BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – It’s been nearly 500 years since a monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, but a local pastor said the Reformation serves a place in today’s church, calling “the church back to God’s word.”
Modern Christians should not only celebrate it, but live it out, the Rev. Jason Krause, pastor of Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Bountiful, said.
Luther took his bold action on Oct. 31, 1517, putting into motion a change that would rock the church as it was then and change its face forever.
Reformation Sunday is generally observed on the Sunday closest to the 31st С Sunday, Oct. 26 this year. Lutheran and other Protestant churches will mark the day with special services.
Speaking of the Reformation, Krause said, “The Reformation still serves today to call the church back to God’s word.”
In Luther’s day, the teaching of grace and the proper teaching of the law was obscured, in part because of the teaching of Aristolean philosophy, Krause said. Like in the 1500s, the church today “is pulled in many directions to listen to and adopt this philosophy or this learning to make God’s word and teaching conform to it,” Krause said.
“People are reading God’s word and applying their own individual interpretation or their corporate interpretation to it instead of letting the text speak for itself or seeking the original intent and understanding of God’s word,” he said.
That makes it particularly important for today’s Christians to go back to His word and endeavor to be faithful to it, Krause said.
“At the same time, we should live as His people, not only in seeking to do what is right, but more importantly in trusting that all our sins and debts are forever removed from us. They are forever paid,” Krause said.
Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, didn’t see himself as defying the church. He wanted to see changes come to the church, not to break from it.
The castle doors faced the city’s main thoroughfare, so the doors served as a public bulletin board and seemed a logical place to post notices.
But the posting created controversy and Luther and his followers were excommunicated in 1520.
Luther was the first, and one of the best known of a number of church reformers throughout Europe who set out to make changes to the Roman Catholic church in the 16th century. Among other reformers who made their marks were John Calvin, Jan Huss and John Wyclife.
At that time, many in the church were troubled by what they saw as malpractices within the church, particularly surrounding the sale of indulgences.
Indulgences are described as the remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence was granted by the church after the sinner confessed and received absolution.
The impact the reformers had on the church was far ranging, Krause said.
They impacted education (believing everyone should receive some education); society (that serving in lowly vocations is still a godly work); government (that Christianity should not necessarily be tied to government); and the church.
Luther found both law and gospel in scripture, Krause said.
“God speaks words of law that teach us right and wrong but that consequently also condemns us because we are not able to do them.К We might think we can (or live under the delusion that we can) but the problem is that our hearts have been corrupted by sin. This is why Luther emphasizes grace over works,” he said.
Jesus Christ gave us a new heart, a new life, a new identity,” Krause said. By removing our sin, “(Jesus) acts on our behalf to give us the free gift of perfection, righteousness and holiness,” Krause said.
“This is grace С God’s free gift that doesn’t cost us anything, nor do we owe him anything for it,” Krause said.This is where Luther found comfort and why he pointed people to Jesus and to Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. Grace is God dealing with our sin and us restoring the glory of his creation by giving us what we lost.
“At the heart of (Luther’s) thesis, was the understanding of what repentance is,” Krause said.