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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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4/17/2004

Today in Church History 

Ok, actually tomorrow in church history, but I think that this is a VERY significant event, so maybe I'll even give it two days worth. I'll start tonight just in case I don't get a chance to blog tomorrow.

"Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen."

Yup, on this date in 1521, the Shot Heard Round Christendom. Martin Luther placed himself in grave danger of death because of his beliefs. A shot fired across the bow of a Catholic Church that had strayed. The opening salvo of the Protestant Reformation.

They had repercussions, to say the least. Frederick the Wise, who supported Luther for reasons as political as they were religious, became very nervous, worried that Scripture wouldn't support Luther after all. Others worried about civil war breaking out in Germany, since the Church and the State were so closely tied together. They waited for the Pope to send troops to bring Germany back into the fold. They brought their concerns to Luther, but he stood firm.

The official transcripts of Luther's trail do not contain these famous words, leading some scholars to doubt that they were ever said. They are certainly consistant with Luther's temperment, as anyone who has read his works can attest. They are also consistant with the attitude of the Reformers, and that of the Early Church. They should be ours.

I've noticed that there has been a recurring theme in some of the Today in Church History entries. That isn't entirely unintentional -- I think that the modern church has, in many ways, grown complacent. One of the things we need to learn from history is that God honors those who stand firm in their convictions, and who follow the leading of the Holy Spirit over the preferences of man. I get the events, along with a basic synopsis, at the Christian History Institute, so I'm not just picking and choosing events that go along with what I want to say. Maybe I just see a theme in history, and I'm going with that theme for a bit. My prayer is that, through the study of those who have gone on before, we can change the Church for the better, and make an impact on the world in the process.


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