It’s the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and right now there’s no shortage of material being published on the topic. Why might this 9Marks Journal possibly add to the pile?
We asked our contributors to consider the Reformation’s relevance specifically to the local church and the pastor. Why should pastors care? Take a look at D. A. Carson’s piece. What does it have to do with expositional preaching, evangelism, church discipline, church authority more broadly, the ordinances, even pastoral counseling? There are articles on each of these topics, too.
There is, of course, a danger in idealizing the past. Brad Littlejohn’s piece offers a crucial warning. But there might be a greater danger in forgetting it altogether. For instance, Michael Reeves’ piece on expositional preaching quotes John Calvin’s characterization of pre-Reformation sermons. They were filled, says Calvin, with “sweet stories” and “not unamusing speculations” and “only a few expressions . . . thrown in from the Word of God.” That sounds like a decent description of much preaching today, no?
Start, therefore, with Stephen Nichols’ piece. It takes you back in time, and lets you imagine what you might have heard in church the Sunday before Luther nailed his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door. It’s a snapshot of what the Reformers were responding to—the darkness that prevailed across “Christian” Europe.
Then ask yourself how you might teach your congregation about the Reformation. So far in 2017, Mark Dever has devoted every sermon introduction and conclusion to teaching his church this history. How are you equipping your church with knowledge of the wisdom and folly of the past? If you haven’t been doing this, I’m excited about the wonderful stories and truths your church still gets to learn from those who came before us—like hearing a great symphony for the first time!