another stated that they were looking forward to attending a joint Lutheran-Catholic “Reformation” ceremony. I do not believe that this was an isolated event. This ideology of “tolerance” is everywhere among so called evangelical circles. It is not the Roman Catholics that have changed, it is the “evangelicals” who have compromised. In an effort to achieve peace with Catholics and a sense of unity among those who claim the name of Christ, they have compromised on truth. Yet, there remains a theological divide, a chasm between true Christians and mainstream Roman Catholicism, the divide is nothing less than the Gospel. It’s that essential. There can be no peace without theological unity and this division cannot be overlooked, it’s too important.

God’s Word demands it.

For those who have been entrusted with the Gospel, there is a definite mandate from God to defend that Gospel. Jude writes that we are to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Peter tells us to always be prepared to defend the faith. Paul tells the Corinthians that he destroyed thoughts and arguments contrary to the Gospel. Paul then tells the Galatians that even if he were to compromise on the Gospel to condemn him to Hell. God’s Word demands that Christians defend the Gospel at all costs. The Gospel matters more than what culture thinks of you, it matters more than your comfort level, and it even matters more than your life.

After all, the Apostles all were willing to die for the Gospel. The early church were willing to die for the Gospel under Roman persecution. Martin Luther was willing to die for the Gospel at the Diet of Worms. Why? Because the Gospel is more important than anything. So no, the Reformation isn’t over. We must still stand for the truth that was once for all delivered to the saints, no matter the cost.

- Dean

Cited Works: 

Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, 1992