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It seems that the current Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev Dr Derek Browning, has little knowledge of what happened on 31 October 1517.


If he did he certainly would not have met the Pope of Rome to pay him the heretical homage that he showed at the Vatican two weeks ago.


Undoubtedly, Dr Browning needs a history lesson on the Reformation. Little does he appreciate that 500 years ago, on this date, Martin Luther – an obscure German monk - nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.


Luther’s main concern was the corruption in the practice of selling indulgences, defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as 'a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.' Indulgences were being sold to reduce (or in some case eliminate) the time that departed souls would have to spend in purgatory, a place where the departed would go to expiate their sins before admission to heaven. The abuse of this practice at the time incensed the great reformer.


Luther outflanked the power of the Roman Church hierarchy with a new communications technology, the printing press, that allowed him to speak directly to the people. When he was finally dragged before 'the assembled majesty' of church and empire in 1521 and ordered to renounce his errors, he refused, insisting that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, a higher authority than any pope, bishop or king.


This action triggered the great Protestant Reformation, as his Ninety-five Theses were immediately translated and distributed across Germany in a matter of weeks. The world was never to be the same again. It was radically changed, and for the better. The Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification - that is, salvation by grace alone (Gal. 2:21) through faith alone in Christ alone.


It was also a protest, against the corruption practices of the Roman Catholic church.


The growing Reformation movement spread like wildfire not only across Germany but also across the whole of Europe. Within five years the first Lutheran martyrs were burned at the stake in Brussels. In the same year (1523) a Frenchman M. de la Tour brought Luther’s teachings to Scotland. Charged with this, he was executed in Paris in 1527, ten years after Luther’s Theses. The following year Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake in St Andrews. Many other Scottish martyrs laid down their lives for their loyalty to Christ and His Gospel.


When another Reformation is desperately needed in Scotland today, I hardly think the Church of Scotland Moderator went to the Vatican to ask the Pope of Rome to bring it about. In the light of the ultimate sacrifice that many gave to make the truth of the gospel known across Scotland, some 500 years ago, this is one place he should have avoided at all costs.


Whatever ‘trick or treat’ issues were discussed behind their respective ‘religious’ masks and garbs neither has any appreciation whatsoever that 31 October 1517 was a glorious 'Halloween day' that changed Scotland’s destiny.


While the man in the floor-hugging white gown, still seething with rage, wished the Reformation had never happened, the other man from Scotland is clueless over why our nation desperately needs another such Reformation, and quickly at that.


Donald J Morrison

85 Old Edinburgh Road




Letter:  Another Reformation “desperately needed” in Scotland

21 November 2017