October 31, 2017 –500th Anniversary of the Reformation

The Reformation in a nutshell: We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone as taught by Scripture alone.

• Grace alone (sola gratia) means that God took initiative, supplies grace for every good work, and completes God’s work in us, and this includes a cooperative grace by which human persons partner with God in God’s mission in the world.

• Faith alone (sola fidei) means that trust in God’s work in Christ is the exclusive, orienting, and foundational root of every good work God completes in and through us, and this is expressed and given concrete form in both sacraments and life.

• Christ alone (solus Christus) means that God elected Christ as the sole ground of our salvation, and this entails that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ and only in Christ.

• To the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria) means all things come from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and everything returns to the Father through the Son in the Spirit, and this excludes any kind of boasting except in what God does.

• Scripture alone (sola scriptura) means that the oracles of God handed down to us through the church are the sole norm for Christian faith and practice, and this Scripture is interpreted in the bosom of the church which is committed to the canon of truth, who is God revealed in Christ.


I actually think these principles find common ground in the Great Tradition of the church, including Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Roman Catholic theology. There is a substance to each of these points that is affirmed by all three great traditions of the church–Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant. Their interpretations vary to one degree or another, but the common ground is also substantial.

3 Responses to “October 31, 2017 –500th Anniversary of the Reformation”

  1.   C. Allen Hobbs Says:

    It is unfortunate that Protestantism expanded upon the murderous Augustine instead of the more noble Pelagius. Augustine was the first “Christian” theologian to support violence and persecution as justified to compel belief.

    So Luther would contrive the “Augustinianism to eleven” nonsense and explicitly enact genocide against the Anabaptists, and in his stated, potty-mouthed desires, against the Jews. Calvin would likewise affirm the principle of genocide against the Anabaptists and Servitus.

    I’ve long argued that an atheist can be a good person, but no affirmer of any Augustinian religion can without repentance of affirming Augustinian violence.

  2.   Robert Bliss Says:

    I never knew Augustine advocated persecution. A little work on Google and it is true. I wonder if there is more to his thinking than my short research reveals. Why would Luther and Calvin think the same? I also have not read much about the debate with Pelagius. No doubt this would be an interesting project to research.

    •   C. Allen Hobbs Says:

      Here is a good article on Augustine’s theory of persecution. https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/freethought-freedom-augustines-case-righteous-persecution

      (That article mentions Thomas Hobbes, whom I won’t defend just because he is my 10th great grand uncle.)

      Luther wrote:
      “That seditious articles of doctrine should be punished by the sword needed no further proof. For the rest, the Anabaptists hold tenets relating to infant baptism, original sin, and inspiration, which have no connection with the Word of God, and are indeed opposed to it . . . Secular authorities are also bound to restrain and punish avowedly false doctrine . . . For think what disaster would ensue if children were not baptized? . . . Besides this the Anabaptists separate themselves from the churches . . . and they set up a ministry and congregation of their own, which is also contrary to the command of God. From all this it becomes clear that the secular authorities are bound . . . to inflict corporal punishment on the offenders . . . Also when it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism, original sin, and unnecessary separation, then . . . we conclude that . . . the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.” (ref. pamphlet of 1536; in Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumes, translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 [orig. 1891]; Vol. X, 222-223)

      Calvin’s work: “Defense of the Orthodox Faith in the Sacred Trinity” which makes killing heretics centrally essential to Calvinism should thus be considered more important than his Institutes for understanding applied Calvinism. Theodore Beza also expanded on Calvin and wrote “On the Punishment of Heretics by the Civil Magistrate” in 1554 to further promote the Calvinist totalitarian state position .

      In other words, these are all extremely well known by those who have sided with their victims, primarily Anabaptists. What is scary is that some Anabaptists want to overlook the evils that are a defining centerpiece of the Reformation. No, the Radical Reformation and the Restoration movement(s) and CoC should not seek an alliance with the Chemosh-like religions of the Reformation.

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