Two Cheers for the 500th Anniversary
Your editor’s dread of 2017 began about four years ago when all of the European cities that could lay claim to even the tiniest connection to that Wittenberg door started planning their tourism campaigns. Medals are being issued, along with stamps, books and collectibles. All of this I could have silently endured, but then the state churches got into the act.
Festivals and processions are going on across the pond with great regularity, sponsored by church organizations that have a robust connection to the history of the Reformation, while in many cases an equally robust aversion to the doctrines of the Reformation.
While my local church always breaks out the bratwurst on October 31st, and celebrates that God is, indeed, a mighty fortress, the current ongoing celebration by secular and decidedly non-Reformed ecclesiastical institutions leaves me a little underwhelmed. Not to put too fine a point on it, but do we really need to buy a set of commemorative plates to affirm our fealty?
There is much to admire about Mr. Luther (and a few things that chill our bones), but we would be quite remiss not to point out that Ulrich Zwingli was beginning a similar work at the same time. And obviously, Wycliffe and Hus preceded them both by many generations. Our point is that this reformation thing is an ongoing process, and one as surely aided by Gutenberg’s providential invention of the printing press as by a monk tagging a church door.
And so, along with our stories about the Zurich “sausage crisis,” and another of one of Zwingli’s Anabaptist students, we’ll also explore just how downright messy it gets when the Spirit of God moves among His people. A case in point is the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting, which was as popular in some quarters as those two Israelites prophesying in the camp. Whether one sees piety and doctrine as two sides of the same coin, or as polar opposites, it simply will not do to ignore the history. And so, we lay revivalism and its many fruits at the door of the Reformed church (and to a lesser extent the Lutheran), because that’s the world we know best, and because that’s the door out of which revivalists have often marched, or been summarily tossed.
On the Cover
The North Dutch Church, Fulton and William Streets, New York, 1869
The Jan-Mar 2017 issue includes these articles:
- The Fulton Street Revival
- Johan Gutenberg
- Conrad Grebel
- The Affair of the Sausages
- Those Unruly Sons of Calvin