The Reformation and Education

During October (as part of the #Write31Days online challenge), we’re unpacking what the Reformation means for our faith community here on our blog. Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

As the seminary ministry apprentice that I (Christa) am, I often groan about my full-time workload, the 4,000 pages of reading I have to do in 11 weeks (not a joke or an exaggeration when I take four classes in a term!), and the writing, don’t even get me started about all the writing! It’s a lot and it’s easy to take my privileged academic position for granted. Without the work of the Reformers, my education wouldn’t be possible.

Prior to the Protestant Reformation, theological education had become solely the work of the church. Theological education was conducted in Latin, a language that excluded lay people, and the church was run by men. When women had access to Christian education, it typically existed only within the confines of convent walls.

The Reformers, with their five solas (sola Scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, sola gratie, soli deo Gloria), set out to change all of that. They wanted to bring theology and Christian education to the people.

Desiderius Erasmus emphasized a “disciplined, biblically based Christianity” (from Diarmond MacCulloch’s book The Reformation: A History, page 102) and in 1511 compared Greek and Latin versions of the Bible. His work paved the way for Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into the German vernacular in 1522.  Anne Locke actively translated devotional materials into English so that Protestants in England could use them for personal study. Also in England, William Tyndale worked to translate the Bible from its original languages into English so that the common people in that country could also read the Word of God in a language they’d understand.

From these humble beginnings during the Reformation, Christian education options have grown and flourished. Resources for personal and communal study abound, as do options for ministry-focused higher education. Whether we pick a book from our Amazon list or register for a seminary class, we do so because of the work of the folks who’ve come before us and paved the way for our studies.

If you’re ready to deepen your study of the Bible, here are some great resources:

By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

Lutheran Study Bible

Bread for the Day: Daily Bible Readings and Prayers

Save the date: October 29! We’ll celebrate the Reformation and the confirmation of 7 young people in our community with one service at 10:00 a.m. Our synod bishop will preach, and we’ll follow the service with an Oktoberfest celebration. Come for the service, stay for the German food, beer and wine (for a donation), a hymn sing and lots of fun!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in 2018.

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