Posts Tagged reformation day

Calvin’s cafes

John Calvin and his council © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

John Calvin and his council © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

During our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, #Reformation500, it is good to remember the events from a number of perspectives.

It is easy to look at the Reformation as one singular event and neglect the series of happenings throughout Europe.

The ancient city of Geneva was a place uniquely driven by the reforms and ideas of John Calvin and his major contributions to the Reformation took place in Geneva between the years 1541-1549.

By 1541 Geneva was undergoing a political and religious war, and some sought peace by wanting to return to Roman Catholicism. But Calvin was strong enough to hold onto his conviction that all things, be they religious or civil, should be done according to the Bible.

Some of the controversial reforms the Genevan council of 60 implemented was the closing of taverns. A 16th century tavern, being a place where locals and travellers drank alcohol and eat food. Calvin had them replaced with Cafe’s where people would pray before every meal, and the Bible was always present. People were not permitted to sing in them either.

But the plan failed and it drove people away, so the taverns were reopened.

A lesson to be learned is that no Christian should ever try to force believers or none believers to do anything. People have to decide for themselves. Implementing Christian or none Christian ideals and morals on the public fails to do anything but drive people away.


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Reformation day

Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Well, it’s that time of the year again here in the UK. Summer is over. Autumn is here. The leaves are falling on the ground. It’ll soon be Christmas.

Festivals are an important part of Britain, they define who we are and were we have come from. Our Country is steeped to the highest hill in Christian history. England is a special place.

It was here on this tiny Island where the very first complete English New Testament was written in the 14th century by Yorkshireman John Wycliffe and possibly the Lollards. Wycliffe was a good man and worked at Oxford and Lutterworth. He is believed to have been “the morning star of the Reformation”.

It was here in the 16th century where that master linguist and translator William Tyndale first began his translation work on the Tyndale New Testament. This translation would become a foundation for the singularly most influential book in the entire world, the 1611 King James Bible.

Research reveals that somewhere between 85-90% of the King James New Testament, is the work of Tyndale.

Tyndale’s dying prayer “Lord, open the eyes of the King of England” was a foundation for the English Reformation and the printing of the English Bible. That Bible Henry V111 gave licence to was the 1536/37 English version by Tyndale’s friend, Myles Coverdale. That version also contained the majority of Tyndale’s work.

Wycliffe, Tyndale and Coverdale were hugely influential in the English Reformation, and although Coverdales Bible would eventually be somewhat concluded 74 years later in the 1611 King James Version, it was the reforms of Henry V111 and Edward V1 that would lay the foundations for the Britain we now live in today.

The 16th century was a violent time. Our freedom has come at a great cost. Our streets are filled with the blood of the martyrs. Protestant Christians are probably one of the most persecuted people on the face of this planet and it was the historical Protestants who stood up for the right of religious freedom in the Country.

Today many of these Protestant martyrs have been forgotten. Yes, Protestants have been guilty a number of times for blood shed, yes they have often turned intolerant, but the root cause of their actions lay with the oppressive authoritarian rule of the historic Roman Catholic Church. It was Rome which started the violence, not the Protestants.

On this day, October 31st 1517, German monk and Catholic Priest Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. His thesis contain 95 points of debate concerning the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and its forthright denial of the Bible in favor of the laws of the Pope.

Because Luther challenged the position of the Roman Catholic Church, he would eventually find himself standing trial at Worms and by an act of daring defiance and resolute conviction of conscience, in 1522 he stood before the council and declared that he would not recant of his beliefs unless his claims could be proven wrong by Scripture and by plain reason. The established Church could not refute Luther because in reality they had more knowledge of the Church than of Scripture and Luther thus remained true to his convictions. The Pope put a bounty on Luther’s head and he became the most wanted man in Germany. But Luther’s move grew stronger and he hit back with a German Translation of the Bible, which separated the German Church from the rule of Rome forever. Thus, the Reformation had begun.

Today millions of people around the world worship in Churches inspired by his Reformation. Yet for many people, October 31st is little more than a day to dress up what was a Christian festival, into a visual representation of the occult.

Truth be told, Halloween has been hijacked. It was originally a Christian festival.

The truth is that October 31st is Reformation day and it was through the Reformers labouring for Religious freedom, that in the 16th century Reformation founded this Country and even America. It is a historic fact that during the Roman Catholic persecution of staunch Protestants in the years that followed would cause many Protestants to leave England and head to Germany or Geneva. It was clear during the reign of Mary 1 and even the 17th century that the Roman Catholic church was unwilling to give religious freedom to those outside of that establishment.

When the King James Bible was first published in 1611, the Puritans of England were a considerable force for the faith. Yet even they would eventually be forced out of England, Leaving at Plymouth with their Geneva Bibles, they headed for North America where they founded New Plymouth and so forth. Eventually the Puritan movement in 17th century America would go extreme, but the King James Bible prevailed. What is clear when the good works are known, is that both modern England and America are founded upon the Christian faith, the English Bible, and the Reformation. Yet today, it would seem that both England and America are once again turning their backs upon the historical position that has made them. In England we have an official Church which is once again slipping downhill into a hell that repeatedly denies the Truth of Scripture.

York Minster © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

York Minster © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

If we look back to the pre-reformation era of the Church, it is quite easy to see that the Church of today in England is not far off being an exact parallel to the church back then. We can see a minority of Christians, like the Lollards, speaking out and inwardly and outwardly desiring the Church to be honest to the Bible rather than the opinions of men. We see the Church traditions overriding Scripture, we see the fullness of the Gospel being denied.

We see a majority of ministers, or at least a lot of them, and members of the Church of England in outright denial of the Word of God and in the favour of liberalism and the opinions of mere men. While those loyal to to Scripture are being labelled as either fundamentalist, arrogant or already guilty of “religiosity” being over literal or indeed “fanatics”. Yet the Church of England was founded on so-called ‘fanatics’ and has continued such for many centuries. The problem today is that the reasons why many make such claims against true Christian’s is not necessarily because of Truth itself, but because our foundations differ to their opinions. Thus, it is quite clear that true Christians at the moment are becoming somewhat of a minority in this Country, like the voices of John Wycliffe and the Lollards of the 14th and 15th centuries and when it comes to dates like 31st October, the historic truths are being covered over with deceptions.

When the inspiration for a new reform of the Christian Church in England came to me in 2011, it was somewhat of an inspiring shock. Yet most Christians I shared this with did not understand. However, I knew that signs would follow and they did. On 16th December 2011 David Cameron spoke at Christ Church, Oxford and stated that Britain needs to return back to Christian principles. David Cameron also quite cleverly and deliberately employed the use of the word ‘Revival’ in his political speech concerning a “revival of Christian values”. On Christmas day 2011, the Queen gave one of the most ‘evangelical’ speeches I have ever heard from her. This, and a number of Scriptures bore witness to the reality of what Paul wrote:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2: 1-4

I do not feel that Christians rightly took on board the opportunity presented by David Cameron and rather wrongly looked to the person of behind the Prime Minister rather than the truth that was spoken. To me, it is somewhat irrelevant who speaks the truth, if indeed the Truth is spoken. Thus, regardless of David Cameron, since I am not going to judge him, he was right, Britain is in need of a ‘Revival of Christian values’.

Since that time we have seen the riots of London, a grim reminder of the so-called ‘Peasants Revolt’ and we have even seen the Roman Catholic Church repeatedly referring to ‘Catholic Reform’ and the notion of ‘Reform’ spreading throughout such areas as ‘Banking reform, welfare reform, and so forth. The problem is, the worldly view of reform is not the reform that the Church needs.

Since 2011, I have been continuously speaking of the need of Church reform. I know that no one man like Luther can reform the Church and I would reform my own self first. The truth is that the historical position of Reformation was centralised around the break from the Roman Catholic Church, yet today the principle of reform is the same, only broader: if only the majority of the established Church would learn to teach the Truth, no true Christian would need to break away from it. However, I realise no Church is perfect, yet I also know that now is the time for me to call upon all my brothers and sisters in Christ to make the stand now for Christ and His Church in this country. It is not a time to sit back and merely complain, it is the time for us to unite in Reforming the Christian Church in Britain.

Although I recognise there is no ‘One official Church’, that such is a thing of the past, there are many denominations which have sprung up as a product of the Reformation, each of them having their own leaders and positions of faith and doctrine. It is the responsibility of all Christian leaders to ensure that what is being taught from the pulpit and from life, is true to Scripture. And that I think, is where a true reform can come. Not through official systems, or Kings and Queens, although such would be helpful, but through the obedience of every Christian man. It is true that some Churches have no need of reform, since they are true to Scripture. But for those Churches that are in desperate need of Reform, reform in Britain is possible, reforming one Church at a time.

In closing, I would like to add that this Country would not be the country it is today if not for the Protestant communities, and it is wrong that Bible believing Christians today are being marginalized for their Faith and beliefs. No man or women has the authority or right to dictate to another how he or she can live or what that person can or cannot believe. It is up to the Scripture itself and the Holy Spirit to make the Truth known. However, Scripture reveals that in times of persecution, now matter how large or how small, the Christian Church is made strong. That God, by His authority, has sent the Holy Spirit with power to convict the world of sin. This will happen regardless of the world and her governors. We need the Holy Spirit to move with power, for without the Holy Spirit, no man or woman can know the Truth and no one will see the Lord.

Simon Peter Sutherland

31st October 2014

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And so this is ‘Reformation Day’, and what have you done?

Church cross © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church cross © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Every Christmas I hear John Lennon’s voice singing “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done…” It saddens me almost every time.

Today, I thought of that line and turned things around a little. I was thinking about this tonight, that today is reformation day, 31st October 2013, the religious holiday where some reformed congregations remember that day when Martin Luther posted what is known as “The 95 thesis” on 31st October 1517.

Back then the church was a bit of a mess. People did not believe that salvation was by Gods grace alone, and the essentials of the Christian faith were either not presented or had become muddled up and fuzzy due to the unscriptural claims of church leadership.

Not much has changed. Today in England, 2013, we still see the same old mess and many leaders of the Christian church being the very people who somewhat decronstruct the church and turn it into either a social gathering or a self centred platform for ear pleasing, man made doctrines. The Word of God is so often denied for the word of man.

If it was not for God Himself, His Holy Spirit and His Word of Truth, I would, apart from Christian history, I confess it, be ashamed to be called a Christian and not because of the message or the claims of Christian creeds, but because of what Christianity has become in Britain. And what do Christians do to see things change? Do they even see the need for change? Or are they so busy building their own lives and founding their own careers, being so steeped in that that they see little need for church restoration?

Luther did not nail his thesis to the church door so that this statement could be trodden under foot. Jesus did not say He would build His church so that Christians could sit back and let Him do all the work. No. He said He would build His church upon His chosen people and does that exclude you in this very generation?

If Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man, and He was born of a virgin and truly raised the dead to life and was crucified, dead and buried and rose from the dead, then He is the singularly most important person this world has ever known or will know. And if He said, “I will build my church”then the church is the singular most important establishment on the face of the earth.

Thus, with this in mind, I ask you all, what is more important; your own lives, your own wealth, your own homes and careers or the church of Christ?

Thus, I say it again, and so this is reformation day, and what have you done? Are you going to sit and watch the church fall and fail and say ‘it is not my calling’ and leave the work for other men to do or are you going to do something about it?

The choice is yours, but from this day forwards, you can never again say that you were unaware of this urgent need!

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