The great summary of the Reformation which had its public awakening in Whittenburg, Germany around this date in 1517 was a series of four Latin phrases: sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura, solus Christus.
By the medieval ages, so many traditions and stories had arisen around the Christian Faith in Europe and elsewhere, that many people we unsure about what truly was the basis of the Christian Faith, much like all the trappings that have arisen around the present secular celebrations of Hallowe’en and Christmas. The Reformers put forward the concept of Sola Scriptura – only by Scripture is the Christian Faith to be defined.
When people are not sure of who and what they were or are before God, it is so easy to think that we must earn our way into a relationship with the Lord and into the presence of God in the afterlife. The Reformers stressed the understanding that it is only by the Grace of God and not by anything that we can do that we come into the Lord’s presence, it is the Lord’s grace, not works – sola gratia; and our faith in Christ, not any merit or status we can attain that grows our relationship with God – sola fide.
For me one of the most important aspects of the Reformation was the reawakening of the understanding that our lives, spiritual and temporal, are ground in our relationship with Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord – solus Christus.
One final thought, the Reformation happened because of several factors which included a growing middle class who could afford literacy and education, and the invention of movable printing type. One of the first books to be printed was the Bible and it was a best seller for its time. These two things caused as much impact on the society of the time as did the advent of the personal computer and the internet on our generation.
I enjoy the annual reminder of the renewal, regeneration and reformation of the Faith that is the heritage of the Reformation. It has been important to my understanding of the Faith.
Canon Donald J Lawton