The Real Engine Room of the Reformation

Michael Reeves | October 26, 2017


Editors’ note: This article originally appeared in the 9Marks Journal. For a concise introduction to the Reformation, please see Michael Reeves’s book Freedom Movement: 500 Years of Reformation (10Publishing). 


Almost certainly, the most striking practical change at the time of the Reformation was the rise of expository preaching in local churches.

In the centuries preceding the Reformation, preaching had been in steady decline. Eclipsed by the Mass and rendered non-essential by the theology of medieval Roman Catholicism, preaching had lost the primacy it once enjoyed in the days of the early post-apostolic church.

By the 15th century, only a small percentage of people could expect to hear their priest preach to them regularly in their local parish church. The English reformer Hugh Latimer spoke of “strawberry parsons” who, like strawberries, appeared but once a year. Even then, the homily would often be in Latin, unintelligible to the people (and, perhaps, to the priest).

The most striking practical change at the time of the Reformation was the rise of expository preaching in local churches.

As for the content of these rare delicacies, they were unlikely to go anywhere near Scripture. The vast majority of the clergy simply didn’t have the…


To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/real-engine-room-of-reformation.