Friday, October 30, 2009

Why We Celebrate October 31st

We like to celebrate on October 31st. It is a fun day to get together with friends. It is a great day for fellowship and food. It is enjoyable to talk about amazing things that have happened in the past - some of them scary things.

I'm not talking about Halloween (we don't celebrate it). I'm talking about Reformation Day.

Reformation Day is a celebration of what began in earnest on October 31st, 1517. On that day, the German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This was one of the first acts in the great Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation, while not perfect, was an attempt by various different people to return to the bible as the only authority for the Christian life. This flew in the face of the established traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther, for one, wanted to see reform within the Catholic Church. Despite his desires, he was cast out.

The Reformers taught us to look to the bible for what it means to be right with God. Luther rightly emphasized that we cannot be justified by our works. Instead, justification only comes through faith (which in itself is a gift of God).

Out of the Reformers' teachings came the "5 Solas of the Reformation." These are:

Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory of God Alone

We have much to celebrate on the 31st. Let's enjoy and live out these solas.


Aussie John said...


What great men to thank God for, and a great day to celebrate, but (there's always a 'but'), far too many who call themselves Christian, don't seem to understand that those momentous times were only a part of a tentative step from darkness into light. Far too many of us, who love those great doctrines you mention, forget that the reformation was, and still is, an ongoing work. Essentially ecclesiology is still very much in the dim light before the dawn.

Eric said...


It is fascinating (and troubling) that the Reformers were so biblical regarding salvation, but so far from the biblical model for the church. The Anabaptists were much more biblical in their ecclesiology, but sadly were basically killed off by everyone else.

Arthur Sido said...

The big problem is that too many people see "semper reformanda" as a call to return to the 16th century instead of the 1st. The Reformation was only a start not an end unto itself.

Eric said...


I agree.

The Reformers had a wonderful opportunity to work for biblical reform is all areas of life. I wonder why they focused on salvation, but did not give as much thought to the church.

Arthur Sido said...

I think a lot of it was pragmatic. Luther needed a state sponsor to prevent widespread slaughter of Protestants. In other words, it is my opinion that Luther wedded himself to the institutional, "everyone in a given locale" model of church for practical reasons, not theological ones.

Eric said...


I think you are correct. It's sad that the Anabaptists, who were trying to be biblical about the church but had no state sponsor, were basically killed off in the early stages of the Reformation.