March 2017

This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation.

Seen in the light of history, the events of 31st October 1517, when Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, mark a watershed both for Western culture as well as for the Church.

As part of our celebration of this momentous period in Church history, our Associate Rector, the Revd Dr. Gavin McGrath has kindly organised an exciting series of Lent Lectures during March. The details are as follows:

14th March ‘The Anglican Reformers’
Dr Andrew Atherstone, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

21st March ‘Justification by faith’
Dr Justyn Terry, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

28th March ‘The Reformation and Scripture’
Dr Kirsty Birkett, Oak Hill College, London

Each evening meeting starts at 8pm in the Undercroft and visitors are welcome to join us.

But why is it still important to remember the Reformation? No doubt our visiting speakers will be more than able to help us in seeing its ongoing relevance but I would like to prepare the ground by sharing my own thoughts.

  1. The Reformation heralded the centrality of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The focus was not on what we do (works) but on what God has done (grace). The crucial point was that we receive salvation by faith alone - our works contribute absolutely nothing. Still today we are gripped by measuring ourselves against our performance in every area of life. We need the Reformation focus that we are saved by Christ by faith alone through grace alone - ultimately so that it is Christ alone who is glorified.
  2. The Reformation also clarified the need for our faith to be built on Scripture alone. So often the Church has become gripped by human traditions and has struggled to escape the tentacles of our culture which ensnare and domesticate it. The Reformation was a clarion call for the Church to come under the authority of Scripture alone. We still need that Reformation focus - that rather than being shaped by the world around us and its values, we hear the radical call of Christ through His word. Even last month at General Synod this was a call that needed to be heard as marriage and same-sex relationships were discussed and where for all sorts of reasons the clear word of Scripture appeared to be supressed.

So the Reformation needs to be remembered and celebrated so that we as a Church can continue to be reformed by God’s word in order to live for Christ alone. Let’s use the opportunity of these Lent Lectures to help us, not so that we can be better versed in history, but so that we can be better prepared to face the challenges the Church faces in our own generation.

Angus MacLeay

March 2017