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Remembering the reformation

By Bishop Felix Orji, DD
31 October 2021   |   4:04 am
The 504th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation comes up today, Sunday, October 31, 2021. Some historians tell us that the Reformation officially began on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church...

“Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda Secundum Verbum Dei” (The church reformed, always reforming according to the Word of God) – Jodocus van Lodenstein, 1674 

The 504th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation comes up today, Sunday, October 31, 2021. Some historians tell us that the Reformation officially began on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church on its dogma regarding indulgences, purgatory, penance, and works -righteousness. He did this by nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany. He also mailed those 95 Theses to two Bishops- “one to Albrecht the Archbishop of Mainz … the other to … Jerome [Scultetus] the Bishop of Brandenburg.” While Luther had no idea of the impact his challenge would make on the world, his actions changed the course of history and that of the church in Europe and beyond. They unintentionally, yet officially, triggered what is now known as the Protestant Reformation to the praise of God.

The “undivided church” of the first 1000 years of Christian history” was not infallible. The Protestant Reformation happened because the Roman Catholic Church began to stray from the apostolic faith of Scripture and by the Middle Ages, it had strayed so badly that God mercifully initiated godly protest and reform that metamorphosed into what we now call the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther was one of the main instruments used by God to finally initiate a much-needed reformation of the Church.

Anglicanism is a product of this Reformation – our theology, our liturgy, our tradition, and our ethics were all influenced tremendously by the 16th century Reformation. However, modern Anglicanism is losing its grip on the central theology of the English Reformers who insisted that we must return to Scripture and the teaching of the Church Fathers before the Roman Church distorted them. Therefore, as we celebrate this 504th anniversary, I encourage you to turn your attention to the theological legacy of the Reformation, specifically the primacy and authority of Scripture in all matters of Faith and Practice and the fact that “Salvation is by ‘grace alone’ through ‘faith alone’ in ‘Christ alone’.” Only when we draw on the depths of these truths will our churches and our outreach become effective. And only when we hold on to these truths will the believer’s assurance of salvation be strengthened and the Church’s ministry and mission be revived to the glory of God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria! “We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another.” – Dr. R. C. Sproul
Let us pray: “Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Saviour.  Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer).

May the Lord use us as His instruments of transformation of lives and the reformation of His Church, as we pay heed to his Holy Word.
(The Rt. Rev Dr Felix Orji, OSB, is the Diocesan Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the West and the Coordinating Bishop of the Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM). Holy Trinity Cathedral Church, 8402, Howell Sugarland Road Houston, Texas, 77083)

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