Church History 6B: Reformed Theology

Five “Solas” The theological focus of the Protestant Reformation is often summarized in five short Latin phrases. Sola Scriptura, “the Scripture alone”. Only the Bible is the ultimate authority and norm for the teaching of the church. The Reformers rejected the right of the Pope to make additional proclamations, or the claim of an “oral…

Church History 6A: The Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. He was a preacher and theology professor in Wittenberg, North Germany. Luther disagreed with the practice of selling indulgences, church-issued declarations of forgiveness of sins. To start a debate, he wrote 95 theses concerning this matter and published them on the door…

Church History 5B: The Medieval Church

Charlemagne After the Fall of Rome (476 AD) Western Europe was divided. This marks the beginning of the Middle Ages, which may be roughly dated from 500 to 1500 AD. An important factor during the Middle Ages is the rise of Islam (around 625 AD) and the following Muslim conquest. In the early 700s, Muslims…

Church History 5A: The Eastern Church

The Byzantine Empire After the Fall of Rome (476 AD), the Western part of the Empire crumbled. It was a time of unrest, war and poverty. Meanwhile, the East (Greece, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, Egypt) flourished, especially in the sixth and seventh centuries. From this time onward, the Eastern Roman Empire is usually called Byzantine empire.…

Church History 4D: Augustine

The life of Augustine Aurelius Augustine was born in 354 AD in Tagaste, North-Africa, as son of a heathen father (Patricius) and a devout Christian mother (Monica). He received a good education. During his wild high school years in Carthage, Augustine went in search of redemption. This led him to the Manicheans (see below). After…

Covenantal and Experiential Preaching

In my essay on redemptive-historical preaching, the focus was on the content of the sermon. Now I will focus on the recipients of the sermon: who are addressed and in what way? A first answer is found in the Canons of Dort, 2.5. “Th[e] promise [of the gospel] ought to be announced and proclaimed universally…

Redemptive-Historical Preaching

This article addresses a focus in preaching that is practiced in the Reformed churches, and which I also much utilize in my own sermon-writing. Redemptive-historical preaching is neither a preaching style nor a homiletical method. The adjective “redemptive-historical” expresses the homiletical and exegetical concern that full justice must be done to God’s great plan that…

Church History 4C: Church Organization

Offices in the New Testament Already in the New Testament we find various offices or designated functions in the Christian church. The apostles chosen by Jesus himself formed a unique group of leaders. When they established churches, they appointed overseers, which are also called elders, to have positions of leadership and teaching. So-called servants would…

Church History 4B: “Who Is Jesus?”

Constantine the Great The situation of the Christian church changed greatly in the early 300s. When Constantine I (“the Great”) became Roman emperor, he issued the Edict of Milan (313 AD) declaring freedom of religion. Soon after, he made Christianity the state religion. In just two decades, Christianity changed from being severely persecuted to being…