Church History

Baptists and Calvinism: Lessons from Sprague’s Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit

"The fact is that most of the early American Baptists were Calvinists.That’s the second lesson we can learn from William Buell Sprague’s Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit, a follow-up piece to my earlier article on Baptists and Preaching." - 9 Marks

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The Reformation at 500: Luther’s Escape to the Wartburg

Wartburg Castle

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

We visited Eisenach and the Wartburg Castle on the Sunday of our 500th anniversary Reformation trip.

The day was gloriously dark and dreary. Fortunately, we felt only a few raindrops. But it was an absolutely perfect day for a ride through the Thuringian Forest.

A young Martin Luther spent several of his most formative years less than three miles from the Wartburg Castle—in Eisenach, where the Cotta family hosted him as a schoolboy preparing to go to the University of Erfurt. We also traced the history of Johann Sebastian Bach that day, and our enthusiastic tour guide—a California transplant—told us excitedly how Eisenach became the source of Western civilization. He seemed to be familiar with every crack in the sidewalk of that city.

The Wartburg Castle is majestically awkward. Consider this fact: It had already been there for nearly 500 years by Luther’s time! The sprawling castle bears evidence of continuous construction, and one can only wonder how many sacrificed their lives in the process of building and maintaining it. The sights from the grounds around the castle, as well as within it, are too magnificent to describe. One can see the majesty of creation looking down from the castle grounds, and the depth of history that this site generates is almost palpable.

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The Reformation at 500: Luther’s Stand at Worms

Read Part 1.

One of the most fascinating sights that we saw on our 500th-anniversary Reformation tour was the Luther Monument—sometimes called the Reformation Monument—which is located across the street from the park where Dr. Martin Luther’s famous stand before the Diet of Worms is memorialized.

In fact, this set of bronze sculptures is described as “the world’s largest monument to the Reformation.”1 Here Luther still takes his stand, proudly holding his German Bible at the very center of the monument, enveloped in the words of his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”2 He stands among his colleagues and others who paved the way for his work of Reformation. Looking at these figures, it is almost as if each one “being dead still speaks” (Heb. 11:4)3.

Beneath his feet—as his foundation, as it were—is this famous quote: “Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, Gott helfe mir: Amen!”

The drama that brought Luther to Worms on April 16, 1521, began officially on June 15 of the previous year, when Pope Leo X promulgated a papal bull against Luther that was titled Exsurge Domine, based on Ps. 74:22, in which he charged Luther with 41 false teachings.

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“Historical knowledge and consciousness are indispensable to the health of the church”

"First, historical knowledge, even if justifiable by its practical uses, is not an end in itself. ...Such disciplines provide needed clarity and direction, and as the companions of the pilgrim save him from much needless wandering. But the pilgrim is not meant only to achieve clarity and a good sense of direction. The pilgrim is meant to attain the fatherland. Second, not just any historical knowledge is worth having." - Conciliar Post

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