教會歷史探索團：Grace Lee 團友分享
Memoirs of Church History Study Tour – April 18-30, 2017
I thank God for the opportunity of joining the Church History Study Tour concurrent with the Reformation’s 500 year commemoration. The study tour has a lot to cover in such a short span of time. Thus, the activities for each day as per schedule were hectic and tight.
Nevertheless, the fatigue and exhaustion did not dampened my spirit and quest to learn, to pursue some insights about the Protestant Reformation, initiated by reformers like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin in their respective country in the 16th century. We owe these reformers a debt of gratitude for their conviction and vision to purify the church and a belief that the Bible or Scripture, not tradition, should be the sole source of spiritual authority.
The churches that we have visited as related to the reformation era were tangible facts that withstood the test of time across the centuries.
I would like to share some thoughts about a few captivating picture, sculpture and the like that caught my attention during this trip. I appreciated the arts and paintings by great renowned artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, et al during the Renaissance period. The ideas and inspirations imparted through their art works were beyond description.
Here are a few of my musing as I see them :
- The picture hanging in Lutherhaus Museum depicting Martin Luther defending his position before the council. He refused to recant nor bow down to the pressure and authority of his day. He bravely faced the scrutiny and the fury of the Pope to the point that he was branded a radical and excommunicated by the Catholic church. Martin Luther’s notable words before the council: “Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen”
- The Wittenberg Castle Church
This is where Martin Luther defiantly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church. He vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling “reprieves from penance” or indulgences. It was also in this church where he was laid to rest. While here at the Wittenberg Church, I intently looked at these doors as it now became a mute testament for centuries where a man took courage to exposed the corrupt practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
- The Martin Luther Shoes in the Lutheran Garden
It was exhilarating to step into this shoes!
The hand crafted shoes symbolizing his famous quote;
"Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other. Help Me God. Amen."
He stood his ground!
- The Reformation Wall in Geneva
The wall was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. Geneva is of integral importance to the Reformation, the centre of Calvinism. Its history and heritage has been closely linked to that of Protestantism. Its motto: "After Darkness. Light."
- The Church of St. Paul at the Three Fountains
This church was dedicated to St. Paul, the great apostle, who was decapitated at the presumed site of his Martyrdom in Rome. A portion of the road where he trekked was secured by chain. As Rev. Johann Lai recalled Paul’s sufferings for Christ according to the New Testament, I was engulfed with emotion.
Thinking to myself, “What was in his mind as he was being led to the inevitable?” For sure, he was fearless.
In his own words in Philippians 1:21 “ For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He knew his mission on earth has ended, the beginning of a greater life with Christ is just about to unfold. In heaven someday, if I’d be permitted to do one thing, I will honor them with a salute for the faith legacy they handed down from generations. St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and great many others for they have won victory for Jesus. Like the Apostle Paul, they have all pressed onward for the prize before them that our Lord Jesus will personally confer.