REFORMATION 500: Sola Scriptura

And the Reformers were clear that in order to control and check the movement of Christian tradition from age to age a norm was needed.  That norm was the written Word, and so the Bible was for them the supreme “given” element in the Church and the final authority for all our forms of worship.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):73


REFORMATION 500: The Continuing Need for Reformation

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin has commented that when the average Christian in Europe or North America hears the name of God, he or she does not think of the Trinity. After many years of missionary work among Eastern religions, he returned to find that much of the worship in the West is in practice, if not in theory, unitarian. The “religion” of so many people today is moulded by concepts of God which obscure the joyful witness of the Bible to the triune God of grace. God is conceived of too often as the remote sovereign Individual Monad “out there,” the law-giver, the contract-God who needs to be, or can be, conditioned into being gracious by devout religious behavior or by this or that religious act, be it even repentance or prayer. The Reformers were concerned to sweep away these views of God, but in spite of the Reformation, such concepts are alive and highly influential in our day.

—James B. Torrance, “Contemplating the Trinitarian Mystery of Christ,” Chapter 12 in Alive to God: Studies in Spirituality, 141

REFORMATION 500: Returning Worship to the People

One of the great, and often ignored, contributions of the Reformation was to return worship to the people. Somehow, many Protestants have got the idea that prayer books, with written prayers, responsive readings, creeds and the like are Roman Catholic and medieval. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer books were a product of the Reformation and they were written so that the congregation could participate fully in the act of worship.

—Peter Leithart, “Transforming Worship” Foundations 38 (Spring ’97):30

REFORMATION 500: How We Worship

It is equally a fundamental truth of Scripture that we are how we worship. The kind of worship the church engages in shapes the kind of community she becomes and forms the character of individuals who make up the community. This was one of the great insights of the Reformation, for the Reformers were not contesting outright idolatry but wrong worship of the true God. They were struggling not about who was worshipped, for all agreed on that question; they gave their lives to a struggle about how Christians are to worship.

Worship, the Reformers insisted, had to be pure in order to be pleasing to God, and by “pure” worship they meant, first, worship that conformed to Scripture and, second, worship that arose from a genuine devotion to the Lord. [i.e., “worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:23-24]

—Peter Leithart, “Transforming Worship,” Foundations 38 (Spring ’97):27

REFORMATION 500: The Reformation of Worship

It was not simply because the politics of Europe were favorable to the Reformation that it succeeded. The Reformation had very capable leadership. The Reformers were great scholars and men who exercised spiritual leadership of the highest quality. At the center of their reform was a concern for the reform of worship, and they had a profound insight into the nature of worship.

—Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship That Is Reformed According to Scripture, 169

REFORMATION 500: Reforming Worship

The Reformation was by no means merely a restating of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith; it was also intended as a reformation of the worship practices of the church. Two of the marks of the true church, “the right preaching of the word and the right administration of the sacraments,” concern worship.

—Stephen Farris, “Reformed Identity and Reformed Worship,” Reformed World 43:1&2 (Mar. & June `93), 69