Four resources on the Reformation from the Christian History Institute
Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine (CHM), has announced the publication of four magazine issues on the Reformation: Luther leads the way; The People’s Reformation; Calvin, Councils and Confessions, and The Catholic Reformation. With this series set, Christian History Magazine commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which began October 31, 1517. These magazine issues and others are available at no-cost, on the website and by subscription, at: Christian History Institute. Here is a little about each issue:
Luther leads the way examines the life and impact of Martin Luther, leader and inspiration of the most significant reformation of faith since the time of Jesus Christ. Influenced by early reformers such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, Luther not only translated the Bible into the German language, but inspired a church and cultural revolution in Europe by discovering and defining the doctrine of salvation by faith, dependent upon scripture alone. His revelation challenged the foundations of a dominant and corrupt Catholic Church and helped inspire institutions that over time, underwrote Western Civilization.
Seldom has the life of one man affected his culture more than that of Luther, who revolutionized, music, theology, law, education, marriage and politics. Over the course of his life of sixty-three years (1483 – 1546), Luther opposed a corrupted and elite Catholic Church establishment and identified a dynamic Faith, defined by a personal relationship with a historical and living creator and savior. With Luther’s leadership, beginning with his distribution of 95 theses on indulgences in 1517, the reformation movement would not only reveal corrupt church practices but incite an explosion of freedoms and diversity, ending the European medieval period of history and ushering in modern times.
The People’s Reformation examines a Reformation movement that cast European society and culture into extraordinary and rapid change. In a short fifty-year period, the ideas of Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Bucer, John Calvin and other reformers would challenge the rule of a fractured and corrupt Catholic church, as well as kings and magistrates, causing one of the most extreme periods of radical social change in recorded history.
The ideas and forces of the Reformation resulted in widespread public scandal, such as priests and nuns getting married (often to each other); peasants rebelling against the prevailing class system and demanding rights from overlords; churches violently attacked and artwork plundered by parishioners eager to abolish superstition, idolatry and relic worship. Church services were transformed as Christians sought to reinvent church meetings. New roles for women were created as new denominations opened options to women, such as the pastor’s wife, while the role of nun declined. Kings and rulers chose sides and attacked those of opposing beliefs. Both Protestants and Catholics tracked down and killed Anabaptists, whose opposition to infant baptism was considered worthy of public torture and death by burning, which was considered appropriate for heresy judgments.
Calvin, Councils and Confessions explores the life and impact of John Calvin and other sixteenth century leaders in the context of emerging theological and cultural movements. These movements, often founded by an individual, soon to became separate Christian denominations, forever altering both the church establishment and creating a group of neighboring state governments, soon to be known as states and Europe. These institutions helped reform Christendom, as well as nations, shaping Western Civilization and the modern world.
The issue’s contributing authors provide fresh insights into Calvin, the man– his personal life and legacy as a pastor, a thought leader, theologian and statesman. Ultimately, John Calvin and his contemporaries inspired major thought movements, which today, compose the fabric of modern Christian denominations and the spiritual lives of millions of Christians. Major movements/traditions examined include: the Reformed church, Church of England, Lutherans, Anabaptists and Catholics, as well as, regions, city states and kingdoms which, over time, became nations.
The Catholic Reformation contains ten in-depth articles that explore responses to the Reformation within the Catholic Church and two related Protestant movements (the Arminius challenge to Calvin’s Reform movement and the Puritan’s movement in America). The issue brings to a conclusion the editor’s four-issue series commemorating the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation period, generally considered to have begun with the publication of Luther’s 95 theses, in protest.
The issue’s contributing authors examine response efforts by both Catholic Church insiders and evangelicals. While piety movements spawned numerous formal orders, including the Jesuits (Society of Jesus), it also encouraged an underground “justification by faith” movement which has remarkably experienced a revival in the present day. Both responses, in spite of papal reluctance, lead to the Council of Trent (1545 to 1563) and Europe’s Thirty Years’ War, which further defined the relationship between the church and state, as well as how Protestant rejection of church statuary and images resulted in an art explosion as an expression of Catholic Church truths and doctrine.
Christian history has been largely removed from the American public education system that Christian leaders began in the early years of this nation,” said Michael Austin, a Christian commentator. “After years of decline, our public schools no longer teach the Bible’s founding contribution to Western Civilization. Pioneer’s such as Martin Luther instilled in our culture the values of faith, freedom and education. Yet, today, faith in God is being openly questioned and attacked.” Citing the importance of history, George Barna, speaking of research gathered in a recent survey, said, “Young people couldn’t think of anything positive that the church stood for.” In a video interview, Barna reported, “We’re essentially in the Dark Ages, in America today.” Christian History Institute (CHI) is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation founded in 1982. CHI publishes Christian History magazine and also produces books and videos featuring important Christian history, including Torchlighters®, an animated history series for children. CHI is a donor-supported organization providing church history resources and self-study material to make Christian history accessible to the widest possible audience, via video and the Internet. Contact Christian History Institute, Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490, www.ChristianHistoryInstitute.