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Sabbath: Faith Against All Odds — 15 Comments

  1. This week we are studying four of the reformers. Unfortunately, the lesson gives only a couple of points about each of these men:

    John Wycliff 1328 – 1384
    William Tyndale 1494 – 1536
    Luther 1483 – 1546
    John Wesley – 1703 -1791

    I hope to provide a little more detail about each of them to encourage further study.

      • I'm going to have a guess and say Florence Nightingale, on the left (looks like a nurse uniform), and Ruth. Both women did great things with their lives as they lived out what they understood to be God's purpose in their lives. Of course the pictures may be of other women who were used by God to serve, to nurture, to lead and support others.

  2. The Protestant Reformation is a huge and complex topic and to cover it even succinctly would take several volumes. The Sabbath School lesson pamphlet mentions 4 names but leaves out so many others. I did some work on this while researching the history of the King James Version of the Bible and found the history both fascinating and rewarding.

    The political precursor to the Reformation:

    The Holy Roman Empire had grown until it encompassed most of Europe and was essentially a consortium of Kingdoms and Principalities that gave some sort of allegiance (ie paid taxes to and received permission to have kings and so on) to Rome and/or Avignon. It was a fusion of political and religious power that used coercion and persecution as a control. They were not all that unified and during the period when the reformation gained traction, the great Western schism occurred. There were up to three popes reigning at the same time and power shifted back and forth between Rome in Italy and Avignon in southern France. In this environment, church leaders were often appointed based on wealth, allegiances, and intrigue. Corruption was rife and taxes for the commoner were crippling.

    Politically, many of the early reformers were critical of the corruption, excesses and control of the Papacy. They worked in a period of rising nationalism. Note that the work of many of the early reformers resulted in national churches.

    I want to start the week by briefly mentioning Erasmus or Rotterdam (1466 – 1536)

    While John Wycliff preceded Erasmus, he was an important pre-reformation figure in Holland and provided a philosophy that guided the following reformers. He was a Catholic priest and academic, critical of the church's authority and emphasised that scripture and not the church hierarchy should be the basis of our spiritual experience. He criticised the corruption he saw within the church hierarchy. He was also critical of the church’s emphasis on rituals and formality over personal piety. He went on to emphasise the importance of individual faith based on a deep understanding of the Bible

    Erasmus did not just theorise. He created Greek and Latin translations of the New Testament from the earliest Greek/Aramaic manuscripts available at the time [I need to mention that he used the Latin Vulgate for those passages where he could not find reliable source manuscripts.] The importance of this was the commencement of the Textus Receptus that formed the basis for the translation of the New Testament into English, Dutch, German and French during the Reformation. [Note that Erasmus was working at the very beginning of the printing press era and the production of books was still labour-intensive. You couldn’t go to the local bookstore and buy a copy]

    While he was contemporary with Martin Luther, he was also highly critical of Lutheranism, the religion, predicting with some accuracy that it would fall into the same mould as the Papacy.

    I think it is important to understand that Erasmus, while he remained a Catholic his whole life, laid down an important foundation, both philosophically and practically for the Reformation.

  3. Thank you Maurice for making the effort to give us further insights into the reformers. I very much appreciated reading “History of the Reformation by J. H. Merle D’Aubigne. I was pleased to see this book available free online. Would be interested in other historian’s evaluations of various events.

  4. When considering 'Faith against all Odds', my attention is drawn to the flow of time and the spiritual markers God left throughout the millennia for those that can see His hands working out mankind’s salvation. Though circumstances governing societies may change, man gaining more and more freedom to choose his place in life, essentially nothing has changed since the beginning of time - Eccl.1:9.

    If a god at all, man still seeks to find the ‘right type of god’ to help him with establishing success and provide him with a semblance of 'happiness' in this life. As at the Beginning, the dark forces in this world still attempt to stop man from being found by the true God - our Creator.

    One could say that the efforts by the Reformers constitute the last chapter in the book of 'organized religions' and their work on behalf of members of the Christian Faith. I consider the efforts to organize 'Faith' to be futile, as spiritual faith is a matter solely reserved as the foundation for a genuine, loving, deep personal relationship with our God.

    As Maurice noted, Erasmus ‘predicted with some accuracy that Lutheranism would fall into the same mold as the Papacy.’ I hold that efforts to establish any ‘organized’ faith will suffer the same consequences.

    Once the believer’s faith-relationship with our true God is firmly established, as maintaining this faith-relationship becomes paramount in the believer’s life, the world around him may fall to pieces but not break down the faith he holds so dear. It is at the same time heartwarming as it is heartbreaking - the power and strength of God's Love for us, moving us to love Him more than life itself, manifests only as life is threatened.

    • I think we need to be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater when talking about organised Churches. While I agree that personal faith is important, a church should provide an environment for that faith to grow and develop. Community is an important part of our faith development. When I think of my life in the Seventh-day Adventist church, I think of all my friends with whom I can discuss my faith questions and ideas without fear of reprisal. We can float ideas, tell of experiences, encourage, and perhaps even admonish one another. In the process we can grow our faith. I am reminded to that the church community is where we see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

      Where Church becomes an issue is when we get lazy and allow the church to make faith decisions for us, or when the church loses sight of the difference between faith and dogma, or when we become confused about the difference betweeen unity and uniformity.

      • Very well said!!! while I am born and raised Seventh-Day Adventist, some of the practices are Dogma basically tradition and not biblical. I hate to harp on this topic but it’s still being practiced and preached. Nowhere Is it written thats it’s a sin to go to a movie theatre and yet we shun new members into believing that they must give this up in order to be a "True" Seventh-Day Adventist!! Its not the movie theatre, its what we do, what we see, and what we hear that puts us in danger of corruption ... in 2024 that ca happen on any smart device that ALL of us have in our pockets or purses.
        To harp on the good that you said Mr Maurice, Im honored and blessed to have an environment (the Adventist Church) where I can fellowship and express myself with like minded people. We must be on one accord, we are living in the times of the Anti-Christ and the Bible warns that if it were possible even the very elect would be deceived (Matt 24:24). I pray that no deception falls upon us and that we all study to show ourselves approved (2Tim 2:15)!

  5. The phrase of this study is basically, "Living with little of real significance leads to nothing worth dying for, so also little worth."

  6. Thank you for your broadening our understanding ,now my question is why there's no reformation in the present churches and countries or early reformers finished the work of reform?


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