Editor’s Note: Dr. Andy Woods has given us a wonderful, new, thought-provoking book called Ever Reforming: Dispensational Theology and the Completion of the Protestant Reformation, from Dispensational Publishing House. It has been my joy to collaborate with Woods on compiling this very unique volume. It directly challenges two widely held beliefs. One is that the Protestant Reformation is complete. The other is that it has little or nothing to do with dispensational theology. The work is scholarly in that it is filled with quotations and references to support its assertions, but it is also written in an easy-to-read, almost conversational style. Woods makes the history of the Protestant Reformation come alive with relevance to our own times. I can think of no higher honor for myself, personally, on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation than to commend it to you. To give you a taste of the book, we have drawn the following blog post from its introduction and first chapter.
I recently traveled to Germany twice during this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. I stood at places like the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses.
You see, on Oct. 31, 1517—500 years ago today—this monk, priest and professor, Martin Luther, triggered a chain reaction that was felt all throughout Europe. Despite the historical license that is often taken with these events, we need to understand that what Luther was really trying to do was to begin a conversation.
This was actually a common way of starting a dialogue or a dispute in Luther’s day, and I think that he was surprised—more than anyone else—when the Roman Catholic Church, the only church of the day, eventually denounced him as a heretic.
But God worked sovereignly and strategically through these events, and it set off that reaction that we call the Protestant Reformation. We today are enjoying the fruit of that Reformation 500 years ago, but most Christians do not know much about it because we do not get a lot of historical teaching in our churches.
I hope that this book will fill in the gaps so that you will understand what happened 500 years ago—how God used these men, and especially how they put into motion a method of interpretation, called the literal, grammatical, historical method, which subsequent generations took and applied to the entirety of the Bible.
In fact, we would not have the theology that we have today were it not for God’s initial work through the Protestant Reformers.
The Protestant Reformers had a far-reaching impact, but they brought about only a partial restoration.
People have a tendency to place these Reformers on a pedestal and act like they completed the revolution, which they did not. Reformed theology, which was birthed out of the churches begun by the Reformers, has not completed that revolution, either. It would be up to other Christians to take the method that the Protestant Reformers used and complete that revolution by applying it to the whole Bible.
Why was the Protestant Reformation only a partial restoration? It was because they used the literal method of interpreting the Bible selectively. But, had they not given us that methodology—this great blueprint—at all, subsequent generations could not have come along and applied it consistently.
Stop and think for a moment: What in the world has God been doing since the closing of the New Testament canon? There have been almost 2,000 years of church history since that time, and we will try to put those pieces together—highlighting and emphasizing specifically what the Protestant Reformers accomplished 500 years ago.
But you cannot appreciate what the Reformers accomplished at all until you understand all that needed to be retrieved. You cannot appreciate a solution until you understand the problem.
What you must recognize first is information about the state of Christianity for the first two centuries of church history. Unless you understand that foundation, you cannot really comprehend what was lost. And unless you realize what was lost you cannot understand the work that God did in church history to raise up people like Martin Luther, and others, to restore what had been lost.
This is why I am not starting this study with the Protestant Reformation. I am starting at the very beginning—because unless you appreciate that beginning, and the foundation that was laid, and the baton that was handed off, you will not have any concept as to what God did through a monk named Martin Luther in 1517.
Dr. Andy Woods is a prolific author and speaks nationally on Bible prophecy and related issues. He is senior pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church in Sugar Land, Texas, and the new president of Chafer Theological Seminary in Albuquerque, N.M. We greatly value the opportunity to work with him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.
Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Andy Woods. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB),
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)