Posted by: stpowen | March 5, 2015

The People’s Reformation: Introduction

Psalm 77:10-11. ‘And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the works of the LORD. Surely I will remember Your wonders of old; I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.’

First of all, may I give my sincere apologies to my long-suffering reader for the lack of articles on this blog since Christmas. The reason is very simple: I have been snowed under with my secular work, and at the same time have been doing more work both in my own church and as a peripatetic preacher. I am glad to say that I am finally able to get my priorities right by retiring from secualr work at the end of April, following which my contributions to this blog should increase exponentially.

As many readers will know, October 31st 2017 is the 500th anniversary of what is generally considered to be the start of the Reformation. It is the day when a young monk named Martin Luther nailed upon the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, his famous 95 theses. These were his protest against the policy of ‘Indulgences,’ which were being sold by the Church of Rome, largely to finance the re-building of St. Peter’s in Rome. Luther’s protest was the spark that ignited the great Protestant Reformation, and without doubt there are even now many books being written on the subject, timed to be published in 2017.

The Reformation in England is usually represented as being largely the work of King Henry VIII, who took the English church out of the Church of Rome in 1534, after the Pope had refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. It is my intention (DV), in a series of articles, to show that the English Reformation was, under God, a People’s movement which started long before 1517 and was begun, sustained and completed (though partially) through the faith, constancy, suffering and shed blood of countless ordinary Englishmen, most of whose names are now forgotten. Behind all the manoeuvrings of kings, courtiers and priests, we shall find the sovereign work of God in the lives of ordinary men and women.

This is not just an academic exercise, commenced to fill in the long hours of my impending retirement, but will, I hope, be a call to action for the contemporary evangelical Church. I believe with all my heart that Britain needs a new reformation, a return to the word of God and to the primacy of preaching, along with a separation from unbelief and ritual. If I can play just a tiny part in bringing that about, whatever time I take in writing this series will be very well spent.

In order to set the scene, the next article will be a brief and potted history of Christianity in Britain from its arrival until its complete domination by Rome in the Middle Ages. This article is already well under way and will (DV) appear within the next week or so.

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