Reflections on the Reformation

by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSCNC Executive Director-Treasurer

Friday, October 20, 2017

Oct. 31, 1517 is widely recognized as the day that a monk named Martin Luther nailed a document known as the 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Historians, scholars and theologians mark this event as the beginning of what we know as the Protestant Reformation.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a significant and momentous event in church history. While in some contemporary conversations the Reformation is often associated primarily with Reformed theology, the importance of the Reformation goes far beyond contemporary conversations. As Southern Baptists, we are the beneficiaries of the Reformation in many ways. One of the lasting impacts of the Reformation has been the recovery of core doctrinal beliefs that we as evangelicals in general and Southern Baptists in particular hold as foundational to our faith.

The theological convictions of the Reformers are often summarized in what are known as the “five solas.” These short Latin phrases convey core truths about Christianity. They are: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone); sola fide (faith alone); sola gratia (grace alone); sola Christus (Christ alone); and sola Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone). When we consider these truths, we can understand how the Reformation continues to influence how and why we worship God today.

Baptists have long been called a “people of the book.” We believe that Scripture alone is our ultimate source of authority, and all of God’s Word is inspired, inerrant and infallible. The Bible is the believer’s guide for faith and practice.

As followers of Christ, we know that salvation is a free gift, and it is available to anyone who receives it by faith. We also know that salvation is only made possible because of God’s grace. We cannot do enough good works to earn our salvation. The apostle Paul reminds us of this glorious truth in Ephesians 2:8-9.

We also know that salvation comes only through Christ Jesus. He is the sinless Son of God whose death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins. Acts 4:12 tells us that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (NKJV).

For all that God has done for us, we should be compelled to live our lives to the glory of Him alone. The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NKJV).

To coincide with the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Historical Committee is sponsoring some special events during our upcoming Annual Meeting on Nov. 6-7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.

On Monday, Nov. 6, the committee will be screening a film on the Reformation titled This Changed Everything at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Auditorium I of the Koury Center. The committee will also offer a “Reformation Symposium” panel discussion that same day in Auditorium I from 3-5 p.m.

We hope you will make plans to attend these events to learn more about the historical significance and the lasting legacy of the Reformation.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)