October 31st: Reformation Day or Halloween?

by James and Barbara Rose

October 31st is the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. From reading the Scriptures (Romans 1:17), he came to believe that justification by faith—not works—was the way of Salvation through Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Halloween is also a “religious day” with roots in paganism and witchcraft. Celebrated on October 31st, Halloween “can be traced to the Druids, an order of priests in ancient Britain, who believed that on that evening, Samon, the lord of the dead, called forth evil spirits and spirits of the dead. They lighted great fires for sacrifices and protection. The sacrifices they required were human sacrifices from locals, with the promise that no harm would come to the household” ( Researched and compiled by the Challenge of America Ministry). “Later, ‘trick or treat’ meant begging for food for the village Halloween festivities in the name of their ancient gods” (Excerpts from “Christian Worldview, Vol. 4 No. 5, Sept./Oct. 1991). For Christians, celebrating Reformation Day is a positive alternative to Halloween.

Whether you celebrate the Reformation or not, it was providentially used in England to bring forth the Bible in English. “More than one hundred years before Luther, rose the ‘Morning-star of the Reformation,’ John Wycliffe, first in the line of evangelical reformers to whom the Gospel was the precious measure of reform. An important part of his ministry was to place the Bible in the heart of the individual. To do this, Wycliffe made one of the earliest translations of the Scriptures from the Latin into English (1382)” (Slater, Rosalie, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, the Principle Approach, FACE, p. 166). It was hand written with a quill pen. Wycliffe “published certain conclusions… that the New Testament or Gospel is a perfect rule of life and manners and ought to be read by the people” (Hall, Verna, The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Christian Self-Government (CHOC), FACE, p. 28A).

“William Tyndale is the Father of our present English Bible. It has been estimated that, (of Tyndale’s Bible—1525) that our Bibles retain at the present day something like eighty per cent in the Old Testament, and ninety per cent in the New. If this estimate may be accepted no grander tribute could be paid to the industry, scholarship, and genius of the pioneer whose indomitable resolution enabled him to persevere in labors prolonged through twelve long years of exile from the land that in his own words he so ‘loved and longed for’ (England) with the practical certainty of a violent death staring him all the while in the face” (Hall, CHOC, p.30). “After a sixteen month imprisonment, an ecclesiastical panel convicted Tyndale of heresy in August, 1536 and turned him over to the secular authority. In October of the same year he was executed, being first strangled and then burned at the stake.” (www.williamtyndale.com)  William Tyandale’s last words were: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

Myles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers had remained loyal disciples the last six years of Tyndale’s life, and they carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in 1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language, making use of Luther’s German text and the Latin as sources. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known as the Coverdale Bible.

In 1539, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the “Great Bible.” It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English. It would seem that William Tyndale’s last wish had been granted…just three years after his martyrdom (discipleaaron.christianexodus.us/libertypulpit/id80.htm).

Themes of the Reformation

SOLA FIDES – Faith alone
“The just shall live by faith.”
(Romans 1:17)

SOLA CHRISTO – Christ alone
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father,
but my me.”
(John 14:6)

SOLA SCRIPTURA – Scripture alone
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
And is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness:”
(II Timothy 3:16)

SOLA GRATIA – Grace alone
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the
gift of God: not by works, lest any man should boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8, 9)

SOLI DEO GLORIA — For the Glory of God Alone
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God.”

© 2009. Used by permission.

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