Tuesday, October 27, 2009
After moving and settling down in a new area of the country, I joined a Protestant church in the community. As part of the new member's class, we got an introduction to the denomination and an overview of church history. And Halloween of 1517 was a most important date.
October 31, 1517, Martin Luther had nailed "The Ninety-Five Theses" to the castle church door at Wittenberg, which outlined grievances against the Catholic Church, in particular the abuse of indulgences. Some historians have pinpointed this act as the catalyst of the Protestant Reformation and later the Counter-Reformation (also known as the Catholic Reformation or Revival), which sought to remove abuses within. Many Protestant churches see their genesis in the posting of Luther's "95 Theses."
In my new member's class, we covered the different styles of church government and traditions of the Catholic and various Protestant denominations. Which one is right?
Taking Luther's lead of Sola Scriptura, "by Scripture alone," the New Testament does not give details in governing or even following many cherished Christian traditions (like observing Christmas on December 25). What the New Testament gives are great principles and guidelines. Therefore, it seems that any system of church governance will work if there are godly leaders of character. Without godly character, it does not matter. No system will work.
Catholic? Protestant? Which is the "true" church?
The Scriptures say in Ephesians 4 (King James Version):
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Strong's Greek Dictionary gives our English translation of "church" as ekklesia, a called out assembly. The "one true church" is comprised of all believers whom Jesus Christ has called out to Himself.
In the words of St. Peter:
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
I Peter 2 (King James Version)
The church of the New Testament and the ancient creeds (Apostles, Nicene) transcend all denominations, whether Catholic, Protestant, non-denominational, evangelical ...
Using the Protestant definition of "saint" as any Christian, what more appropriate day for "all saints" to reflect than the Eve of All Saint's Day - Halloween in 1517 - a turning point, which called the church back to the Bible?
Photo from everystockphoto.com:
Martin Luther - everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2546814