Today in Church History: The First Reformed Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper

On December 7, 1524, the Lord’s Supper was observed from a Reformed perspective.  According to Hughes Oliphant Old, it took place at St. Martin’s Church in Memmingen (South Germany) under the oversight of Christoph Schappeler.  Under the leadership of this preacher, the imperial free city of Memmingen committed itself to the Reformation early.  Schappeler arrived in 1513, and as early as 1522, he was preaching against the Roman Mass.

Little is known about that first service other than that it was in the evening.  But what started that night would eventually lead to the development of the Memmingen Service Book of 1529, which was an attempt to arrive at a synthesis of the various existing Reformed liturgies.  The liturgy has been preserved: Continue reading


Reformation Liturgy for Evening Service October 31, 2010

On Sunday evening, we remembered the 493rd anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the doors of All Saints’ Church in Whittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, which created the spark that would become the blaze known as the Protestant Reformation. To try and help the church see our Reformation roots in worship, we utilized one of the first Reformed liturgies that was developed for providing distinctively Reformed worship. I put together a liturgy that was based on the initial reforms instituted by Martin Bucer in Strasbourg, which have been recorded in his work Grund und Ursach from 1524, together with later insights from his reforms in his 1537 and 1539 liturgies.

To maintain some semblance with our normal service we included an explicit call to worship and response at the beginning of the service. So in the liturgy below, Bucer’s liturgy begins at “Confession of Sin, Pardon, and Thanksgiving.” Bucer began with the Confession of Sin because he believed that Reformed worship was premised on the recovery of the ministry of the Word of God. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ’s ministry was built on the ministry of John the Baptist, which was a ministry calling sinners to repent. If Christ’s ministry was built on calling for repentance, and Reformed worship was a continuation of Christ’s ministry of the Word, then the worship service should be built on repentance and confession of sin. Continue reading

Reformation Rally in Sunnyside, WA

Shane Lems from The Reformed Reader has announced the following:

Reformation Rally – October 29, 2010

We’ve got the date down for our 3rd annual Reformation Rally: October 29, 2010 (Friday night).

Time: 7-8 PM

Location: 1750 Sheller Road (in Sunnyside, WA – at the United Reformed Church)

Topic: Worship According to the Word: The Reformation Recovery of Biblical Worship

Speakers: Rev. Matt Barker (Emmanuel OPC in Kent, WA) and Rev. Shane Lems (The URC of Sunnyside)

Other notes: We will also sing several hymns and enjoy snacks and fellowship after the two lectures.

Stay tune for more details – and be sure to pass this info along!

Looks like it will be good.  I hope they post the audio.  If you’re in the area, you may want to check it out.

Reformation Heritage Conference with Dr. Joel Beeke

For the past six years, Grace PCA in Douglasville, GA has hosted a Reformation Heritage Conference.  The past conference messages have been archived in mp3 files and can be found at the following links:

2004 RHC:  Calvin, Geneva, & Reformed Worship with Dr. Derek Thomas
2005 RHC:  American Reformation Heritage with Dr. Darryl G. Hart
2006 RHC:  The Scottish Reformation with Rev. Iain Murray
2007 RHC:  The German Reformation with Dr. Carl Trueman
2008 RHC: The Reformation & the Means of Grace with Dr. Michael Horton
2009 RHC: Music, Singing, & the Reformation with Dr. Paul Jone

Grace is once again hosting the conference and have announced on their website: Continue reading

>2009 Reformation Sunday Sermons

>Last month I had the privilege to fill the pulpit for Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC on Reformation Sunday. So for my two sermons I chose to look at the two foundational principles of the Reformation: the formal principle and the material principle. The formal principle of the Reformation, or sola scriptura, teaches that the scripture alone is the sole authority for the faith and practice of the church, while the material principle, or sola fide, teaches that the justification of a sinner before a holy God is received by faith alone.

These principles are not extra biblical ideas that have been used for understanding the Bible, rather they come from the Bible itself. And one place where you see these two principles working hand in hand is in the first chapter of Leviticus.

For the morning service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-3 & John 1.14-18 “Sola Scriptura: The Formal Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.

For the evening service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-9 & Romans 3.21-26 “Sola Fide: The Material Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.

The main content of the sermons comes from sermons I preached last year while in Leviticus 1-7, but they have new arrangements to fit the special occasion.

>The Value of Reformed Hymnody and Psalmody

>In his lecture “Music, Singing, and the Protestant Reformation,” Paul Jones provides an excellent history and introduction to the importance of the Reformation and the recovery and development of congregational singing in worship. With the Reformation came the recovery of reading and studying the Bible in the original languages. From their studies, the Reformers, like Martin Luther and John Calvin, were able to see the errors propagated by the Roman Catholic Church in doctrine and worship. Their reading of scripture and recovery of the truth led them to protest those false teachings and practices, especially in worship. In the 1000 years prior to the Reformation, the congregation would not participate in worship through song. Singing was reserved for the clergy and choirs. But with the influence of Luther and Calvin, congregational singing once again became an essential element of worship.

Martin Luther did much in recovering and developing congregational hymnody. One of the problems in the Roman Catholic Church was the use of Latin in the worship services. The Bible they used was the Latin Vulgate and the entire liturgy was performed in Latin. Most of the laity did not know Latin (in fact many of the clergy didn’t either), so they had very little understanding of what was taking place in the service. And if they did know Latin, they still were not able to read the Bible for themselves, for the Bible was not made available in the pew, but was reserved for the clergy and scholars alone. Luther changed all of this.

He facilitated the witting participation of the congregation in worship with three radical changes. First, he began conducting worship in the German language so the congregation could understand and participate in the worship liturgy. Second, he translated the Bible into the German language. This way the congregation could read the Bible in their own language. This translation into the common tongue, combined with the use of the Gutenberg printing press, facilitated many acquiring a Bible they could read and understand. But what about the persons who could not read and did not have anyone to read to them? Well, third, he produced hymns in German. The hymns were Luther’s way to teach doctrine to his people in a way that they could easily remember, since he noted that people recall the words to songs much more readily than the words from a sermon.

John Calvin also contributed much to congregational participation in worship through singing. Though Calvin was not a musician like Luther, he nonetheless viewed music and singing as one of the most excellent gifts of the Holy Spirit. Calvin wanted the people to sing–especially the canonical psalms. So Calvin developed French psalmody by utilizing French poets and artists (like Clément Marot, Loys Bourgeois, and Guillaume Franc) to collaborate with him on the development of a Psalter. In 1562, the Genevan (or Hueguenot) Psalter was completed and published. Because Calvin understood the Bible’s command that all the congregation praise God through singing, he gave the French speaking Protestants metrical psalms that they could sing in the worship God. Very quickly, the Genevan Psalter was translated into German, Dutch, English and other languages so that congregations of many different cultures, ethnicities and languages had biblical songs to sing in their own language, which they could understand.

The point here is that in recovering biblical Christian doctrine and biblical Christian worship, there was a recovery and development of public, corporate worship where all the congregation participated in praising God through singing. Luther and Calvin understanding this importance gave the Protestant Christians biblical church music for them (and us) to sing. Part of what it means to be a child of the Reformation, then, is to understand the musical heritage that we inherit in the hymnody and psalmody of the Reformers. A heritage that has been preserved and passed down to us in Hymn Books and Psalters.

Yet, there is a trend today to move away from our Protestant and Reformation heritage. In the last couple of decades, there has been a movement to replace hymnals and Psalters with movie screens and power point. Psalm singing has almost disappeared completely, while the songs that are sung in many churches are no longer the historic hymns of our faith that teach us biblical doctrine. These songs are being replaced with trite praise choruses that focus more on one’s existential experience of God in order to have a spiritual experience, than in communicating the truth of God’s word back to him as a reflection of his truth and glory. There is also a trend to utilize more “special music” where special choirs, worship teams, ensembles and soloists do so much of the singing that the congregation is being sung to, as much as, if not more than, it itself participates in the singing.

Are these trends a good development for the church’s worship and life? Is this going to nourish us and enrich our worship of God? Jones thinks not,

There is something wrong with throwing out the hymnals and Psalters. You see, people died for our right to hold song books in our hands, and to read them, and to have them in our homes, and places of worship, to teach them to our children and to share them with each other. This move to be unencumbered by hymnals will prove to be a disastrous one for the spiritual health of the church. We think we’re freeing ourselves to worship better, but what we’re actually doing is impoverishing our worship now, and for our children and grandchildren in the future. It only takes one generation for a hymn to disappear from use.

Although many are making these changes with good motives and intentions, by forgetting the past and not thinking about what we are doing (why we do it, how we do it, if we should do it, etc.) in the present, we unwittingly can lead the church into repeating the errors of the past and developing our own novel traditions that distort true, biblical worship today. The answer obviously is found in scripture. We must take the time to think biblically about our worship. And according to Jones, the Reformation’s teaching on music, singing and worship promotes and reinforces just that,

If the Reformers have taught us anything by their example, it is that we must take time to examine our ways and methods, that we must measure them by the principles of scripture, that we must ensure the biblical models are followed when it comes to worshiping the one who created us for that very purpose. They have taught us to go to the Bible . . . it gives us guiding principles that can be applied and are instructive for us.

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;}Reformed hymnody and psalmody are valuable and essential for the Church today because they teach us our heritage, they help us to learn and remember scripture and doctrine, and they protect us from falling into the snare of idolatrous worship as the Church did long ago, and from which the Reformation freed us. To quote from Jones one more time,

Singing Psalms and hymns, writing new ones, holding these collections of prayers and doctrinal teaching in our hands–these privileges are our birthright as children of the Reformation. This is our music; we must value it, treasure it, teach it and share it, and above all, sing it, for God’s glory and our enrichment as his children.

The Catholic leaders during the time of the Reformation claimed that they could have stopped the spread and influence of “Luther’s heresy” if it wasn’t for the hymnody that caused it to spread like wildfire throughout Europe. It was Reformation hymnody and psalmody that played a key role in the recovery and propagation of the light of the true gospel. If we give up our Hymnals and Psalters, we will lose our hymns and our psalms, we will give up our identities as Reformed Protestants, and we risk developing spiritual anemia–and the Protest may soon be over. For as surely as Reformation hymnody and psalmody played a role in the recovery and spread of the true Christian faith for past generations, it certainly also plays a crucial role in guarding and preserving it for future generations to come.

>Classic Luther Movie Free on Internet

>This past Saturday was October 31, and was the 492nd anniversary of the day a monk and a mallet set things in motion to radically alter Christianity and the western world. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, fed up with the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of indulgences, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church, All Saints’ Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. Little did he know that his little document would come to be one of the most read documents in western civilization, nor that the course of history would change with the Protestant Reformation that would soon over take Europe.

October 31 is now known as Reformation Day. I have a tradition every year on or around Reformation Day to watch one of the movies made about Martin Luther. The first is a black and white classic produced in 1953, while the second is a more recent production from 2003. This year, however, since all of our things are in storage, I didn’t have mine to watch.

Well, I found the 1953 edition online for free. If you have never watched it, then you need to take the time. This film does a good job of providing a helpful overview of the major events of Luther’s life and the start of the Reformation, beginning with his leaving law school to become a monk (1507), to his nailing of the 95 Theses (1517), to his “Here I Stand” speech at the Diet of Worms (1521), to the reading of the Augsburg Confession before Emperor Charles V (1530).

So grab some popcorn and enjoy a good movie that will entertain, as well as, teach you things you ought to know. You can watch it below, or you can find it at Retrovision Internet TV.


>Semper Reformanda: A Misunderstood and Misused Motto

>In the previous post, I included a couple of paragraphs from a recent article by John Muether, “Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC.” In the post, I quote two paragraphs that are concerned with the recent and popular notion that to maintain the Reformed motto semper reformanda (always reforming), that the church must constantly be open to change. But is this what the phrase means?

In this month’s edition of Tabletalk, Michael Horton examines the orgin and true meaning of this misunderstood and misused motto. Here’s a snippet:

This perspective keeps us from making tradition infallible but equally from imbibing the radical Protestant obsession with starting from scratch in every generation. When God’s Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to “that Word above all earthly pow’rs,” to borrow from Luther’s famous hymn. Neither behind us nor ahead of us, but above us, reigns our sovereign Lord over His body in all times and places. When we invoke the whole phrase — “the church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God” — we confess that we belong to the church and not simply to ourselves and that this church is always created and renewed by the Word of God rather than by the spirit of the age.

The article is quite helpful so check it out here.

>Dayton Reformation Conference with Darryl Hart

>It’s October and you know what that means, no not candy and Halloween, it’s Reformation month. October 31, 2009 will mark 492 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Saxony (present day Germany), which helped to begin the Protestant Reformation.

On this October 31, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Dayton, OH will be hosting the twelfth annual Dayton Reformation Conference. The topic this year will be “From Evangelical to Emerging: Christianity in America,” and the key note speaker will be Darryl Hart.

Check out the brochure for more information.

>Indulgences Are Back

>It breaks my heart to report that The New York Times is running a story today about the return of indulgences. Yes, that’s right, indulgences. It was the selling and abuses of indulgences that sparked Martin Lutherto nail his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” or 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg in 1517, which is widely regarded as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

According to the article, the indulgence is one of the traditions that was decoupled from mainstream Catholic practice in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council that has been revived by Pope Benedict XVI. The articles describes indulgences:

According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day. [emphasis mine]

Although we often tend to think of these issues in terms of theological debate. We must remember that the theological concern is pastoral in nature. This system of penance is directly opposed to the gospel of redemption accomplished and applied by Jesus Christ.

The purpose here is not to point out every error, but in the quote above, notice the words in italics–until another sin is committed. The indulgence accomplishes the exact opposite of what it promises. Its design is to extend hope to the one who earns it–but only until the next sin is committed. It doesn’t secure anything! Where is the hope in that?

All that is accomplished by the indulgence is the reminder of the ongoing dilemma of sin! All the indulgence can accomplish is to reveal that it is not the answer. Worse yet, rather than providing hope, it obscures and robs hope.

This revival of indulgences is a reminder that there is still a need for the gospel of the Protestant Reformation. So keep on protesting and seeking to be reformed according to scripture–and pray for those languishing in bondage to the false gospel of indulgences.

[HT: Scott Clark]