Many people believe Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, was a rabble-rouser, a rebel in the Catholic church who pushed for its split, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It’s a common misconception that Martin Luther sought to be the founder of a new religion, a cult, or even a denomination. Luther did not seek to break away from the church to which he belonged (although it inevitably came to be),” says Rev. Derek Roberts of Praise Lutheran Church in Maryville.
Today, Luther would likely stand opposed to the multitude of protestant movements and sects within Christianity, just as he stood against abuses in the church five centuries earlier. In his reforming work, Luther maintained earlier ecumenical confessions of faith such as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, along with all the salutary traditions and practices that purely taught the Gospel, encouraged holy living, and devotion to Christian truth. “For these reasons and others, he is sometimes called ‘the conservative reformer,’” says Roberts.
In a letter to some of his friends, Luther wrote, “I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for any one. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christian. How then should I, poor, foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of Christ a name derived from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after Him Whose doctrine we have.”
Nonetheless, in time, the name “Lutheran” became associated with churches that believe and confess the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures and who honored certain (but not all) writings by Luther and others as being in concord (harmony) with the Scriptures. The Book of Concord was compiled to unite Lutheran churches in the later part of the 16th century and many worldwide Lutheran churches today still subscribe and identify fellowship with one another by subscription to the same.
The public is invited to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at Praise Lutheran Church (LCMS) with a Festival Divine Service (think lots of red, lots of choir accompaniment to the liturgy, organ and brass fanfare, along with Christ-centered preaching and rejoicing) on Sunday, October 29 at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call (865) 977-5810 or visit praiselutheran.com.