The Reformation Rescued the Gospel

R.C. Sproul | January 23, 2017

In the old city of Geneva, Switzerland, there’s a lovely park adjacent to the University of Geneva, close to the church where John Calvin preached and taught daily. The park contains a lasting memorial to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. The central feature is a magnificent wall adorned with statues of Calvin, John Knox, Huldrych Zwingli, Theodore Beza, and others. Chiseled into the stone are the Latin words Post tenebras lux (“After darkness, light”).

These words capture the driving force of the Reformation. The darkness referred to is the gospel’s eclipse in the late Middle Ages. A gradual darkening reached its nadir, and the light of the doctrine of justification by faith alone was all but extinguished.

Fuel for Fire

The Reformation firestorm was fueled by the most volatile issue ever debated in church history. The church had faced severe crises in the past, especially in the fourth and fifth centuries when the nature of Christ was at stake. The Arian heresy of the fourth century culminated in the Council of Nicea and the Nicene Creed. The fifth century witnessed the church’s struggle against the monophysite and Nestorian heresies that resulted in the Council of Chalcedon’s clear declaration of the humanity and deity…

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