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Historical information on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

Blog Post

European Reformation: Luther And The Struggle For Salvation

When Martin Luther entered the Augustinian monastery, he had one goal—and that was the salvation of his soul. The picture above shows the altar where he performed his first mass, and in front of it is a gravestone upon which he knelt to say his vows of obedience and chastity. Also, I’ve included a picture of the last monastic cell in which he stayed in Erfurt, Germany. Luther was terror stricken at the thought of Christ as Judge. He sought to lay hold of every means of grace that was available to him. He knew he could never get to … Read More >

Sermon Series

The Reformation: Then And Now

Why should we be interested in the sixteenth century reformation? Most evangelicals think we have no need to rehash the issues that divided the church centuries ago. These eight messages argue the opposite: the basic theological clarifications that divided the church back then are still relevant today. Join us and …

Blog Post

European Reformation: The Anabaptists

On January 5, 1527, six men were forcibly drowned here in the cold water of the Limmat River in Zurich, Switzerland. The plaque you see in the foreground marks the location of the drowning, and lists the name of Felix Manz as the leader of the group. Their crime? Although baptized as infants, they re-baptized one another as adults upon profession of faith. The Zurich City Council decreed, “Whoever baptizes someone will be apprehended by our lords and drowned without mercy.” Huldrych Zwingli, the great Reformer who had mentored these men, agreed with the City Council’s decision. Apparently, Zwingli … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: John Calvin And The Power Of Preaching

Standing next to Calvin’s pulpit in Geneva, Switzerland made me reminisce about the power of preaching. From here, Calvin impacted the world. But perhaps his preaching would not be well received today. Let me explain. My friend John Glass, a pastor in Geneva, told some of us that Calvin’s sermon output was enormous. For example, he preached 43 sermons on Galatians, 46 sermons on Thessalonians, 48 sermons on Ephesians, 86 sermons on the Pastoral Epistles, 186 sermons on Corinthians, and spent five years preaching on the harmony of the Gospels until his death in 1564. In the Old Testament … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: Calvin And A Heretic

Rebecca and I are traveling in Switzerland and Germany, and I am lecturing on the Reformation. Each day in this blog I’ll be answering a question that might be on your mind regarding this event that changed the course of history. Question: Why did Voltaire believe that there was a special place in hell for John Calvin? The answer is because of Calvin’s role in the burning of the heretic Servetus, who was condemned for denying the Trinity. Catholic authorities sought his extradition to face charges of heresy in France, but Servetus escaped and came to Geneva and entered the … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: From Here The World Changed Forever

The picture above is of the Wittenberg door, where Luther nailed his 95 Theses. As you might guess, the door is not original, for the wooden door used during Luther’s time was burned in a fire during the Thirty Years War. Replacing it is a metal door, with the 95 Theses ingrained in Latin. Above it is Luther kneeling with an open Bible before the crucified Christ, and Melanchthon kneels with a copy of the Augsburg Confession. Luther had come to Wittenberg as a professor, deeply troubled, and overcome with guilt and a sense of alienation from God. He had … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: The Bible And The Sword

What is the relationship between the Bible and the sword? Between Christ and Caesar? These are questions that have often been debated throughout church history, and they are still relevant issues today. The picture above is that of the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli. Notice that he is holding both a Bible and a sword. He believed he could be loyal to both—but the matter is not that simple. Let me begin by reminding us that we must all agree that the Bible makes a distinction between the realm of government and the realm of the church. A government has the … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: Zwingli, Sausages, And The Reformation

In this cathedral in Zurich, Switzerland, Huldrych Zwingli preached the Reformation beginning January 1, 1519. He defended his views with an open Bible and ran into stiff opposition with the Catholic majority in the city. In those days, issues that we would consider trivial were hugely important. For example, in 1522, Zwingli was attending a supper during Lent when two dried sausages were cut up, and each man ate a small piece. That sounds very innocuous to us, but back then, when word of this got out, there was a backlash; meat was not to be eaten during Lent. The … Read More >

Blog Post

European Reformation: John Calvin And Predestination

John Calvin. Mention his name, and the word “predestination” comes immediately to mind. In the portrait above, he is pictured as being stern, perhaps even vengeful—a man who relished preaching the judgement of God. But that is far from the truth. When Rebecca and I visited his church in Geneva, Switzerland recently, I was reminded that this man was actually a caring pastor who believed that predestination should be a comfort to God’s children and an encouragement to preach the Gospel. Calvin did not invent the word “predestination;” after all, it occurs several times in the Bible. He simply … Read More >

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