Protestant Reform changed the world in so many aspects, whether social
and of our daily life that it is sometimes not easy to identify them, in
the aspects as well as in the people who were transformed by the
original Gospel, which were prominent in society, to which they
influenced through greatness. We will try to make a short list of the
influence of the Reform that changed the world.
education to culture, since reading was possible in their mother tong,
from the Bible, to politics –by
providing democracy– or the division
of powers, the autonomous and liberal work that today produces those
“start up”, to music, art, architecture, and of course science
or medicine, nursery or the Red Cross, the list continues.
Reform started as a movement inside Christianity to denounce the
deviation of the Vatican and its doctrines of selling indulgencies, by
the laying to believers to whom they would sell salvation for money, and
to denounce the power and way of life of the curia. Luther in the XVI
century and other prominent theologians like Calvin, placed the
foundations of what would become, as well as in the Reform
–from the theological point of view–
to a total change of life, in all the fields of the human being. It
would refer to a permanent attitude, a permanent will to remain in the
Way of the Truth, from the Spirit of the Bible. Jesus sais “I am the
Way, and the Truth, and the Life…” John 14:6.
THE WORLD SINCE
spiritual and doctrinal aspects were already discussed in other studies
of The Reform
of the faith and of grace, from which emanate the five pillars or “Solas”:
Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of
God alone, and the current situation under the
great legacy in the cultural field has been, and is, the "free inquiry",
together with the educational of universities for the secular world. The
invention of the printer of Gutenberg coincides –as Heaven sent– with
the translation of the Bible to German by Martin Luther, being the first
book printed –the famous Bible of Gutenberg. Following would be Reina
and Valera to Spanish and William Tyndale to English. What is not so
known is that these translations helped to give order to those languages
and the grammar of these vernacular tongs, to say it somehow, to give an
order to the languages. All, fruit from the protestant interest to
glorify God in the tong of the people. Later, the Bible in French. All
reformed cultures would abandon Latin, giving all their citizens
knowledge of the Bible.
Protestant art has given us famous artists such as Hals, Vermeer or
Rembrandt, and some of his works like “The Return of the Prodigal
Son” or "The Storm of the Sea of Galilee". It basically was focuses in
being against catholic art. The matter is greatly relevant, for the
catholic did not know the Bible because it was prohibited by their
church, while the protestant is of daily Bible. The catholic only had
biblical story in paintings, in many cases converted in idolatry. The
Reform changed many artists whom ever since would not create for the
Catholic Church, but to show the message of the in a more
tactful way, without converting it in warship objects.
architecture produced by the Reform was a turn to simplicity in lines in
the religious filed, not using sculptures –the
religious image– but
still making grater the architectonic work for the glory of God.
Simplicity and efficiency of design ruled over heavy ornamentation.
Nowadays we see cathedrals, skyscrapers and public buildings, but also
urbanizations where modern influence is seen, specially in those
countries with a reformed culture.
Industry counts with great achievements since industrial revolution. The
Calvinistic Swiss are famous for their watches, the best in the world,
always at the vanguard of technology, with brands like Omega or Rolex.
German Lutherans for their technology and automobile, with brands like
Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche that have achieved world primacy. But also
in robotics and pharmaceutical together with the US are ahead. Avionics
and astronautics also initiate their achievements in a protestant
background to our days: Boeing or NASA.
from Protestantism has provided some of the best great genius composers
of classic music. Johan Sebastian Bach composed about 300 cantatas and
hymns, the Passion of Christ for the Lutheran church, in his effort to
give God the glory, on the base of the Gospel according to S. Matthew.
The Messiah of Haendel and the famous HalleluJah, would be fruit of his
experience as organist of the Calvinist cathedral of his birth town,
Halle, since he was 17 years old. Further gospel music would
revolutionize Baptist churches and all the world. Hymns like Amazing
Grace, Happy Day, in Christ Alone and singers like Aretha Franklin and
Louise Armstrong remain in use today.
Philosophy, as Alfonso Ropero would say in his work "Introduction to
Philosophy" after the Bible to French –a
century later– and "Discourse of the
Method" of Descartes, to leave the "official" tong of philosophy, the
wise tong – Latin– of the catholic liturgy to move on to the tong of the
people. Descartes and his "doubt" took down all knowledge, and following
his conscience and the spirit of the Reform joins them to affirm that
Popes and councils fall in error, reason for Rousseau to declare: I take
Scripture and reason as the only rules of my faith. Francis Bacon
searched the philosophy of nature, because it shows the glory of God,
and helps us to know Scripture (The Advance of Learning 1,16). "I think,
therefore I am" said Descartes in his battle to know for himself.
Reformist philosophy counts with relevant philosophers like Wycliffe,
Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Karlstadt or Muntzer. Then, the list
of philosophers that did not link to the religious office, but knew and
were influenced by Scripture is long. Hume, Locke, Leibniz, Voltaire,
Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard.
In the political field: Democracy. Division
of powers, the Baron of Montesquieu and his proposal to divide
government into three powers, knower that power corrupts, and made his
proposal half a century before the French Revolution: legislative,
executive and judgmental, to avoid manipulation, or at least to limit
it, because man tends to evil, as history proves since Adam. Since the
Reform social battle has transformed societies of those protestant
countries who have been and are world leaders in wellbeing and freedom.
The constitution of the United States, for example emanates from the
first puritans, who based the document in the Gospel. To say it some
how, the countries that received the Reform took a great step as a
society, leaving behind those who remained under the catholic influence,
with no knowledge. Specially the US is the nation born from the
Protestant Reform. The rest were reformed from a previous state. The
same as Israel was created by God as elected people to show in it His
power, His discipline and punishment, but also His great love, being
that at the end of time 1948 they are returning to their home land,
according to prophecies; in the same way the US are a special nation to
God, who loves and punishes His Church. This does not mean that He does
not love the other nations and peoples, but countries of other faith
confessions have to change a lot for them to receive God's blessing as
they have, still today the firs world power. A nation, the US that was
built under the fear of God. That, even thought most of its society
shows the opposite to God, the bases are still reformed Christian and
the Gospel is still on national TV every day, and their missionaries all
around the world. The Bible influenced the ideas of the "Enlightment",
they have had special influence in some of the best constitutions of
countries such as the Unites States of America, or the Spanish
Constitution of Cadiz of 1812.
In the social field, the equality of the
woman. If we remember the beginning of Greek democracy, women had no
rights. In Israel and in the primitive Church and again in the reformed,
women gains her equality with man at social level. The movement of civil
rights in the US with reverend Luther King comes from the evangelical
movement, and its churches. The fight of
to eradicate slavery in the British parliament. By the way the famous
hymn Amazing Grace was
composed by John Newton, the best friend and counselor of William
Wilberforce. Labor situation was transformed by liberal capitalism, the
concept of profession of the reformed, to sever God and dignify man,
contradicts what we see today as a unmerciful consumerism, but today
anyone can become an autonomous worker and initiate a "star up" in the
western world of reformed social base.
Science of protestant influence counts with
some of the greatest scientist in history. From Boyle, as father of
modern chemistry in the XVII century. Medicine would be revolutionized
since van Leeuwenhoek, a Deutsch reformed would discover bacteria and
would create the microscope. Dalton and atomic theory in the XVIII
century, or the physics of the studies of Maxwell, of evangelical faith
who developed his treaty of electricity and magnetism. Isaac Newton,
both in physics as in mathematics, who is considered the most relevant
scientist in history after his law of gravitation, student of his
predecessors, Copernicus, Kepler and Galilei, and their theories about
heliocentric movement. Newton, also studied and wrote treaties about
Christian Theology. James Watt, a Presbyterian, is considered the father
of industrial revolution, for his creation of the steam machine in the
XIX century. Faraday, a fervent Christian, discovered electromagnetic
induction that opened the door to the use of electricity. Morse, a
Calvinist who created the code with his name and telegraph. Plank,
another Lutheran opposed to Nazis, developed the origin of the quantum
theory a bit more than a century ago. Nursery would also be transformed
by the evangelical Florence Nightingale, or medical assistance with the
creation of the Red Cross by J.H. Dunant. Or Aldrin, the astronaut, who
took Holy Supper on the moon.
The Reform has left us "free inquiry",
scientific revolution, financial prosperity, social wellbeing and
returned to us the knowledge of the way to a personal relationship with
God, with the Creator, our Father, in Jesus Christ - Yahshua through His
Spirit, to our mind and to our heart. The Reform is like a system to
correct direction, using the parameters of the Bible. But one can only
receive them for himself, cannot impose them to the world, but can
persuade the neighbor with the knowledge and let everyone open their
door to Jesus.
We have started in time of the beginning of
the Reform, in the XVI century, but we finish with our days in the XXI
century. That movement that was the beginning of an entire
transformation of western society and that would expand to all the globe
as if it were following the mandate of Jesus of the "Great Commission",
is as alive a humanity and its part of it in all levels, because is is
pure Gospel, the first message, the return to the Words of Jesus.
We conclude then that history, from the
Reform, has been influenced by this religious, spiritual, social and
cultural movement, to integrate and be the base of other movements such
as science, medicine, politics or art and music. From the Reform that
Luther initiates and that dismounts the scholastic dictatorship, to
Renaissance, the exit from medieval darkness to a new light, that united
mystic, reason and science from the Biblical principia of John Wycliffe.
Erasmus and Christian humanism to "free
inquiry". From here to Calvin, who builds the architecture and makes the
concept reformed known. The Cartesian world of Descartes initiates
modern philosophy. Pascal, from faith joins science and mystic. John
Locke exposes the rationality of Christianity, and since the social
change will never stop, plus Illustration begins. The period of
criticism begins with Kant and ecclesial faith versus spiritual faith.
Hegel reflects about life; and free inquiry continues to permeate it
all, even art, that no longer serves religion alone, as does not dot
Materialism arrives and the religion of
humanity. Marx appears and industrial revolution; humanism in its
zenith, but Kierkegaard proves the prevalence of the Gospel. Nietzsche
seeks his own moral in his atheism, but Ortega y Gasset gives a reason
to nature, spirit and life.
Finally we arrive to present Relativism and
Communism when the world seems to have lost sense, but where those who
seek still find the Way, like Karl Barth shows exposing Grace, and
Christ as the human model, or Alvin Plantinga exposing the validity of
the reformed epistemology in our days, in the XXI century.
From the faulty Greek democracy, and from
the erred roman republic, the world has suffered many changes. Since
Jesus came in His first time, the world received the Light. After the
first three centuries A.D. the world started to enter into darkness
until the middle age. But Reform came and started to return to the Light
of Jesus. The world has gone under two world wars, a period that we
could compare to the middle age wars, but after both periods we have
been offered a moment for reflection and to correct direction.
A legacy from the base of the Reform has
left some examples that even with its big defects due to the deviation
of man without God, give us a fine tune to what man with God can do. A
nation, the US created by reformed Christians in base of the Bible, and
which legacy is the Constitution signed by the founding fathers, based
in the Bible.
A philosophy, the one of the citizen who
can read any book in his tong, whether the Bible, or books of science
and cultures to form his thinking. A culture, the international that
lives with everyone, but that maintains its bases on the Bible. A
society, the democratic, although imperfect, the one that provides man
the most freedom. A living faith; the living Christ. A life for God, for
the family, for the Church, for the neighbor, and to be a son of God, a
good disciple. The Reform changes us upside down by the Holy Spirit
while we await the perfect, a new state of things that will bring the
King of kings, the Son of God, Jesus Christ in His second coming to
establish the Kingdom of God.
Have you reformed yourself already? Let the
Holy Spirit be who will reform you; tell Him now, He is faithful and
loves you. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6. Amen.