Reformation 500 Celebration
15TH OCTOBER 2017 :: 29TH OCTOBER 2017
31st October 2017 marks 500 years since the decisive start of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, when a protesting monk named Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
Those theses, or statements, served as a series of challenges for the Catholic church to answer to, and a call for reform. The conflict that followed this act changed the course of world history. As a church in the Reformed tradition we also trace our heritage back to this time when many of the core ideas behind medieval faith and life were called into question, and many biblical truths were recovered.
Pulled Pork and Martin Luther
To celebrate such a significant anniversary we asked Dr. James Eglinton, Meldrum Lecturer in Reformed Theology at New College, University of Edinburgh, to give two lectures looking at the history and theology of the Reformation. This Sunday was the first of our lecture evenings, straight after our regular worship service. We enjoyed a delicious pulled pork dinner followed by an excellent lecture, and we were so glad to welcome many of our friends who joined us on the night.
Dr. Eglinton focused on the history surrounding Martin Luther and his ninety-five theses. The medieval Catholic church was a corrupt and financially shaky institution, which led over time to an atmosphere of discontent and protest from groups such as the Franciscans, and individuals like John Wycliffe in England and Jan Hus in Bohemia. But various developments, including the invention of the printing press, made Luther’s protest particularly powerful and far-reaching.
Why does the Reformation matter?
The question that fuelled Luther’s work and lay behind his protest was, on what basis can a person be right with God? The answer that he found in the Bible ultimately led him to say that neither the church nor a person’s good works are able to put anyone in a right relationship with God. In fact, said Luther, nothing but faith in Jesus Christ and his works alone can make anyone right with God.
This was an excellent opportunity to learn more about our own history, and how we have come to enjoy many of the things we most value in today’s society. Dr. Eglinton pointed out, for instance, that widespread literacy and the ability to read for ourselves what the Bible says in own our languages, came out of the Reformation.
The Reformation also led to increased social freedoms, particularly the ability to live a full life outside of the authority of the church. This shift came directly from Luther’s challenge to the Catholic church, his conviction that the Bible had greater authority than the church for the Christian and his biblical belief that the church did not have the power to put anyone in a right relationship with God.
As Dr. Eglinton said, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from it’s quite hard to know who you are in the present, and where you’re going in the future.” This is something that we appreciate as a church, and we hope these lectures will give us a greater understanding of our heritage, and continue to raise thoughts and questions as time goes on.
The Celebration Continues...
We are thoroughly looking forward to our next, and final, Reformation 500 lecture, where Dr. Eglinton will be looking more at the theology of the Reformation. This will be held on Sunday 29th October, and if you’re in Leith we invite you warmly to join us.
When? Sunday 29th October. 6pm for food, with the lecture running 6:30 – 7:30pm.
Where? 31 Bangor Road, Leith EH6 5JA (map)
Price? £2 suggested donation (to cover food costs)