Word Wednesday: “Reformation”

Luther95Theses-1To start this month of October – the month in which we commemorate the great work of God in the 16th century in reforming His church according to His Word – we take as our feature word this Wednesday, “reformation”. And for our definition we turn to the grand old dictionary used for reference in our Seminary library – Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (2nd ed., unabridged; G.&C.Merriam Company, 1947). Here is the rather lengthy entry under “reformation”:

1. Act of reforming, or state of being reformed; specif.; a. Obs. Re-establishment (of peace). b Improvement in form or character; change from worse to better; correction or amendment, as by removal of faults or errors, introduction of better methods, or the like; as, the ‘reformation’ of manners; ‘reformation’ of the age; ‘reformation’ of abuses. ‘Satire lashes vice into ‘reformation.’ Dryden….

2. [cap.] Specif., in Eccl.Hist., the important religious movement in western Christendom beginning early in the 16th century. which resulted in the formation of the various Protestant churches. The movement in its inception was moral and religious, arising out of Luther’s rediscovery of the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith rather than by works of the law (which shows that the Reformation was also at its core, doctrinal – cjt). Hence Luther attacked the indulgence traffic based on the assumption that man can by good works earn superfluous merit, which may be transferred to others. The attack on indulgences enlisted the sympathy of the nationalists, like Ulrich von Hutton, who had long objected to the financial extortion of the papacy. The appeal to Paul and the Bible won the favor of the humanists, like Erasmus, who were engaged in the discovery and dissemination of the sources of Christian antiquity. The movement once begun and definitely repudiated by the Pope, went on to reject flatly the doctrine of transubstatiation, the veneration of the Virgin and the saints, and the practice of clerical celibacy. The Reformation soon hardened, and lost the support largely of the humanists and altogether of the peasants. Opposing sects speedily appeared, intolerant not only of the Church of Rome, but of each other. The outstanding leaders were Luther and Melancthon in Germany, Zwingli in German Switzerland, Calvin and Beza in France and French Switzerland, Knox in Scotland, Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer in England. The movement won many individual adherents, but did not take deep root in Italty and Spain.

The Latin root is reformatio, which in turn comes from two words ‘re’ and ‘form’, meaning simply, ‘to form again’ or ‘form anew”. And that’s exactly what the Reformers did when Rome refused to forsake her errors (doctrinal and practical); they re-formed the church according to the principles of the Word of God, restoring her to pure doctrine and right practice.

The reformation of the church must always be taking place, because we must ever be sure we are taking our stand solely on the Word of God and not on the traditions of men. We must be, as we are accustomed to hearing, “reformed and always reforming”. That is, we must always be forming ourselves and our churches anew according to the truth of the Word of God. May we show ourselves to be true children of the Reformation – this month – and every month.


The Government “Shutdown”, a “Closed” Library Of Congress and Cataloging Hardships

IMLS, NARA, and Library Of Congress Closed During Government Shutdown.

LibraryofCongress-1Yes, it is true. I must report that the government shutdown has not only affected the large and prestigious Library of Congress, forcing its closure yesterday (and looks like today again), but it has also affected the small and lowly PRC Seminary. Yesterday afternoon while attempting to catalog a few new books that had come in, I experienced firsthand some difficulties tied to the “shutdown”. The library cataloging program I use allows me to type in the ISBN number and then it searches a number of previously chosen libraries for their cataloging information. This saves me a lot of typing and lets me see how others have cataloged the book before I determine where it best fits in our theological library.

Well, one of the main libraries I have selected to be searched is the Library of Congress, since theirs is the cataloging system we follow. No sooner had I hit the “search” button for my first book and I received notice that the “LOC” could not be searched. And it continued, since so many other libraries depend on this one. Dallas Seminary could not be searched. Columbia University (New York) could not be searched. In fact, of the libraries I had chosen only Amazon consistently gave me at least some of the book information (It does not provide cataloging info).

So, there you have it. Even your Seminary librarian suffers from cataloging hardships due to the fact that our government cannot stand to be told it may not have its way with our money. But, never fear – our library will remain open for business and we will press on – even with cataloging. It will go slower for now, but that’s ok. It forces me to do the “hard” work of finding out where a book should best go on my own. Of course, I have lots of other books to compare the new one with 🙂

Here’s the news item as Library Journal reported it yesterday:

After late night wrangling failed to produce a short term spending bill that could pass both the Senate and House of Representatives, the U.S. federal government has shut down for the first time in nearly two decades. As of this morning, federal agencies that support the mission of libraries around the country — from the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences to the Library of Congress have found themselves forced to close their doors and furlough the majority of their staffers.

Today, the Library of Congress and and all of its online resources are unavailable, including the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which provides reading assistance for library patrons across the country who can’t read or otherwise access traditional printed material. The homepage reads:

Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, the Library of Congress is closed to the public and researchers beginning October 1, 2013 until further notice.All public events are cancelled and web sites are inaccessible except the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and beta.congress.gov.