The Study of the Church

Church History

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

Reformation Day. 500th Anniversary
October 31, 1517 / October 31, 2017

October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of his 95 theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany. For adherents of the church headquartered in the Vatican, this is a day of infamy. But for those of us who understand that the true Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, is bigger than Roman Catholicism, bigger than Greek Orthodoxy, and bigger than Protestantism, it is a day of freedom and truth.

I certainly do not agree with all that Martin Luther came to stand for. For example, I object strenuously to his tirades against Jewish people later in life, and I object to his eschatology. But I agree profoundly with his position that Truth with a capital T is to be found in the Scriptures, and not in any church tradition.

Martin Luther's impact is profound. His rejection of indulgences as a Biblical tradition was the blowtorch that ignited everything. His clearcut teaching that good works are the result of salvation, not the cause of it (Eph. 2:8-10), is monumental. His rejection of the pope as the final ecclesiastical authority is unimpeachable.

I agree with Roman Catholics that the denominations and splits in Protestantism are ugly. But as ugly as they are, I will take that ugliness any day over the ugliness of the many false teachings of the church headquartered in the Vatican.

Martin Luther did not start another church. And the Church that Jesus founded is not coterminous with the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus prayed for unity in His church (John 17:11, 20-22). Unless one wishes to conclude that Jesus is one who prays ineffectively, I necessarily conclude that there is today an organic, indivisible unity amongst all those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9-10). But the same Jesus who prayed for unity also prayed that God would set apart His followers "in the truth." And He concluded, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17). As long as the church headquartered in the Vatican continues to maintain that its traditions are just as authoritative and binding as the Word of God (Catechism, paragraph 82), organizational, ecclesiastical unity remains an impossibility.

One day, Jesus will return to take His entire Bride, the Universal Church, back with Him to heaven, to the "Father's House" (John 14:1-6). He will purge His bride of all her impurities so that she will have no spot or wrinkle or blemish (Eph. 5:25-27). She will be clothed with righteous deeds (Rev. 19:6-8). It is then that Jesus' High-Priestly prayer in John 17:1-26 will have its maximum effect. All we in the Church will then be perfected in unity! Even so, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).

(Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.)

Published November 2, 2017
Updated November 3, 2017

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