I sent this out earlier to the Briercrest community. I thought I’d post it here as well.
P.S. Apparently scholars debate whether in fact Luther actually did post the theses as the story goes. But even if the the story is “apocryphal,” it is still the case that October 31 IS Reformation Day in the Church year.
For those who have forgotten what day it is today, let me remind you that it is Reformation Day. It was on this day 491 years ago, on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the Church door at Wittenberg–an act which Luther surely could not have anticipated would result in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
Recently, some (such as eminent evangelical historian Mark Noll) have been asking whether the Reformation is over, especially since there is a much greater willingness amongst Catholics and Protestants to work together for the cause of the Gospel, and since many of the old schisms that used to divide us seem to be closing. For example, though not everyone yet buys into all the conclusions of the 1999 “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church, it is nevertheless true that the differences between Catholics and Protestants are not nearly as great as they used to be, even on this fundamental doctrine which was at the centre of the original Protest. Add to this the reality that the last pope (John Paul II) and the current pope (Benedict XVI) have sounded more “evangelical” in our ears than ever, and one wonders whether the Reformation really is over.
However, major differences still do exist and we are still quite a way from saying that the issues raised by Luther and the reformers which followed him so many years ago are no longer relevant. What we can affirm today, though, is that God by his Spirit is continuing to work to reform and renew his Church, the body of Christ. As outwardly the challenges to being a faithful Christian in our country today seem to be increasing, we can be thankful that Jesus is building his Church and nothing, not even the gates of Hades, can prevail against it, even though it continues to be ever in need of reformation, indeed, transformation, into the image of Christ the Lord and Head of the Church.
Happy Reformation Day!