After getting his answer, the minister thanked the boy and said, “If you’ll come to my church this evening, you can hear me tell everyone how to get to heaven.”
“I don’t know, sir,” the boy replied. “You don’t even know how to get to the post office!”
There was a time when the church pictured God as an angry God who was watching over us and anxiously waiting for us to make a mistake so that he could punish us with eternal suffering in hell. The church taught people to fear God in the worst sense of the word, and the church used that fear to control the people, to get them to submit to church leaders and obey all of the teachings and rules of the church. The church used that fear to obtain wealth and power for the Pope in Rome and for the Roman Catholic Church. For example, by the 16th century the Roman Catholic Church became wealthy from the indulgences or fees that worshippers had to pay to free the souls of their loved ones who were in purgatory, which was the place between heaven and hell where the faithful were being cleaned up for heaven. There were at least seven sacraments that were prescribed by man.
The situation in the church was similar to the Parable of the Wicked Tenants in Matthew 21:33-42. Reformers agreed with the parable’s idea that because the Israelites had abused their tenancy as God’s people, God would lease his church to another people-the (new) Christian church. They also argued that because the (new) Christian church had abused its tenancy, God would replace it with the Reformed Church.
Over many years the church and its practices were reformed, but the process was not easy. One key event that helped the process was the invention of the printing press. That made the publication and distribution of Bibles easier. The Reformation was also helped by efforts to translate the Bible from Latin into the languages of the common people in Europe, specifically the efforts of John Wycliffe and William Tyndale to translate the Bible into English, and Martin Luther to translate the Bible into German. That made it possible for more people to read the Bible and discover the truth of God’s word for themselves.
Even today, the Roman Catholic Church is largely authoritarian in nature even though changes were made in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council-changes that included allowing services to be conducted in the language of the common people. In addition, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormon Church and other fundamentalist denominations such as the Salvation Army, the Pentecostal Church and some Baptist churches are still thriving today, and individual preachers can be authoritarian.Luther and other reformers understood that Biblical theology can only be done on the basis of a detailed and comprehensive study of all the relevant material, and not by blindly accepting a minister’s word as law. They struggled to accept the church’s teachings. In fact, it is largely due to Luther’s struggle to reconcile his faith with church doctrine that the Protestant Reformation was successful. Luther and other Reformers such as John Knox discovered that the only sacraments that were necessary were those that were explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures; namely, baptism and Holy Communion. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther had had enough of the corruption and false teachings that were coming out of Rome. He nailed his 95 theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany-thereby opening the floodgates to the Reformation.
Dost ask who that might be? Christ Jesus it is He
Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same
And He must win the battle