I know that you’re going to be sitting around tonight wondering what to do in those anxious moments between ambushes by costumed raiding parties, so I have compiled a few Reformation Day Reads for your edification.
Similarly, if you have been invited to one of those degrading Halloween parties for adults, I offer you an excuse to stay home, drink an October-themed beer, and settle in with these Reformation Day Reads.
You can also check the ‘gram, review the silliness, and remember that our “righteousnesses” are like filthy rags, obviously.
Not since the glory days of the Renaissance has the Catholic Church had a pope who makes orthodox Protestantism so attractive.
The annual celebration of the Reformation in Reformed churches is not tribalism. It is an opportunity to recover our own confession, our theology, our piety, and our practice. One of the many blessings of the Reformation, along with the recovery of the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, was the recovery of sola Scriptura, the biblical truth that the Word of God alone is the final arbiter of Christian doctrine and the final standard for the conduct of the Christian life.
No authority, however well meaning he may be, has authority to put the Christian under rules that are not taught or necessarily implied by God’s Word. No authority can make the Christian do things in worship that are not commanded or necessarily implied by God’s Word.
Four centuries after Synod, in North America, Dort might seem remote, but it should not. The confessional Reformed churches may not be facing Spanish persecution, but we are a distinct minority in an overwhelmingly Arminian evangelical culture. The assumptions that fueled the Remonstrant movement live on.
We might be surprised that Calvin placed the worship of God as the first of the Reformation issues, but this was a consistent theme of his. Earlier, he had written to Cardinal Sadoleto: ‘There is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God.’ Worship is where we meet with God, and that meeting must be conducted by God’s standards. Our worship shows whether we truly accept God’s Word as our authority and submit to it. Self-created worship is both a form of works-righteousness and an expression of idolatry.
Long before the federal Department of Education was finally created in the 1970s, efforts had been made to establish it in the 1920s. Machen vigorously opposed those efforts in published letters, essays in national magazines, speaking engagements, and in an appearance before a joint Congressional committee. There, Machen warned against government control over young people: ‘If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.’
As far as I can tell, older Reformed theologians never made much effort to build a distinctively Reformed theology of natural law, but they all affirmed the existence of natural law, and they incorporated it into their theology. The Westminster Standards illustrate this. I have counted at least thirteen direct references to natural law in the standards (which uses various terms, such as ‘light of nature,’ the ‘law of God written in their hearts,’ and ‘law of nature’), and there are also indirect references. But perhaps more significant than the sheer number of references is the range of Reformed doctrines that the standards connect to natural law. This means that one cannot extract natural law from the system of doctrine taught in the standards without fundamentally damaging the system itself. Natural law is integral to the historic Reformed system of doctrine.