|How the Reformation Changed the World|
For a thousand years, the single, celibate life had been upheld as the Christian ideal. Sex, though grudgingly permitted inside marriage, was not to be enjoyed. As the Church father, Jerome, declared in the 4th century: "Anyone who is too passionate a lover with his own wife is himself an adulterer." Augustine advocated sexual relations within marriage to be without emotion and primarily for procreation. A catechism of the Catholic Church written in 1494, applies the third deadly sin (impurity) to married people enjoying sex within marriage.
Luther and the first generation of Protestant Reformers rejected this tradition of over a thousand years, of ascetic sexuality - in both their theology and their lives. The Reformers rejection of the celibate ideal of the Middle Ages was as great a revolution in the home as their teachings were in the Church. Luther literally transferred the praises and esteem that Christians had traditionally heaped upon the celibate monks and nuns, to marriage and the home.
"A companionable woman brings joy to life" Luther wrote. "Women tend to and rear their young, administer the household and are inclined to compassion. God has made them compassionate by nature, so that by their example men may be moved to compassion also."
"Love begins when we wish to serve others." There is no better school for humility and for loving sacrificial service than marriage and parenthood.
Luther wrote that his entrance into the monastery was "a cowardly act". He saw marriage and fatherhood as an essential requirement for effective pastors. Luther had six children (Hans, Elizabeth, Magdalene, Martin, Paul and Margaretha).
Luther urged parents to always discipline their children with forethought and caution, taking into account the unique personality of each. He taught that: "no power on earth is so noble and so great as that of parents."
Luther also wrote: " There is no bond on earth so sweet nor any separation so bitter as that which occurs in a good marriage."
"A wife is easily taken, but to have abiding love, that is the challenge. One who finds it in his marriage, should thank the Lord God for it. Therefore, approach marriage earnestly and ask God to give you a good, pious girl, with whom you spend your life in mutual love. For sex alone establishes nothing in this regard; there must also be agreement in values and character."
Because of the importance attached to companionship in marriage the Reformers endorsed, for the first time in the Western Christendom, genuine divorce and remarriage. Although they viewed marriage as a spiritual bond transcending all other human relationships, a marriage could definitely end this side of eternity and a new one begin for separated spouses. "Christ permits divorce for adultery and compels none to remain unmarried thereafter; and St. Paul would rather have us remarry than burn now with lust and later in hell."
Luther wrote: "It is impossible to keep peace between man and woman in family life if they do not condone and overlook each other's faults, but watch everything to the smallest point. For who does not at times offend?"
Luther's home was described as "half home, half hotel". The Luthers housed up to 30 people in their home at a time - students, orphans, the sick and former monks and nuns. Even on his wedding night, Luther couldn't refuse a person in need. At 11:00pm, after all the guests had left, the radical Reformer and critic of Luther, Andreas Karlstadt, knocked at the door. Karlstadt was fleeing the Peasants' War and needed shelter. Luther took him in.
Luther not only made the Bible part of the daily routine in the home, but he also made the singing of hymns central. He played the flute and the lute, and led his children in singing hymns of praise.
He also introduced the Catechism to explain the faith to children, incorporating Scripture memorisation in the daily routine.
Congregational singing remains one of Martin Luther's most enduring legacies.
"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise," wrote Luther. "I am not of the opinion that all arts are to be cast down and destroyed on account of the Gospel, as some fanatics suggest. On the other hand, I would gladly see all arts, especially music, in the service of Him Who has given and created them."
The Reformation and Science
Modern Science as a discipline is a fruit of the Reformation. As Francis Bacon, the father of the scientific method, once put it: "There are two books laid before us to study; to prevent us falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power."
Historian Robert G. Frank points out: "The predominant forms of scientific activity can be shown to be a direct outgrowth of a Puritan ideology."
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) made vital contributions to mathematics and technology that helped with the development of the computer. Pascal invented the first adding machine. In his honour, a computer language is named after Pascal.
Charles Babbage (1792-1871), the father of modern day computer science, described the world as a great computer, and God as the programmer. Babbage was essentially a mathematician and regarded mathematics as the best preliminary preparation for all other branches of human knowledge. He believed that the study of the works of nature, with scientific precision, was a necessary and indispensable preparation for the understanding and interpreting their testimony of the wisdom and goodness of the Divine Author.
In the realm of physics, Sir Michael Faraday is acknowledged as one of the greatest scientists of all times. He discovered electro-magnetic induction, without which we could have no motors or engines. He invented the generator. Faraday was a devout Christian who declared: "The Bible, and it alone, with nothing added to it nor taken away from it by man, is the sole and sufficient guide for each individual, at all times and in all circumstances. Faith in the Divinity and work of Christ is the gift of God and the evidence of this faith is obedience to the commandments of Christ."
Lord Kelvin, one of the greatest scientists of all times, formulated the metric temperature scale. He formulated the science of thermodynamics, giving us the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Lord Kelvin was the first scientist who used the concept of energy. He declared: "With regard to the origin of life, science positively affirms Creative power."
Joseph Lister, the English surgeon who developed antiseptic surgery and the use of chemical disinfectants, stated: "I am a believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity."
Karl von Linnaeus (1707-1778) was the pioneer of modern botany. He laid the foundation of natural history by devising a system of classification whereby any plant or animal could be identified and related to an overall plan. He introduced the method of naming each type of living being with universal terms that could be recognised in any language. He used the Bible to provide the framework for scientific classification of plants and animals.
James Simpson (1811-1870), the founder of gynaecology and anaesthetics, was inspired by the Scriptural passage that God had made Adam fall into a deep sleep before taking the rib from him, to develop chloroform, and pioneer the beginnings of modern surgical anaesthetics. Before this, operations were conducted on conscious patients.
Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873), the father of modern oceanography and hydrology, derived many of his ideas from the Bible. He was the first person to chart shipping routes throughout the world, pioneered the establishment of sea-lanes and made possible the laying of electric cables across the ocean floor. Maury was inspired by a verse from the Bible (Psalm 8:8, which speaks of the fish that passed through "the paths of the seas"). Maury declared that: "The Bible is true and science is true … the Bible is authority for everything it touches … God is the Great Architect Who planned it all."
It has been pointed out that science could not have developed amongst those who worship Allah, because of Islam's fatalism. Nor could science have been birthed from Hinduism or Buddhism, because of their belief that the world is an illusion. Neither could modern science have risen in our modern humanistic culture, because of the humanist's belief that life is irrational and illogical. By rejecting the notion of absolutes, humanists reject the very foundation of science. If there are no absolutes in nature, then results in experimentation can only be relative. If everything is relative, then engineering, and other branches of science, becomes impossible.
A proper, philosophical base for investigating the universe was needed, and only the Christian doctrine of Creation has provided that base. The Creator established Laws for people and Laws for the natural world. A created universe was expected to have design, order and purpose. Man using his created, rational mind, could study this ordered universe in a rational way and seek to discover its laws. Modern science is based upon this assumption of scientific law. In addition, the moral laws given by the Creator established the ethical basis for science. Scientists must be honest and truthful. If this universe were not created, if it is merely the product of chance, then no intelligence would be involved. There could be no reason to expect such a universe to operate in a rational or consistent way. Man's mind would also be the product of chance and would not be capable of reason or logic. Hence, a materialistic philosophy could not provide any foundation for science. Many ardent atheists dominate science today, but they are working off the foundations and pre-suppositions of Christianity.
When we get into a car, start the engine, turn on the lights, drive to hospital, receive an anaesthetic before an operation, and have an effective operation done in a germ-free environment, we need to remember that we owe it to the Reformation. As Isaac Watts declared in his great Christmas carol: "Joy to the World", Jesus makes His blessings flow "far as the curse is found."
"No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as, the curse is found."
The Reformation and Education
The phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in Christianity. Christianity is a teaching religion. The greatest universities worldwide were started by Christians in fulfilment of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Similarly, John Bunyan (1628-1688) gave the world one of the greatest novels ever written - Pilgrim's Progress. This parable of the Christian life is one of the all-time most published and widely read books in the history of the world.
John Milton (1608-1674) author of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained was the secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and also a Puritan.
As one critic said: "Bach is to music what Shakespeare is to literature. They are both the greatest." And they were both Protestant Christians.
Dr. Peter Hammond
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