Matthew Richey - September 13, 2020
Introduction: Why the Reformation Matters; Background to the Reformation
From Series: "Why We are Protestant"
High School history teachers often defend the relevance of their subject by telling us that “those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it.” I remember as a student thinking, “Okay, great – if I’m ever invading Russia I’ll make sure and avoid doing so in the winter like Napoleon did.” I think a better reason for studying history is that history helps us understand who we are and why. We study history to understand ourselves, our world, and our place in the world. As Christians, it is important to study history so that we understand why we are who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. In my experience, Christians are often knowledgeable about the history of the world, our country, our cities, and our sports teams, but are more often than not painfully ignorant of Christian history. This is to our detriment! Studying Christian history gives us tremendous insight on why things are the way that they are, why Christian truth is so important to maintain, and why certain divisions and emphases are found within likeminded churches. Studying Christian history enables us to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from their triumphs and failures as we hopefully build on the former and avoid the latter. One of the watershed moments of Christian history is the Protestant Reformation. As most of us know, more than 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on a church in Wittenberg, Germany, in protest against certain beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church of his day. Why? What did he hope to accomplish? Why was the subsequent split necessary? Does it still matter that we are Protestant? In our eight week study of the Reformation, we will study both the history and the ideas of the Reformation. The goal of this class will not be to know and recount names and dates, but rather to gain a better understanding of ourselves as Protestants and what that means for us today. Join us in our study of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and ourselves!