On October 31, 1517 an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed a document to the door at the Wittenburg Church. His document, known as Ninety-Five Theses, was an invitation to discuss and debate Roman Catholic practices that he found questionable — particularly the sale of indulgences. Separation was never his intention and what happened next surely must have taken the him by surprise. Rather than engage papal authorities, he enraged them and in a short while the young monk was excommunicated. After bravely refusing to recant his writings at the Diet of Worms, Luther was deemed a heretic and forced into hiding. But it was too late! The Word of God had already been set loose. What started as a tiny spark spread like wildfire across Germany, Europe, and eventually the entire western world. Reformation influence could not be contained. How did such dramatic and world-wide transition come about in such a short while? I will let the man himself answer: “I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.”
On this special day, it was my noble intention to post a 3-part series on the woman whose life and labor freed Luther to accomplish all that he did. But my Katie is not ready. She is still in “Draft” form and the current temptation to hit “Publish” before the Morningstar of Wittenberg is ready must be resisted! Let us “not awaken love until the time is right.” Not to despair though, I will make it up to you! I’ve compiled a list of links I think you will enjoy!
- For starters, Ligonier presents a series of blog posts, excerpted from Pillars of Grace by Dr. Steven J. Lawson, about the major Reformers — Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale, Bullinger, and Calvin. The series is entitled “The Reformation and the Men Behind It.”
- If you like Christian Performing Artist, Max McLean as much as I do, you will want to listen to “Here I Stand.” It is a riveting narration of the events leading up to the Diet of Worms; his prayer the night before, his stirring defense, Eck’s rebuttal and, Luther’s final and most famous response.
- Dan Philips, in one of his earlier Reformation Day Roundup’s, offers a contrast between Luther and the “Christian” leaders of our day — and it’s not pretty!
What a point of contrast Luther serves to the namby-pamby lightweights of our day. Clearly Luther did not oppose Rome happily. Clearly he was aware that his life was in danger. Clearly, if another way could have been found that would have preserved his conscience and his church affiliation, he would have taken it. Yet at the real risk of the cost of everything, of “goods and kindred” and “this mortal life,” Luther stood forth and declaimed. By stark and shameful contrast, how many of today’s “leaders” won’t risk — not even life nor limb, but merely — their reputations as thoughtful, broad-minded moderates and academics; their connections to the similarly tepid; their Q Score; their associations; in short, their friendship with the world? There were giants in the land, in Luther’s day. In our day? Not so much.
- Here is another quote from the same post:
Luther was a man who accomplished great things heartily, and failed heartily. As free, Biblical Christians, we are right to learn and draw back from his errors and misstatements. But we also, in our timid and pallid day, stand in awe of such a man, gripped as he was with such passion for the Word and glory of God.
- This is a blog series that is near and dear to my heart. Most of us are familiar with the great figures of the Protestant Reformation. Names like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli are a few that come to mind. Yet, the story of the Reformation cannot be told without including the accounts of countless women who, alongside their male counterparts, played a vital role in the early formation of the Protestant Church. In 2012, Heavenly Springs hosted “Women of the Reformation,” a special series in which 12 women collaborated to present brief biographical sketches of women of the Reformation.
Here is a quote from the Prelude:
In the spirit of the Reformation, these women defied human tradition to lay hold of eternal life. For most, a stand for the Gospel would cost them all they had. It meant enduring evil and hurtful slander from the religious establishment. Many were suddenly catapulted into a world of isolation and treated harshly by those who thought they were doing God a service. Some were called to lay down their lives and make the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, all of these women inherited something better and they stand with the throng of witnesses described in Hebrews 12 as an encouragement for us today.
Contrary to the world Luther lived in, this quote reflects his high regard for the value of women:
The home, cities, economic life, and government would virtually disappear. Men can’t do without women. Even if it were possible for men to beget children and bear children, they still couldn’t do without women.” – Martin Luther
- The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has published a chapter from Stephen Nichols’s, A Monk and Mallet called, “Women in Black Too: The Untold Story of the Women and The Reformation.” This chapter is, in part, the inspiration for “The Women of the Reformation” Series at Heavenly Springs. You can read it here.
- Did you know that if it weren’t for Katie Luther, we might not have “The Bondage of the Will”? True story. You can read about it here.
- And speaking of women and the Reformation, Diane at Theology for Girls has written a feature presentation on Katherine Parr who, despite being married to the most difficult and dangerous man in the world, is one of the most influential women of the Reformation. Diane is also giving away 2 excellent Reformation books. You can enter here. The giveaway ends Friday so hurry on over.
- There are many blogs out there authored by Christians who seem to have hearts that beat for the Reformation. Here are two of my favorites: James Swan at Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics and Rachel Miller at A Daughter of the Reformation.
- As a Polican-Jew — if you need a definition of that word, it means someone of Polish, Puerto Rican and Jewish descent — some of Luther’s writings regarding Jews can be very disconcerting. How do we, as Reformation loving Christians, process all of this? I found this article at Reformation 21 to be helpful. James Swan at Beggars All has also written on this topic.
- Anyone who has ever read or listened to Dr. Steven J. Lawson knows how he brings history to life. Here he is, doing what he does best, teaching on: “The Preaching of the Reformation: Martin Luther and John Calvin” and “The Five Solas of the Reformation“
And finally, I leave you with a quote from none other than the Prince of Preachers on the most pressing need of the hour.
“We need, again, Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitfields—men fit to mark eras—whose names breathe terror in our enemies’ ears. We have dire need of such! Where are they? From where will they come to us? We cannot tell in what farmhouse or village smithy, or schoolhouse such men may be, but our Lord has them in store. They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church and will come in due time.
He has power to give us back, again, a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great Divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age which many of us account to have been the golden age of theology! He can send, again, the men of studious heart to search the Word and bring forth its treasures! The men of wisdom and experience rightly to divide it! The golden-mouthed speakers who, either as sons of thunder or sons of consolation, shall deliver the message of the Lord which the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven. When the Redeemer ascended on high He received gifts for men and those gifts were men fit to accomplish the edification of the Church, such as evangelists, pastors and teachers. These He is still able to bestow upon His people! It is their duty to pray for them, and when they come, to receive them with gratitude.
Let us believe in the power of Jesus to give us valiant men, and men of renown, and we little know how soon He will supply them!” - Charles Spurgeon