Dr. Alan Strange will be speaking as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg.
We hope you can join us!
IMPORTANT: We ask that you let us know if you are coming so that we may plan our refreshments. Please contact us by phone (207) 637-2061 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by September 19th. There is no cost to the conference, though we will take an offering during the second session on Saturday.
The Thirteenth Annual Maine Conference on Reformed Theology
The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
With Dr. Alan Strange
September 22-24, 2017
Limington Orthodox Presbyterian Church
302 Sokokis Avenue
Please join us for the 13th Annual Maine Conference on Reformed Theology with Dr. Alan Strange as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, tracing it back to that day when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. We encourage you to come out to hear this servant of God bring the truths of God’s word to the blessing of our hearts and souls and for the glory of Christ our Savior!
We welcome back Rev. Alan Strange who has spoken at our conference twice before. He returns this year to speak on the Reformation of the church of God and its effect on the church since 1517. Dr. Strange is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is the Professor of Church History at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. He earned his M. Div. degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1989 and his Ph.D. at the University of Wales in 2014. He has published many articles for the Mid-America Journal of Theology as well as for the OPC denominational magazine New Horizons. He has been married to Kathryn Ruth Bacon for 20 years and they have 5 children.
We ask that you let us know if you are coming so that we may plan our refreshments. Please contact us by phone (207) 637-2061 or email email@example.com by September 19th. There is no cost to the conference, though we will take an offering during the second session on Saturday.
Friday 7:00 pm: Luther and other Reformers – What’s all the fuss in Europe about?
Saturday 9:00 am: The Reformation in America – Before the Civil War
Saturday 10:30 am: The Reformation in America – After the Civil War
Sunday 9:30 am: Morning Worship – Dr. Strange will be preaching at our morning worship service
Sunday 11:00 am: Sunday School: Question and Answer time with Dr. Strange
Sunday 6:00 pm: Evening Worship – Dr. Strange will be preaching at Second Parish in Portland
Reformation Clarity on
the Church and State Question
While the Reformation was about far more than ecclesiology, having a particular concern about soteriology—especially the doctrine of justification by faith alone—ecclesiological issues were significant. Prominent among the ecclesiological issues was the question of the distinctness of the church and state and the relative authority of each with respect to the other. Not only did the Reformers seek to throw off the usurpation of the bishop of Rome over the whole church, but those rulers who supported the Reformation also sought to resist the tyranny of the one that many of them contemptuously dismissed as a mere “Italian prince.” In this process of rejecting the claim of the papacy in Unam Sanctam, that the church’s sword is to be exercised under the authority and at the direction of St. Peter’s keys, many Reformed princes went the opposite direction and embraced what ultimately came to be some form of Erastianism, in which the state is over the church.
This reversal witnessed in the Reformation was promoted by a number of things, including the 1555 Peace of Augsburg in which Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism was established in a territory, depending on the religion of the ruler of that territory, the principle of cuius regio eius religio (a privilege not formally extended to Calvinism in the Holy Roman Empire until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years’ War). One of the practical effects in Protestant lands of the state assuming power over the church was that the power of excommunication was taken out of the hands of the clergy and placed in the hands of civil governors. Calvin experienced this in Geneva in 1538 when he vainly sought to keep those whom he judged unworthy from the Lord’s table, only to be overruled by Geneva’s civil rulers. Though brought back from his three-year exile and ultimately granted some of the ecclesiastical modifications that he sought, Calvin continued to battle with the Genevan town officials who continually intermeddled with ecclesiastical affairs.
It is perhaps understandable why the Genevan officials, and those in a host of other towns, cantons, provinces, etc. of the Reformation, did not trust the clergy with the power of excommunication and other forms of church discipline. Church discipline had previously been so misused, being heavily politicized. Even in the ancient church,
Athanasius’s Arian opponents (many in the imperial courts) and Chrysostom’s local and Alexandrian opponents shamefully abused church discipline to persecute these godly men. In the Middle Ages, many became quite cynical about the papal abuse of church discipline, recognizing that the pope often used discipline, even interdict (ecclesiastical censure of an entire region), to punish his opponents. Many Reformational rulers apparently thought that something as important as church discipline, especially such a heavily politicized use of church discipline, could scarcely be left to the clergy but ought to be in the hands of the civil governors. Thus many Reformed princes went in the opposite direction from Rome: they did not argue that the church is over the state; rather, contra Rome, they adopted the old Caesaropapism—the state is over the church.
Calvin, in his insistence on the right of the consistory to admit to the Lord’s table, obviously saw the church as distinct from the state, though their precise relationship in his thought remains somewhat unclear. He affirmed that there were two kingdoms, but what he means by this is arguable. Luther in theory affirmed a clear two-kingdom model but in practice not only allowed the prince in an emergency situation to reform the church (as in his Address to the German Nobility) but also gave the state ultimately more authority over the church than his theory would ever warrant, perhaps because he feared further peasant revolt and anarchy and figured a strong state to be a small price to pay for peace and security.
Luther, in his affirmation of all Christians having a vocation, and in his always speaking of Christians living vigorously as Christians in the temporal kingdom, may escape some of the charges of dualism brought against his position (as is also brought against Aquinas’s upper/lower-grace/nature paradigm, though Luther’s position was two kingdoms side-by-side, both under God). Calvin, as noted above, along with Luther, distinguished civil and spiritual government (Institutes 3.19.15; 4.20). Such kingdom distinction, then, was not their chief difference with respect to this question; rather, the real difference between Luther and Calvin lay in Luther’s subordination of the kingly office of Christ to his priestly office and the effect that had on Luther’s view of church and state (By Dr. Alan Strange – Taken from Ordained Servant article: Church and State in Historical Perspective).
Limington Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Pastor: D. Leonard Gulstrom
Motels in the Area:
Midway Motel Cornish (207) 625-8835
Cornish Inn Cornish (207) 625-8501