February /March 2017 - Vol. 90
500th Anniversary of the Reformation
rooted in Christ
Rediscovering the Vitality of Christian Roots through 500 Years of Reformation Spirituality

This year, 2017, presents a unique opportunity for Christians to participate in an Ecumenical Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. A number of Churches are holding ecumenical services for common prayer for renewal and reconciliation and a common witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is the center of their common faith, and a commitment to continue the journey to unity.

This issue (February/March) and the next one (April/May) will present some of the distinguishing features of reformation spirituality and the growth of renewal movements over the course of the past five centuries.

Five key themes:
  1. Being rooted and nourished in the Word of God (centrality of Scripture in reformation spirituality)
  2. Increasing in faith and abounding in the grace of Jesus Christ (biblical rediscovery of  the gift of God)
  3. Excelling in Love and Holiness (holiness movement and impact of Wesley, and others)
  4. Being Filled with the Gifts and Power of the Holy Spirit (20th century pentecostal movement, charismatic renewal movement, and covenant communities movement)
  5. Striving for Unity in Common Witness of the Gospel, Sharing Common Life and Mission Together as Brothers and Sisters in Christ (ecumenical movement and Sword of the Spirit network of ecumenical communities)

Links to articles on Reformation Spirituality and Commemoration of 500th Anniversary

From the February / March 2017 Issue of Living Bulwark:
An Introduction to the Age of the Reformation, by Timothy George
• Roots that Refresh: The Vitality of Reformation Spirituality, by Alister McGrath
Reading Scripture with the Early Reformers
• Your Word is Truth: Statement of Evangelicals and Catholics Together

From the April / May 2017 Issue of Living Bulwark:
• A Spiritual Orientation to 500th Reformation Anniversary, by Raniero Cantalemessa
• Justification: A Summary of Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and Joint Agreement
• Faith is not Opposed to Love: A Clarification on “By Faith Alone” by Benedict XVI
• Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Joint Statement on the Gift of Salvation

An Introduction to the Age of the Reformation: A Time of Transition and Revolutionary Change
by Dr. Timothy George

A "new world" in the making
The age of the Reformation was a time of transition, vitality and change that gave us the compass, the printing press, the telescope, gunpowder, the first map of the New World, the revival of the visual arts and letters (Michelangelo and Shakespeare), widespread inflation, the rise of the modern nation-state, wars of religion - and a word to describe all of this, revolution, from Nikolaus Copernicus's famous work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543).

A return to Scripture and the historic faith of the early church
The Protestant Reformation was a revolution in the original scientific sense of that word: the return of a body in orbit to its original position. It was never the desire of Luther to start a new church from scratch. He and the other reformers who followed in his tracks wanted to re-form the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church on the basis of the Word of God and to do so by returning to the historic faith of the early church as they found it set forth in the pure teachings of the Scriptures.

A revolution in religious life
This led to a fundamental reorientation in Christian theology. Luther's rediscovery of justification by faith alone, Zwingli's insistence on the clarity and certainty of the Bible, Calvin's emphasis on the glory and sovereignty of God and the Anabaptist quest for a true visible church all found expression in numerous new confessions, catechisms, commentaries, liturgies, hymns, martyrologies and church orders.

Like a great earthquake that continues to generate seismic aftereffects long after the first shock is over, the Reformation set in motion a revolution in religious life the effects of which are still being felt half a millennium later.

Dr. Timothy
                                GeorgeExcerpted from Reading Scripture with the Reformers, by  (c) Timothy George, 2011.

Dr. Timothy George (Th.D., Harvard University) is a renowned Reformation historian and author of Theology of the Reformers, as well as many other theological and historical works. He is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. He is a member of the advisory council for First Things. He is the general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series from InterVarsity Academic.

Reading Scripture
                                with the Reformers by Timothy George
Author, professor, and well-known Reformation church historian, Timothy George, has provided the church with an excellent introduction to Reformation - era principles of biblical interpretation, preaching, and commentary writing... George's volume is especially helpful in analyzing the way in which the Reformers read and interpreted Scripture and why their approach is of continuing benefit to the spiritual life of the contemporary church."
 - review by James M. Garretson
Reading Scripture with the Reformers
by Dr. Timothy George

published by InterVarsity Press, 2011
227 pages

G.R. Elton, an esteemed historian of an earlier generation, once wrote that "if there is a single thread running through the whole story of the Reformation, it is the explosive and renovating and often disintegrating effect of the Bible."'

This book is the story, or at least part of the story, of how the Bible came to have a central role in the sixteenth-century movement for religious reform that we call the Protestant Reformation.

There had been many Bible-based reform movements throughout the history of the church, beginning with monasticism, in which the Scriptures had a prominent place in the daily liturgy of the hours. Closer to the Reformation, the Bible had also been championed by late medieval movements of dissent-the Lollards in England, the Hussites in Bohemia and the Waldensians spreading from the Italian Alps to every corner of Europe. There were the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life who copied, read and taught the Bible in their many communities throughout Germany and the Low Countries. The old myth that there was complete ignorance of the Bible between the death of Augustine and the birth of Luther has long been exploded.
- quote from the Preface
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