October is a month of high importance for people across the world whether they realize it or not. It is the month my first child was born! (J/K) While it is the month that my first child was born, this is not what would be of high importance for most people, although it definitely is for me. Historically, October is the month in which has been credited with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed a collection of writings most commonly known as The 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
These writings of Luther were intended to begin a conversation between the Catholic Church and himself in regard to many of the practices being employed as a means of salvation, and his questioning them as unbiblical. What is interesting about Luther and his relationship with the Catholic Church, he never sought to overthrow the church or begin a movement like the Protestant Reformation. Luther had a deep affection for the Catholic Church, being a good Catholic himself, and his attempt was to see it reformed in order to align more precisely with Scripture. However, this did not go as Luther had planned and the Reformation had begun.
Throughout the years, we have accredited the Protestant Reformation predominantly to Luther. While credit should be given where credit is due, Luther was not alone in his endeavors in seeking a biblical church and biblical church theology. Luther did a tremendous work, but Luther lit the fire of which many men after him would fan the flame. Men such as John Calvin, John Hus, William Tyndale, and Huldrych Zwingli to name a few. In addition to these men, hundreds of others through the years stood upon the tenets of the Reformation and are continuing to stand upon these tenets today. So what exactly are the tenets of the Reformation that are so important?
While numerous theological truths emerged from the Protestant Reformation, many hang their hat on five truths that sum up the dominant theology. They are known as the 5 Solas: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (God’s Glory Alone). These 5 Solas are dominant themes throughout the Reformation and should stand as dominant themes within the modern Protestant Church, or any church for that matter.
It is the idea that Scripture Alone is our sole source of authority. God has spoken through His word and the church does not stand over Scripture, Scripture stands over the church. Scripture is sufficient for every man in their pursuit of God and is to be followed in every area of life. Salvation is then by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Nothing outside of the gospel is needed in order to secure one’s salvation. Ephesians 2:1-10 is clear in regard to man’s salvation as God makes man alive by grace through faith in Christ. The Catholic Church is inundated with ways of obtaining salvation outside of the gospel. It is not the gospel plus something that saves, it is the gospel plus nothing. Then, all of this is for God’s Glory Alone. Everything in life is for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” You exist for the glory of God. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, you exist for God’s glory as everything else in all of creation exists for God’s Glory.
This is only a brief survey of the Protestant Reformation. I encourage everyone to further their studies of the Reformation and dive into the rich history that comprises all of us that are not Catholic. It is by God’s grace that He has brought us to where we are today and we stand upon the foundation of men like the Reformers as we carry on their legacy in the Lord’s Church for His glory and His glory alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!