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As I write this, we have been reading the Book of Luke. I thought it might interest some of you, to see what it was like, if you were a protestant of means, able to afford one of those new fangled things called a printed Bible. Some people refer the the King James Bible, as the authorized version. It was an authorized version, authorized by the King, and the translation was completed in 1611. This authorization was for the Church of England. While the Church of England was not Roman Catholic, neither was it properly protestant church. The King James Version, was commissioned, in part, to counteract the Bible popular with protestants, to help make it easier to maintain the religious hierarchy of the Church of England. The protestants were too critical of the Church of England for the Kinds tastes, so a new version was commissioned for use in the churches of the Church of England. Basically, the Church of England, was protesting the protestants. While the KJV is an "authorized version" it was the third authorize version. Prior to it, was the Bishops Bible, of 1568, and before that, was the Great Bible, of 1535. The King James version, as was said, is AN authorized version. It was not given the title of "The Authorized Version", until 1814. Lest you get the impression, that I am anti King James Version, I am not. I love the King James Version, and it has been EXTREMELY important in church history. It is a good version. There was a faction of the Church of England, known as the Puritans. They were not called the Puritans, because they were so pure and holy, though that is how many have come to think of that term. The Puritans, were about purging or purefying the church, not just of the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, but also from issues of having a church, run by a monarch. The Puritans believed that the Church of England, was still too "Catholic" in it's operation. The puritans believed in the priesthood of all believers, not an appointed caste of Popes and Bishops and the like. This did not earn them the admiration of Kings and Popes, so they were persecuted and exiled. They were protestants, in most senses of the word. The Bible of choice, among the Puritans, was the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible, was the first Bible to have chapter and verse numbers, and it was translated in 1560. It was carried on the Mayflower to America, and it was the most popular English Bible, during the period of the Protestant Reformation. Why this abbreviated history lesson on early English Bible versions? I wanted you to see how easy you have it. Bibles were not often in the hands of common people. The belief of the reformers, that the Bible should be available to all, and the invention of the printing press, was the beginning of the process that lead to mass Bible access. If you were a well off Protestant, over 400 years ago, what would you have seen? Here is page of a Bible (the Geneva Bible), that was printed in English, before the King James Version.
Well, it is just about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For those not familiar with that, it is a time in church history, where people were waking up to how far the church had degraded since it's inception. A reformation was needed, because church leadership, to a great degree, had become corrupted. Church positions were basically for sale to the highest bidder. The church was allowing people to buy indulgences, basically a license to sin, and shorten one's time in Purgatory. These could be used for yourself, or to shorten the time of a deceased loved one. Purgatory was basically seen as a place where a person paid for their sins by suffering until their sins were paid for and they could attain to heaven. In other words, the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross was deemed inadequate - definitely not the gospel, nor in the Bible. Church leadership (and by that I mean the Pope, Bishops, Cardinals, all the way down to priests) was falling prey to pride, sexual sin, hunger for power, greed and the like. The Bible was not yet in the hands of common people, nor was it necessarily in a language that ordinary people could understand, Christians were totally dependent, on what their leaders told them the Bible said, and what the Bible meant. That was a very quick summary of the conditions that had developed in the first 1500 years of the church. It is not my purpose to lecture anyone on church history, nor am I qualified to do so. I just wanted to give a quick background of what lead to the Reformation. Generally it is held, that the Reformation began when a German monk (Martin Luther) nailed his 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle. That can be debated, but it was certainly a pivotal event. Now, the main thing I came to do, was to open a discussion about the five "solas" of the reformation. These are 5 ideas, that sort of embody the spirit of the Reformation, the main things that were seen as needing to be addressed and focused upon in the church as it existed at the time. Luther's hope, was not to attack the church, or start a new denomination, nor anything of the sort. His hope was to start a bit of a dialogue or debate, an opportunity for the church to do a little self examination. Sola, comes from a Latin word meaning alone or sole. The solas are these: SOLA SCRIPTURA SOLA FIDE SOLA GRATIA SOLO CHRISTO SOLI DEO GLORIA Sola scriptura, is the idea, that only the scripture, is ultimately a trustworthy source of information about spiritual matters. The traditions of the church, lack any real authority. Likewise, the leadership of the church, was also not authoritative, and must be subservient to the word of God. Sola fide, is the idea that salvation comes by faith alone, not by works, God grants salvation, and believers do not earn it by doing good deeds. Sola gratia, is closely related to sola fide. It is the idea, that mankind does not earn, cannot earn, and can never deserve salvation. Salvation is a free gift that God bestows to believers, totally apart from any merit of their own. Solo Christo, addresses the subject of and object of the faith of believers who will inherit salvation. Our faith is in Christ alone. There is nothing or no one in which we place our faith apart from Christ. No faith in works, nor the church, nor Mary the mother of Jesus, not the saints, not our prayers or rituals - our faith is in Jesus alone, regarding salvation. Sola deo gloria, informs us that all glory, is due to God alone, no one else gets credit or glory for what God has done for us. Of course, this implies the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as the one true God. They could be stated, that the scriptures alone, authoritatively teach us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. That is what I have to say, to start this topic. If anyone chooses to, they may add to the discussion, elaborate, offer scripture, etc. I just thought it fitting, at this time of the impending 500 years anniversary of the Reformation, to offer some thought and reflection on what it was/is about.
As we enter the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation - is it time to declare its "demise" as Pope Francis announced a few years ago? "We are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist" (Martin Luther). D'Aubigné, b.6, ch. 9. By contrast 500 years after the reformation started -- who do Lutherans agree with? Luther? or Pope Francis? What about other Protesant groups - can any of them really get behind Luther's statement? In all fairness to Luther - the Popes had already been saying that same thing about each other - before Luther ever did. Maybe they were all wrong. OR where they? What makes anyone think that they might have all been right? What are your thoughts on this 500th anniversary year? ========================================== from: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/july-24th-2015/the-popes-great-evangelical-gamble/ "Somewhere in Pope Francis’s office is a document that could alter the course of Christian history. It declares an end to hostilities between Catholics and Evangelicals and says the two traditions are now “united in mission because we are declaring the same Gospel”. The Holy Father is thinking of signing the text in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, alongside Evangelical leaders representing roughly one in four Christians in the world today. Francis is convinced that the Reformation is already over. He believes it ended in 1999, the year the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation issued a joint declaration on justification, the doctrine at the heart of Luther’s protest."