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Does The Reformation Still Matter? by Richard Burnett, Managing Editor

“There is no question the mainline church is dead,” he said. “The only question now is whether Evangelicalism is the seven demons that come into the corpse.” This was the response I got after a long period of silence to a question I had posed to my teacher, George Lindbeck, in a course on “Comparative Ecclesiology” in the fall semester, 1992, at Yale University Divinity School.

I did not like it. I considered myself an evangelical (and still do). Nor was I ready to forsake my mainstream ecclesial inheritance. Yet even then I suspected that one reason I did not like my teacher’s verdict was because there was more truth in it than I was prepared to admit. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p.1

Three Pastoral Insights From Martin Luther by Raymond Hylton

Like many pastors across America and the world, I encouraged our congregation to observe the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. But churches were not the only ones honoring this historic moment. Print media, television networks, BBC, NPR, social media and numerous internet outlets tried to cover the importance of Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg and the revolution that he sparked. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p.2

Calvin’s Way of Preaching in a Digital Age by Richard Gibbons

Today as churches around the world continue to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation the question uppermost in my mind is: Does the preaching model provided by our reforming forefathers have anything relevant to say to a generation dominated by the ubiquitous convenience of a digital playground? It could well be argued that this generation’s identity is defined by access to smart phones, tablets, Hulu, Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p.4

No Substitute for the Word by Patricia Crout Gwinn

The word proclaimed is central to Reformed worship. If and when it is neglected the body can no longer stand with any real integrity and uprightness. The priority of preaching in worship and as worship is one of the contributions of the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition to the larger ecumenical community. So does the Reformation still matter? Yes, more than ever, and particularly as regards the word of God preached. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p.6

The Bible’s Church by Timothy P. McConnell

Does the Bible belong to the church or does the church belong to the Bible? We tend to lose track of the profound influences that formed the world in which we live and shaped the way we do the things. Christians are so accustomed today to having access to the Bible we fail to realize that this access was hard won. The Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura altered the course of the church, and arguably the course of western civilization. It is still contested to this day. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p. 7

Worship Matters by Walter L. Taylor

Throughout the 500th anniversary celebration of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther has been the principal character for reflection. At the center of Luther’s personal quest, which led to the important role he played in the Reformation, was a question: How is one made right (justified) before God?” In answering the question of whether the Reformation still matters, one must decide whether the question that motivated Luther matters today. No doubt, there are those for whom such a question is out-of-date or even a bit “passé”, theologically. Perhaps that fact in itself shows us that the Reformation still matters more than ever! Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p 8

Doing Life Together: A Priesthood of All Believers by Nancy A. Duff

Fifty million American adults attend faith-based small groups regularly, according to a 2016 survey of the U.S. Census Bureau.[i] Yet just over 500 years ago, this common faith practice would have been seen as dangerous and displeasing to God. Although small groups are not a direct outcome of the Reformation, they are part of its legacy: The Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers has shaped how the body of Christ functions together today. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p 9

Living by Grace Alone by Helen Harrison Coker

She sat across from me, imprisoned in pain because she doubted her self-worth and questioned her identity. As her pastor, I tried to reassure her that she was a beloved child of God, so loved in fact that Jesus voluntarily died for her and lavished His amazing grace upon her. But she had been bound for years by chains of lies, lies that had led her to this place of pain. She struggled to break free from those shackles. What more could I do to help her? What did I learn in all those seminary classes that would make a difference in her reality? Does the Reformation even matter to her? Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p. 11

How the Reformation Shapes our Life Together by Edwin Hurley

Last Spring I was planting vegetables and noticed printed on the plastic wrapper around one tomato plant the slogan, “Deep roots produce abundant fruits.” As I reflected on this claim, I thought about how this applies to my own understanding of ministry and how it shapes the life of the church I serve. I thought about the deep roots of our Reformation heritage and how grateful we should be for this heritage, how it has shaped us in the past, continues to bear fruit in the present, and gives us reason to look ahead in hope to future harvests. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p. 12

The Call to Reformation by Peter Barnes

When Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses, I imagine he had little thought about how it would affect not only his life and the Roman Catholic Church of his day, but also how his actions would reverberate throughout history and actually change the world. When he started out, no one expected him to be someone who would change the theological landscape of Europe in the 1500s. In fact, it was a complete surprise to his family that he became a theologian in the first place. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, p. 13

The Source of Revolution by Gerrit Dawson

October 31, 1517 is 500th anniversary of a revolution. It began when a young, obscure theologian in an insignificant town in Germany rediscovered the radical grace of the gospel. It soon set the world ablaze. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a copy of his 95 theological challenges to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the crystallizing moment for a movement that had been growing around Europe. For a hundred years, the Bible had been translated into the languages everyday people could understand. Reading the Scriptures in plain language was kindling a fire in the hearts that maybe Jesus Christ is different than the medieval church had said he was. Maybe there could be some freedom from the relentless cycle of sin, confession, penance, and the purchasing of so-called indulgences to reduce one’s punishment for sin. Fall 2017 Theology Matters, P. 15