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7 Reasons To Celebrate The Reformation

October 29, 2013

Every year on October 31 our families observe a celebration of the Protestant Reformation.  (For those who don’t know, we celebrate on the 31st because that is the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, thus sparking what the world has come to know as The Reformation.)  We’ve done progressive dinners, potlucks, hymn sings and other fun gatherings of friends and family.  Every year our children write essays or do art projects inspired by the Reformation.  We have come to the conclusion that  Church history is an integral part of our children’s education.


Here are a few reasons you should include a Reformation study and celebration into your family calendar:

1. The English Bible.  The Bible, the best-selling book of all time.  It’s hard to believe that at one time you couldn’t buy a Bible.  Hard to believe that only those in vocational religious life (monks and priests) read the Bible.  This was because there was not a Bible in the English language!  Enter the Reformer John Wycliffe.  Wycliffe (1320-1384) who was the first to accomplish a full and accurate translation of the Bible into English.  For this he was called a heretic.  So hated was he that 43 years after his death his body was dug up, burned, and dumped into the river.  But that certainly didn’t solve the problem of what to do about the heretic Bible translator.  In fact, it was written of his ashes: “Thus the brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which now is dispersed the world over.”  If you value your freedom to read the Bible in your mother-tongue, you can thank Wycliffe.

2. The English Language.  Bible translation was instrumental in the development of the English language we speak today.  So many common phrases we take for granted as part of the greater culture have their roots in the Tyndale translation of the Bible.  Reformer and Luther contemporary William Tyndale (1494–1536) was the first to translate the Bible into English directly from Hebrew and Greek and the first one to take advantage of the printing press!  Thanks to his brilliant linguistic skillz we have the phrases a moment in time, judge not that you not be judged, my brother’s keeper, gave up the ghost, the signs of the times,  fight the good fight and so many others! If you love the English language, you can thank Tyndale for the way it developed its prose.

3. Women’s rights. You can forget about the right to vote, hold office, or buy property.  The first women to trail-blaze women’s rights were those who fled to Reformer John Calvin’s (1509-1564) Geneva.  It was called a haven for women.  Women and children could flee there and be protected from abusive husbands.  Husbands were not allowed to beat their wives in Calvin’s Geneva.  In addition, Calvin cracked open a theological door for greater female participation in Church matters when he put the concept of women covering their heads and speaking in an assembly in the category of “adiaphora” (meaning optional, neutral and open to the interpretation of the Congregation).  This led to others applying his same reasoning to other religious biases against women.  In addition, he allowed, at times, when circumstances warranted it, for women to speak or pray in church.

4. The Foundations of Just Government.  Don’t you love not belonging to a state mandated church.  We do, too. For that we can thank the Anabaptist Reformers who widely spread the ideas of the Separation of Church and State.  They also famously advocated Religious Tolerance. For their pains they were persecuted fiercely by both the new Protestants and Catholics.  Felix Manz, Anabaptist leader, was drowned and the city officials said, “He has sinned against the waters of baptism, so by baptism shall he die.”

5. The Civil Rights Movement. Again, we can look to the Anabaptist Reformers for the concept of non-violence to create change.  It was a pretty radical idea in the 1500’s when change was commonly created at the end of the sword.

 “Once more, Christ is our fortress; patience our weapon of defense; the Word of God our sword; and our victory a courageous, firm, unfeigned faith in Jesus Christ.” Menno Simons, 1539

6. The Counter Reformation.  As a sort of response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church had its own reformation which began at the Council of Trent (1545–1563).  The Church was faced with firmly, decisively and finally dealing with corrupt bishops and priests, the selling of indulgences and other financial abuses.  From this revival (for indeed it was a time of true revival in the church all over the known world) we received some of our greatest mystics and saints: St. Ignatius of Loyola (who founded the Jesuits and was a champion of the poor), St. John of the Cross (whose words comfort us in the “dark night of the soul”) and St. Teresa of Avila (who taught us the practices of “mental prayer” and contemplation).

And last, but not least…

7. Beer. If you like a good micro-brew as we do and you find that it doesn’t conflict with your faith, you can raise a glass in thanks to Martin Luther who famously said, “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”  Interestingly, his wife, Katharina Von Bora ran a brewery out of their home to support the ministry.  Who’d thought it! Your faith, brought to you by beer!

Interested in teaching your children (or even yourself!) Church History, but don’t know where to start?  We have written an introduction to Church History that we have used with success and delight from our own children.  It’s called Sounds of Revival!  Learn Church History through the beautiful music of the Church, beginning with the Reformation and continuing on to the current day!  You can see sample pages here and order from our Resource Page.

Sounds of Revival

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Georgina permalink
    October 29, 2013 7:54 pm

    Wow. Reading these 7 points have taught me how much I do not know about the Reformation. Gotta get out from under this rock ;/ Thank you Provision Room!

  2. October 30, 2013 3:22 am

    I enjoy your blog, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. I think there’s little to celebrate about the destruction of Christian unity. You are right the Church definitely needed to do some reforming, but I don’t think 25,000 (and counting) different Christian denominations is what Luther had in mind. In fact, it was because of a lack of unity and authoritative teaching that my husband and I started reading, praying and researching and eventually became Catholic. I can agree with you on enjoying a good beer – but monks having been making it for centuries, so I think we would have had that with our without a schism. Still, even if Christians aren’t united in worship doctrine, I know we are united and love of Christ. God bless!

    • October 30, 2013 6:11 am

      Thank you so much for your comment. We understand. We really do. Lack of unity is a very disheartening thing. (Notice that one reason we love the Reformation is because of the Counter Reformation. We have a deep appreciation for the Catholic Church.)

      Our goal, however, is to see everything through the lens of God’s redemptive work in the world. In spite of happenings surrounding the Reformation that were divisive, we “hold onto the good” seeing how God is using all things to redeem a broken world.

      Thankfully we have this promise: “And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) Nothing will be left out. Catholics and Protestants united in Christ. In the meantime we rejoice in what good was done–Bible translation, the development of our language, advancement in women’s and civil rights and the foundations of our government.

      God bless you as we both look forward to that day when (as the song goes) “all the streams flow as one river to wash away our brokenness”!

      • October 30, 2013 11:00 am

        Whew. I’m grateful that you took my response in the spirit in which it was intended – a charitable discussion with a sister in Christ. I suspected you had respect/knowledge for the Catholic Church when you mentioned some of her great saints in your post.

        I agree. Our God is able to use all things for His purposes and that one day Catholics and Protestants will rejoice together in Heaven. That said, I can’t help but be sad when I think of what a beautiful witness it would be to the world if Christians were of one mind. Until the, I hope all of us can continue to enjoy lively charitable discussions and good beer. 🙂

      • October 30, 2013 7:10 pm

        I’d like to also add that I have a deep appreciation for the Protestant faith. I was not raised Catholic. It’s from my Protestant faith that I was baptized and grew to know and love scripture. I owe a debt of gratitude to the pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders who gave me a firm background in Christ. I’m still not planning to celebrate the reformation, but I do have a fondness for my Protestant upbringing.

      • November 1, 2013 2:20 pm

        Thanks for the lovely interaction on what is often a touchy subject. It’s always our great challenge and ambition to “hold onto the good.” ❤

  3. Mama permalink
    October 30, 2013 9:22 am

    Fun stuff!

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