Recovering Reformation Day
By. Michael A. Milton
There are many Protestant churches that will have a October festival. There are some who will even have a hymn-sing this last Sunday in October—a wonderful tradition, for the Protestant Church is a singing Church to be sure. Others will seek to redeem Halloween as an opportunity for some good, clean fun and fellowship at their churches. I delight in the hymn-singing, and actually have no problem with any of those things, personally, and think such rituals are good excuses for eating sweets. Yet there is a sweet opportunity, a most important one in the church calendar, to move beyond nice and fun to human and cultural transformation. For I wonder how many will be observing Reformation Day? Reformation Day recalls not only the historical event of October 31, 1517 and the nailing of the 95 thesis by Martin Luther to the castle door at Wittenberg, but the ensuing revival that shook the world. It was, indeed, a revival and not simply a political realignment of Papal or princely allegiances. It drew divisions in the human soul, from lost to saved, from thinking thoughts after superstition and extra Biblical doctrines that were covering Biblical faith, to new life in Christ, thinking thoughts after God and a fresh appreciation for the supremacy of the Bible in the Church. It was a recovery of the Augustinian—the Pauline—doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to God’s glory alone and all according to Scripture alone.
I believe that we need to recover Reformation Day in our churches. I don’t mean that we do away with “games and goodies” night, or that we require the children to dress up like Calvin and Knox, an embarrassing attempt to blend Halloween and Protestantism, by any estimation. Have you ever seen a really happy child dressed as Calvin (I do have an old photo of my son dressed like Whitefield, I admit)? I do propose that our churches mark this season with times of preaching and teaching and evangelizing and missions conferences and other such spiritual times of refreshment. Celebrate the doctrine. Celebrate the freedom that the truth of Jesus brings. Throughout the global south and global east, that same Reformation is now spreading. People are casting off the old and putting on the new. Jesus Christ is being magnified as Lord and Savior. He is re- forming human souls, and thus, families, and cultures.
Reformation Day is a time to recall that God “came down” through one man, and the glory of His doctrines bubbled over into the lives of others. Revival happened. It is therefore a time to remember that Christ, and we as His people, are to be about the glorious work of preaching the Gospel that the reforms minds and hearts, recalibrating them to the truth of the Scriptures and the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day in the life of the Church worth recovering; a day worth reforming.