The Reformation in Europe during the 16th century was one of the most important epochs in the history of the world. The Reformation gave us the Bible now freely available in our own languages. The now almost universally acknowledged principles of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutionally limited Republics were unthinkable before the Reformation. The Reformers fought for the principles that Scripture alone is our final authority, Christ alone is the head of the Church and justification is by God's grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by faith alone.
Few people today realise that the first Bibles printed into English had to be smuggled into England, and that the Bible translator, William Tyndale, was burnt at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.
The extra-ordinary attempt by US president Barak Hussein Obama to deflect attention from violent Islamic Jihad by condemning the Inquisition as 'evil done in the Name of Jesus Christ', should make us take a fresh look at the Inquisition:
One of the re-occurring accusations against Christianity is that Christians are responsible for: "The Inquisition!"
Frequently, while trying to love one's neighbour and share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians receive some tirade against "The Church" and "The Inquisition!" The Inquisition is used as some kind of general-purpose club with which to bludgeon Evangelical Christians.
On one occasion while I was being interviewed on a national secular radio programme, on the publication of my book: Biblical Principles for Africa, the first caller attacked me, and my book, over something that the book doesn't even deal with - she claimed that Christians were responsible for 'the Inquisition' which 'burned thousands of witches!'
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them." Matthew 7:15-16
STEPHEN VII (896-897AD)
"He dug up a Corsican predecessor, Pope Formosus (891-896), when he had been dead for over nine months. He dressed the stinking corpse in full pontificals, placed him on the throne in the Lateran and proceeded to interrogate him personally. After being found guilty, the corpse was condemned as an anti-pope, stripped and minus the two fingers with which he had given his fake apostolic blessing, was thrown into the Tiber." (Vicars of Christ - the Dark Side of the Papacy by Father Peter de Rosa).
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Western civilisation has been blessed with the greatest freedom, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilisation is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.
First Things First
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33
In the book of Judges we read about another generation, which arose, which knew neither the Lord nor what He had done (Judges 2:10). Today, it appears that a generation has arisen, which like Israel under the Judges, knows little of either the Lord nor of what He did during the time of the Protestant exodus and the struggles in the wilderness, which followed in the 16th and 17th century. Sometimes this is from a cowardly dislike of controversy and confrontation. But few people seem to understand either the evils from which the Reformation delivered us or the blessings, which the Reformation won for us.
THE REFORMATION DELIVERED THE CHURCH FROM GROSS IGNORANCE AND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS
The church, before the Reformation, was a church without the Bible. And a church without a Bible is as useless as a lighthouse without light, a candlestick without a candle, or a motor vehicle without an engine. The priests and people knew scarcely anything about God's Word or the way of salvation in Christ.
1.King Alfred the Great - The Reformer King
King Alfred of Wessex (849-901) lived through tumultuous times and, in his 30 years reign, he personally commanded in 54 pitched battles against the invading Danish Vikings. King Alfred began the process of converting the blood-thirsty Viking invaders to Christianity. Alfred was both a great soldier and scholar, a law-maker, educator, author and Reformer. Alfred was a dedicated Christian, the first to translate the Gospels, and other parts of the Bible, into English. He donated half of his personal income to Church schools and founded numerous schools. He was recognised as the Father of the English Navy and he gave England a stable system of laws based upon God's Law. King Alfred's Dooms (The Common Law) began with The 10 Commandments, the Laws of Moses, the Golden Rule of Christ, and other Biblical principles from the Sermon on the Mount. No other sovereign did more in battle, in establishing law, promoting the education of his people and bringing his enemies to Christ.
31 October is Reformation Day. The message of The Greatest Century of Reformation is both important and urgent. We want God to bless our countries. But we cannot expect God to bless those who are in rebellion to His Laws. Our societies need Reformation and our churches need Revival.
As in the days of the Reformers, today we are facing both internal and external threats. Internally we are facing a renaissance of paganism. Externally we are facing threats from an aggressive radical Islamic Jihad.
Even more seriously, there is a crisis in our churches. Most of our people are ignorant of history, and have a very superficial grasp of Scripture. As a result, many professing Christians are compromising, cowardly and ineffective. Our churches are filled with weak and worldly, lukewarm and inactive members. In many cases the salt has lost its flavour, and the light is being hid under a bushel.
To listen to the audio of Back to the Bible – Zwingli Style on From the Frontline, click here.
To watch the video of this presentation, click here.
To listen to the audio lecture as presented to the Reformation Society, click here.
1 January marks the birthday of Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli and of the launch of the Reformation in Switzerland. It was on 1 January 1519 that Ulrich Zwingli began expositionary preaching in Zürich, starting with the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1. Ulrich Zwingli was the father of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born and raised in the Alps, Zwingli was one of the most colourful and audacious characters in Swiss history. A devout student of Scripture, Zwingli was transformed and shaped by the Word of God. He has been described as "an amazing combination of intellect, passion and wit."
Man of the Mountains
Born at an altitude of 3,600 feet (1,100 metres), the son of the Mayor of Wildhaus, Zwingli studied in Bern, Basel, and Vienna. In 1506, he received his MA degree. As a pastor in Glarus, Zwingli served as a chaplain with Swiss mercenary soldiers in Italy. The Swiss regularly hired out their men to fight for foreign powers. At that time, the Swiss generally believed that their national economy depended on this war industry.
From the Middle Ages until about the middle of the 20th century, Latin was a central part of a man’s schooling in the West. Along with logic and rhetoric, grammar (as Latin was then known) was included as part of the Trivium – the foundation of a medieval liberal arts education. From Latin, all scholarship flowed and it was truly the gateway to the life of the mind, as the bulk of scientific, religious, legal and philosophical literature was written in the language until about the 16th century. To immerse oneself in classical and humanistic studies, Latin was a must.
Grammar schools in Europe and especially England during this time were Latin schools and the first secondary school established in America by the Puritans was a Latin school as well. But beginning in the 14th century, writers started to use the vernacular in their works, which slowly chipped away at Latin’s central importance in education. This trend for English-language learning accelerated in the 19th century; schools shifted from turning out future clergymen to graduating businessmen who would take their place in an industrializing economy. An emphasis on the liberal arts slowly gave way to what was considered a more practical education in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Ten years after Dr. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church door, a plague-ravaged Germany. Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, who was pregnant at the time, turned their home into a hospital for people suffering from the plague.
To Flee or Not to Flee?
Pastor Johann Hess asked Luther for advice. Luther responded with a tract titled, Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.
Love your Neighbour
Luther’s priority was to follow Christ’s teaching:, “As much as you did to one of the least, you did to Me” Matthew 25:40.