Refo500

Planning is under way for the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. I have my doubts about 1517 as the best date to remember (but apparently Protestants were talking about 1517 as the beginning of the Reformation in the 17th century). Recently there was a planning meeting in Atlanta. Our own Bob Godfrey was there representing Westminster Seminary California:

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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13 comments

  1. “I have my doubts about 1517 as the best date to remember.”

    Might you elaborate?

    • Hi Phil,

      1517 is a misleading date. Luther had made significant progress toward a Protestant position by then but the 95 Theses are not particularly Protestant in character. Luther later regarded himself, looking back to 1517, as a “right roaring papist.”

      We ought to be celebrating 1521 since by then not only have we the decisive Diet of Worms (with or without “Here I stand, I can do no other,” but sola Scriptura and the rest of the Protestant distinctives (e.g., a clear articulation of the law/gospel distinction, sola fide, imputation etc).

      Luther was very much in flux in ’17.

      See this essay:

      http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/2032

    • I know some of the figures but I don’t know them all and since I don’t have time to find out all the names and I thought it would be invidious to name some and not others I left the names out.

  2. I hope they aren’t serious about calling it “Refo500” Is that pronounced REE-fo or Ref-o? Maybe it depends what part of the country you’re from.

    • It’s better than Reefer500 which would be an entirely different event! Maybe we should schedule a stock car race to go with it? I have a vision of Bob Godfrey, Lig Duncan, and Mike Horton with their helmets on racing around the oval at breakneck speeds. We could get a counter-Reformation guy like Scott Hahn to drive the “Ignatius Special.”

      • Yes, the original name is definitely better! I like the stock car race idea though. Just make sure there are no FV guys in the pit crew, they’ll slow everything down.

  3. What about 1518 and the “Heidelberg Disputation”, just a few months are the “Theses”? It seems Luther was “Protestant” enough by then for us to constantly make reference (and rightly so!) to the distinction between theologia crucis & gloriae…

    Only an American can complain about the pronounciation of a name like “Refo500″…! Actually, it doesn’t depend “on what part of the country you’re from”. Actually, there ARE other countries besides the U.S. And that’s where REFO (as in REFO-rmation… hint, hint…), both in its 16th form and in its 21st century celebratory form was started.

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