¡Viva La Reformación! Kendall Lankford
October 26, 2017
Five hundred years ago this month, the Protestant Reformation – led by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and others – exploded upon the scene of Catholic Europe, changing the face of the Western civilization, and the world for that matter, as we know it. At the heart of the Reformation was an acknowledgment that the church had gone astray and that a radical reformation was absolutely necessary to bring the bride of Christ back into faithful, Biblical union with Him.
One way this was accomplished was by getting the Word of God into the hands of every believer in the common marketplace in languages they spoke. Prior to the Reformation, the Bible had only been translated into Latin, which only the priests and highly educated elites could read.
This meant that if you wanted to know God’s Word, you would have to go to a priest to hear about it.
The reformers acknowledged that reading the Bible is not for an elite group of Christians who got to tell everyone what it says (which led to great corruption and abuse of power), but it is for all Christians who are called to work out their salvation with fear and trembling! So they busied themselves with the monumental tasks of translating the Hebrew Old Testaments and Greek New Testaments into the vernacular of the common man.
This idea was not universally accepted. Some men, like William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English were brutally murdered for their efforts. Some others, like Luther, who translated the Bible into German, lived his life on the run as a fugitive until the day he died. Fueled by the newest technology, Gutenberg’s movable type printing press, the Bible was soon translated and disseminated to the masses, which led to a
widespread hunger for God’s Word and revival.
Five hundred years later, I am afraid to say we have fallen into a pitiful and similar sort of tragedy the reformers faced so long ago. After five hundred years, we have reverted back into a new kind of Wordlessness. Unlike the reformers’ day, when it was illegal to possess the Word in common tongue, now we have a proliferation of Bibles, such that many Christians now own several dusty copies. Men’s Bibles, women’s Bibles, study Bibles, journaling Bibles, and any other marketable Bible you could think of are lining our shelves, but for all the efforts we have made to make that Living Word available, we are a Wordless culture, willingly illiterate of it Truth, insisting someone else more qualified tell us about it. Instead of reading the Bible for ourselves and submitting our lives under the authority of Scripture, we have gladly allowed a select few experts to weekly spoon feed us milky truth, while we are starving throughout the week. While men and women were once murdered for producing, owning, reading, and memorizing these sacred texts, we struggle to even open them. We are in need of reformation!
My prayer is that reformation would take hold again. That men, women, and children would long and return to the pages of Holy Scripture. That we would see it as the treasure it truly is, read it for ourselves, be changed by it, and watch the foundations of the world be shaken loose once again. My prayer is that 500 years from now, should our Lord decide to tarry, history would remember us, not as the generation that abandoned God and His Word, but one that embraced it in FULL!
May the spirit of the reformation grip our hearts!