- What Was the Reformation?
- Why Is The Reformation Still Important?
- Protestant Beliefs During the Reformation
- Institutional Change and Rebirth
- The Importance of Biblical Authority
- Equality and Opportunity for Women
The Reformation is something Christians today take for granted. Many of us are aware that the 16th century brought about a dramatic change in Christian thinking, as well as a redrawing of ecclesiastical boundaries. We’re also aware that this led to the splintering of Western Christianity into Catholics and Protestants and that these two groups remain estranged over this rift to this day. But did you know the Reformation continues to impact our lives today? Here are 5 reasons why it remains important 500 years later:
What Was the Reformation?
The Reformation is the name of a time when the Western Church attempted to reform itself. The word reform is key here because it doesn’t mean the Church attempted to transform into a different religion entirely. Rather, it attempted to correct the corruption and abuse within its ranks. The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses. This was a time of internal strife between Catholics and Protestants.
Why Is The Reformation Still Important?
For starters, the Reformation serves as a reminder that Christianity is not an outward monolithic, unchanging institution. Rather, it is a diverse, global family of faith that has always been in a state of change. The Reformation further reminds us that the Church is not infallible and that Christians are not obligated to follow its teachings blindly. Rather, the Church is made up of fallible individuals attempting to live out the gospel. This means that even the most devout followers of Christ can err. In fact, they do.
This fact was made abundantly clear during the Reformation when the Church’s abuse of power and authority led to a great rupture. The splintering of Christianity into Catholics and Protestants was a tragic event. Many people then did not know what scripture said; the church taught them by man-made traditions. It was a bright ray of light into darkness, and Roman Catholics could not put it out. Though the Roman Catholic has not yet recanted and repented of her idolatry, it remains clear 505 years after reformation that it had erred from scripture.
Protestant Beliefs During the Reformation
There are many different Protestant denominations, and not all of them subscribe to the same beliefs. However, there are a few Protestant beliefs that are common to all denominations. For example, all true Protestants believe that salvation comes by grace through faith alone, not through any good works done by a person. Protestants also believe that the Bible is the sole authority in the Church. This means pastors, bishops, and other Church leaders are prohibited from adding to the Bible’s teachings. In fact, leaders are not permitted to add anything that isn’t already in the Bible. Combined, these two beliefs make Protestants distinct from Catholics.
During the Reformation, Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church in large part because of these differences. On the other hand, Catholics believe salvation comes through God’s grace and works (i.e. the Eucharist, hail marys, good works, and venerations, etc.). They also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it is incomplete without Church teachings and the authority of the Pope.
Institutional Change and Rebirth
The Reformation led to great institutional change within Christianity. The Catholic Church’s authority was challenged by Protestantism and was forced to change its ways. This resulted in the Church becoming more democratic, with greater power and authority given to bishops and pastors at the local level. The move away from an authoritative, infallible Church also meant that Christians became aware of Roman Catholic Church traditions which could not be supported by scripture.
During the Reformation, Protestants came to believe that the Eucharist was a symbolic act and not a way to gain salvation. The Protestant Reformation also led to a rebirth of Christianity. It ended the stagnation that had set in among many Catholics, and it ushered in a new era of reform and growth. Protestantism proved to be a lasting phenomenon, and it reshaped Christianity in dramatic ways. It also enabled Christianity to bring its message to new places and people.
The Importance of Biblical Authority
Christians are guided by the Bible, and the Reformation emphasized the importance of this Book. The Bible is God’s word, and it is the supreme authority for all Christians. It also emphasized the need for all Christians to read the Bible for themselves. No person is permitted to make the Bible mean what they want it to mean. It also meant each believer was to read the scriptures and see if the church’s teachings were scriptural.
In doing so, Christians are able to recognize the authority of the Bible and the ways God is speaking to them through His word. This principle of reading the Bible for oneself also led to greater access to the Book. Prior to the Reformation, only Catholic clergy were permitted to read the Bible. But when Martin Luther translated it into German, he made the Word of God available to all. This was an important development, as it meant that the Bible could be read and understood without the need for an officer of the Church.
Equality and Opportunity for Women
Like many other aspects of the Reformation, the impact of this on the role of women in society has been debated. However, what is clear is that the Reformation both benefited and empowered women. It benefited women by providing them with more opportunities for education. This occurred largely at the expense of monasteries, which were forced to close during the Reformation.
It empowered women by challenging the authority of the Catholic Church, which had denied women opportunities for education. Before the Reformation, women were largely subservient to men and had very little authority and power. Although reformation never meant women to occupy the offices of bishops and pastors, women were able to teach other women and children about the Word of God and thus raise godly children. (Titus 2:4-5, Proverbs 22:6)
The Reformation is an important part of Christian history. It occurred when Protestants attempted to reform the Catholic Church, which led to a great division. This remains important today because it reminds us that Christianity isn’t based on the traditions and cultures of men.
The Bible alone is the rule of faith and practice to believers. A very simple turn from this can cause very great harm to the souls of men. The Reformation also reminds us that the Church is not infallible and that Christians are not obligated to follow its teachings blindly. It also shows us the importance of the Bible. Moreover, it illustrates the ways in which women were empowered by the Reformation and benefited from the changes that it introduced.