Pastor’s Pen – October 2017

Written by Pastor's Pen - October 14, 2017 0 Comments

The Pastor’s Pen

Here’s a multiple-choice question: What do we call the church that began as a result of the Reformation almost 500 years ago?

A) the Lutheran church.

B) the Protestant church.

C) the Evangelical church.

The correct answer is . . . all three. All three names have been given to the church that began with the Reformation. It is called a Lutheran church, because it follows the teachings of Martin Luther. It is called a Protestant church, because it grew out of protests against the abuses of the established church of that day. And it is called an Evangelical church, because the word evangelical comes from a Greek word meaning “good news,” and the church that began with the Reformation is a church that is centered on the good news of Jesus Christ.

Here’s another question: Which of those three names did Martin Luther want the church to be called? The correct answer is . . . Evangelical church.

Luther did not want the church to be named after him. And he didn’t want the church to be known primarily for what it was protesting. Instead, he wanted the church to point people to Christ. That’s what the Reformation was about – reclaiming the good news that through faith in Jesus Christ people are brought into a saving relationship with God, and are then empowered to live as God’s servants and witnesses in the world. For Luther, the word evangelical was the best description of the church. More than any other name, he believed that evangelical captures the New Testament understanding of what the church is.

During this month of October, you and I, along with Christians around the world, will be observing the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. We will remember how, on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed his ninety-five theses, or statements, to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. That was the event that is often considered the beginning of the Reformation. Luther’s ninety-five theses proclaimed the good news that we are justified, we are put right with God, not by anything we might do to try to win God’s favor, but solely by what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate that it was Luther’s rediscovery of that good news, that evangel, that lay at the heart of the Reformation.

As members of St. Andrew, you and I are Protestant Christians, we are Lutheran Christians, and we are evangelical Christians. All three of those names speak to our Reformation heritage. But it’s the name evangelical that perhaps best identifies what God is calling us to be about. It’s the good news of Jesus Christ that is the basis of our salvation. And it’s the good news of Jesus Christ that we are sent into the world to share with others. We are an evangelical church, a church of the good news. May God help us to keep our evangelical identity at the center of our church’s life and mission.

Pastor Selbo

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