Last night, our church celebrated the Reformation. Or, at least, on the anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, we acknowledged we are the result of what Luther started. There are several reasons we wanted to do this.
1. Broadly, we are Protestants. Aptly named, because those who followed Luther and others whose desire it was to reform the Church were labeled ‘protesters’ by the Roman Catholic Church. And, while Luther probably didn’t intend to spark such a movement, it resulted in a grand scale break from the established Church. Justin Taylor’s 2010 interview with Luther historian Carl Trueman gives good insight to Luther’s intentions.
2. Specifically, we are Baptists. History has shown us to be the ‘Protestant’s protesters’, in that our beginnings are found in the 16th century attempts to purify (the Puritans) the Church of England. When that didn’t work, a group decided that there was no hope in purifying the Church, so, in the early 17th century, they separated themselves (thus, the Separatists) and began the process of establishing their own church. It is from that germ that Baptists were born.
3. We want to recognize our history and honor those who stood by the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. When we study history, we see our beginnings, we see those who fought the battles for the Word and theological precision, and we see where we are now in comparison. Even more, we can understand why we believe what we believe.
4. In primary matters, we want to celebrate our doctrinal unity with each other – other Baptists, and other Protestants, as well. We do that in the 5 Solas (a Latin word meaning ‘alone’) – Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratias (grace alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), and Sola Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone). We acknowledge the primacy of the inerrant, authoritative Word of God as revealed to us in the Bible. We acknowledge, too, that we are are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – all for the glory of God alone.
We need to know who we are. We need to know from where we come. And, because of that, we can be secure in our future.