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Why the Reformation Matters

One of four round churches in the UK that is now a museum in Cambridge.

In the fall of 2015 I was studying abroad in Cardiff, Wales. One of my major assignments was to create a television documentary, and I saw this as an opportunity to travel further throughout the UK.

It was a picturesque fall day when I meandered through Cambridge, England. I was there for a one-day solo exploration before an interview that I had arranged the following day. The historic city filled with old churches, cobble stone streets, and of course the renowned Cambridge University is nestled along the River Cam, about 200 kilometres north of London.

Towards the end of my tour, I stumbled across a round church museum. I had never seen a building like it before so I wandered inside, paid my admission, and quickly discovered it was one of just four round medieval churches in the country. Exhibits inside the building were nothing special but contained content that intrigued me the more that I lingered.

The city had been the breeding ground for revolutionary philanthropists like Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin. Among these Cambridge graduates, only Newton professed faith in Jesus Christ. Both Hawking and Darwin are credited with helping define what we know as atheism and the Big Bang theory.

These counter-Bible claims have tarnished the Christian reputation of Cambridge. Yet, as I discovered during my time at this museum, historically Cambridge has had an even greater impact on exalting the Christian faith.

It was in Cambridge where Erasmus translated the New Testament from Latin back to its original Greek. In doing this, the Dutch professor, and former Catholic Priest recovered the true meaning of the Scriptures that had been buried for the past 1500 years.

His contributions have enabled us to understand more clearly that it is by Scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, by Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone that we are saved. These truths which Martin Luther had penned as the epitome of his Ninety-Five Theses redirected us to God in a more appropriate way. Erasmus' contributions made it so that not only scholars like him and Luther could understand this newfound communion with God.

As I neared the last exhibit of the museum I got into a conversation with a male staff member. I had a number of questions that I wanted to resolve before leaving. He helped flush out the life that Erasmus lived in Cambridge, and shared that since I was so interested in Erasmus, I could walk down the street to see the exact room where the Dutch professor translated the New Testament.

I followed his directions precisely and stopped on this bridge. I gazed directly to the second floor building where Erasmus' study was. It was an awestruck moment.

History came alive. My faith came alive.

I could see the very room that a man, many years ago, made it possible for me to better understand and know God due to his diligent work translating the New Testament back to its original language.

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I challenge you not to view this event as the beginning of division between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, but rather as the beginning of personal discovery.

Prior to the Reformation, knowledge was retained by the elite. Erasmus' bold translation of the New Testament disrupted what the Catholic Church had preserved for so many years.

Later a young man named William Tyndale would follow Erasmus to Cambridge to study under him. The Dutch professor inspired Tyndale to pursue truth in the Holy Scriptures, but Tyndale's mission took a slightly different form. He took the new found truths from the Greek New Testament and translated them to English.

The Reformation created an access point for a person's faith that didn't exist before. It shouldn't cease to amaze us that it started with God.

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