Our last post talked about the holiday that springs to most people’s minds when they think about October 31—Halloween. But Christians have another reason to celebrate today: it’s Reformation Day! If you’re not familiar with the Protestant Reformation, today’s a perfect day to read up a bit on one of the most influential events in all of church history.
Although there’s only one Reformation Day each year, the actual Reformation was spread across many years and involved many different people—theologians, preachers, writers, and everyday Christians. The Wikipedia entry provides a good rundown of the Reformation. If you want to delve more deeply into the people and events that make up the Reformation, the Christian History Institute can help:
- There’s no question that the most famous figure of the Reformation was Martin Luther, who nailed the famous 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg church. He’s also famous for his defiant words when charged by the Church to recant: “Here I stand; I can do no other.”
- John Calvin was another major Reformation figure. Among other things, he “reformed” the city of Geneva, Switzerland, and his ideas continue to exert a major influence on Christianity today.
- John Hus was another early reformer who challenged the sale of indulgences by the Church. His story has a grimmer ending the some of his fellow reformers: he was burned at the stake in 1415.
- John Wyclif also preached out against unscriptural practices in the 14th century church. Church authorities were so upset by his ideas that after his death, “orders were given for his writings to be destroyed, his bones exhumed and burned, and the ashes to be thrown into the nearby river”!
The Reformation might seem like dry and boring history at first glance—but a glance at any of the above articles shows that it was a movement based around some truly fascinating individuals whose hearts burned with a desire to see the Christian church set back on a Biblical course. Read up on some of these characters—you might find yourself with a deeper appreciation for the hard work and fearless preaching that shaped the church as it exists today!