Introducing the 2015 “Standard Bearer” Reformation Issue

RefDay-post-tenebras-luxOn this Reformation Day 2015 we may call your attention to the annual special Reformation issue of The Standard Bearer, just out and coming to your mailbox or digital device (ours came in the mail yesterday).

The November 1, 2015 issue focuses on the pre-Reformers God raised up to bring light in dark times and prepare the stage of the church and world for the full reform of His church. You may remember that one of the mottos by which the Reformation era is known is the Latin expression post tenebras lux – after darkness, light. With that in mind the editors decided to give this special issue the theme “Pre-Reformation Light in the Dark Ages.”

Prof.R. Dykstra (one of the editors) provides this brief summary of what the issue is about:

What comes to mind with the term “Middle Ages”? Perhaps dark and dreary lives. Perhaps castles and knights. Perhaps crusades.

For church history, what may come to mind is a seemingly endless parade of corrupt popes. Surely all Reformed readers think of the apostasy and corruption in the church that required the most significant Reformation the church has ever had –1517, and Martin Luther. There is, however, more to the Middle Ages than immediately meets the eye.
The goal of this special issue is to introduce some key church figures of the Middle Ages. Though the age was indeed one of astounding ignorance, wickedness, and apostasy, God preserved His church, and God preserved the church’s foundation, that is, His truth, as it centers in Jesus Christ. This issue will bring to light some of the men and movements that God used for His sovereign purposes to that end. Most readers are aware of the noteworthy pre-reformers – Wycliffe and Hus. We invite you to learn about a few others.

Be instructed, be encouraged, and give thanks for the evidence that the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world gathers, defends, and preserves His church, and that He did so also in the Middle Ages.

Below is the cover of this special issue, with the table of contents. You will find a fascinating collection of articles inside the magazine.

SB-Reform-Nov-2015To receive a copy and/or subscribe to the “SB”, visit the home page.

Prayers of the Reformers (8) – J. Calvin on Worship

JCalvinPic1The following prayer of John Calvin for purity of worship is found in the profitable collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958 (p.60).

This too is fitting as we end the Lord’s Day in God’s house of worship.

Grant, almighty God, inasmuch as Thou hast deigned to gather us into Thy church, that we may never turn aside in the least from the purity of Thy worship. May we always regard what pleases Thee, and learn to direct our doings and our thoughts in obedience to Thy truth, and worship Thee purely both in spirit and in external forms that Thy name may be glorified.

May we retain that purity which Thou commendest to us, that we may be indeed members of Thy only-begotten Son.  As Thy Son has sanctified Himself on our account, grant that we may also through His Spirit be made partakers of the same, until He at length will gather us into His heavenly kingdom, which He has obtained for us by His own blood. Amen.

Guido de Bres’ Love Letter to His Wife – April 1567

Guido deBresBy special request we start this Wednesday with the love letter Guido deBres, best known for his authorship of the Belgic Confession (1561) and subsequent martyrdom for the Reformed faith (1567).

The letter has been re-translated by Rev.Wes Bredenhof (source below – then see his note) and is reproduced here from the blog “Underdog Theology” (May 5, 2011). I hope it is a source of inspiration, peace, and comfort to you as it has been to many. Especially to us believing husbands and fathers.

The quotation below includes the two paragraph introduction from the writer of the “UT” blog.

Knowing of his impending martyrdom, de Brès wrote a letter to his wife that I can only describe as probably the best love letter that I’ve ever read: God-glorifying, God-dependent, full of faith and assurance, full of Scriptural truths, and expressing the kind of selfless love that a husband must have for his wife (in imitation of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church).

I was greatly moved by the part wherein de Brès makes his final exhortations to his wife concerning her own welfare and the welfare of their children, reminding her to continue in her godly routine and even giving her permission to remarry if she found herself lacking the means to support the family (although only to a godly man, of course).

Reproduced below is Guido de Brès’ letter to his wife, dated April 12, 1567. He was hung on May 31, 1567.

“The grace and mercy of our good God and heavenly Father, and the love of His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, be with you, my dearly beloved.

Catherine Ramon, my dear and beloved wife and sister in our Lord Jesus Christ: your anguish and sadness disturbs somewhat my joy and the happiness of my heart, so I am writing this for the consolation of both of us, and especially for your consolation, since you have always loved me with an ardent affection, and because it pleases the Lord to separate us from each other. I feel your sorrow over this separation more keenly than mine. I pray you not to be troubled too much over this, for fear of offending God. You knew when you married me that you were taking a mortal husband, who was uncertain of life, and yet it has pleased God to permit us to live together for seven years, giving us five children. If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he would have provided the way. But it did not please him to do this and may his will be done.

Now remember that I did not fall into the hands of my enemies by mere chance, but through the providence of my God who controls and governs all things, the least as well as the greatest. This is shown by the words of Christ, “Be not afraid. Your very hairs are numbered. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall to the ground without the will of your Father. Then fear nothing. You are more excellent than many sparrows.” These words of divine wisdom say that God knows the number of my hairs. How then can harm come to me without the command and providence of God? It could not happen, unless one should say that God is no longer God. This is why the Prophet says that there is no affliction in the city that the Lord has not willed.

Many saintly persons who were before us consoled themselves in their afflictions and tribulations with this doctrine. Joseph, having been sold by his brothers and taken into Egypt, says, “You did a wicked deed, but God has turned it to your good. God sent me into Egypt before you for your profit.” (Genesis 50). David also experienced this when Shimei cursed him. So too in the case of Job and many others.

And that is why the Evangelists write so carefully of the sufferings and of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, adding, “And this was done that that which was written of Him might be accomplished.” The same should be said of all the members of Christ.

It is very true that human reason rebels against this doctrine and resists it as much as possible and I have very strongly experienced this myself. When I was arrested, I would say to myself, “So many of us should not have traveled together. We were betrayed by this one or that one. We ought not to have been arrested.” With such thoughts I became overwhelmed, until my spirits were raised by meditation on the providence of God. Then my heart began to feel a great repose. I began then to say, “My God, you have caused me to be born in the time you have ordained. During all the time of my life you have kept me and preserved me from great dangers and you have delivered me from them all – and if at present my hour has come in which I will pass from this life to you, may your will be done. I cannot escape from your hands. And if I could, I would not, since it is happiness for me to conform to your will.” These thoughts made my heart cheerful again.

And I pray you, my dear and faithful companion, to join me in thanking God for what he has done. For he does nothing that is not just and very equitable, and you should believe that it is for my good and for my peace. You have seen and felt my labours, cross, persecutions, and afflictions which I have endured, and have even had a part in them when you accompanied me in my travels during the time of my exile. Now my God has extended his hand to receive me into his blessed kingdom. I shall see it before you and when it shall please the Lord, you will follow me. This separation is not for all time. The Lord will receive you also to join us together again in our head, Jesus Christ.

This is not the place of our habitation – that is in heaven. This is only the place of our journey. That is why we long for our true country, which is heaven. We desire to be received in the home of our Heavenly Father, to see our Brother, Head, and Saviour Jesus Christ, to see the noble company of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and many thousands of martyrs, into whose company I hope to be received when I have finished the course of my work which I received from my Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray you, my dearly beloved, to console yourself with meditation on these things. Consider the honour that God has done you, in giving you a husband who was not only a minister of the Son of God, but so esteemed of God that he allowed him to have the crown of martyrs. It is an honour the like of which God has never even given to the angels.

I am happy; my heart is light and it lacks nothing in my afflictions. I am so filled with the abundance of the richness of my God that I have enough for me and all those to whom I can speak. So I pray my God that he will continue his kindness to me, his prisoner. The One in whom I have trusted will do it, for I have found by experience that he will never leave those who have trusted in him. I would never have thought that God would have been so kind to such a poor creature as I. I feel the faithfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ.

I am practicing now what I have preached to others. And I must confess that when I preached I would speak about the things I am actually experiencing as a blind man speaks of colour. Since I was taken prisoner I have profited more and learned more than during all the rest of my life. I am in a very good school: the Holy Spirit inspires me continually and teaches me how to use the weapons in this combat. On the other side is Satan, the adversary of all children of God. He is like a boisterous, roaring lion. He constantly surrounds me and seeks to wound me. But he who has said, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world,” makes me victorious. And already I see that the Lord puts Satan under my feet and I feel the power of God perfected in my weakness.

Our Lord permits me on the one hand to feel my weakness and my smallness, that I am but a small vessel on the earth, very fragile, to the end that he would humble me, so that all the glory of the victory may be given to him. On the other hand, he fortifies me and consoles me in an unbelievable way. I have more comfort than the enemies of the gospel. I eat, drink and rest better than they do. I am held in a very strong prison, very bleak, obscure and dark. The prison is known by the obscure name “Brunain.” The air is poor and it stinks. On my feet and hands I have irons, big and heavy. They are a continual hell, hollowing my limbs up to my poor bones. The chief constable comes to look at my irons two or three times a day, fearing that I will escape. There are three guards of forty men before the door of the prison.

I have also the visits of Monsieur de Hamaide. He comes to see me, to console me, and to exhort me to patience, as he says. However, he comes after dinner, after he has wine in the head and a full stomach. You can imagine what these consolations are. He threatens me and says to me that if I would show any intention of escaping he would have me chained by the neck, the body and legs, so that I could not move a finger; and he says many other things in this order. But for all that, my God does not take away his promises, consoling my heart, giving me very much contentment.

Since such things have happened, my dear sister and faithful wife, I implore you to find comfort from the Lord in your afflictions and to place your troubles with him. He is the husband of believing widows and the father of poor orphans. He will never leave you – of that I can assure you. Conduct yourself as a Christian woman, faithful in the fear of God, as you always have been, honouring by your good life and conversation the doctrine of the Son of God, which your husband has preached.

As you have always loved me with great affection, I pray that you will continue this love toward our little children, instructing them in the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Be their father and their mother, and take care that they use honestly the little that God has given you. If God does you the favour to permit you to live in widowhood with our children after my death, that will be well. If you cannot, and the means are lacking, then go to some good man, faithful and fearing God. And when I can, I shall write to our friends to watch over you. I think that they will not let you want for anything. Take up your regular routine after the Lord has taken me. You have our daughter Sarah who will soon be grown. She will be your companion and help you in your troubles. She will console you in your tribulations and the Lord will always be with you. Greet our good friends in my name, and let them pray to God for me, that he may give me strength, speech, and the wisdom and ability to uphold the truth of the Son of God to the end and to the last breath of my life.

Farewell, Catherine, my dearly beloved. I pray my God that he will comfort you and give you contentment in his good will. I hope that God has given me the grace to write for your benefit, in such a way that you may be consoled in this poor world. Keep my letter for a remembrance of me. It is badly written, but it is what I am able to do, and not what I wish to do. Commend me to my good mother. I hope to write some consolation to her, if it pleases God. Greet also my good sister. May she take her affliction to God. Grace be with you.

At the prison, April 12, 1567.

Your faithful husband, Guy de Brès, minister of the Word of God at Valenciennes, and presently prisoner for the Son of God at the aforesaid place.”

Source: “A Reformation Martyr Comforts His Wife” by W.L. Bredenhof

*P.S. For a recent lecture on Guido de Bres by Rev.R.Kleyn (pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA), visit this page on the PRC website. Or on his own church’s Sermonaudio page.

Reformation Day 2014 – M.Luther Hymns

Luther95Theses-1In commemoration of Roman Catholic monk Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses (disputations) on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 – the event which triggered the Protestant Reformation – we post Luther’s simple message of the gospel as expressed in his first published hymn. And then, following that, we post a video of his great Reformation hymn, Ein’ Feste Berg (“A Mighty Fortress”), based on Psalm 46.

In the devil’s dungeon chained I lay,
The pangs of death swept o’er me.
My sin devoured me night and day
In which my mother bore me.
My anguish ever grew more rife,
I took no pleasure in my life.
And sin had made me crazy.

Then was the Father troubled sore
To see me ever languish.
The Everlasting Pity swore
To save me from my anguish.
He turned to me his father heart
And chose himself a bitter part,
His Dearest did it cost him.

Thus spoke the Son, “Hold thou to me,
From now on thou wilt make it.
I gave my very life for thee
And for thee I will stake it.
For I am thine and thou art mine
And where I am our lives entwine
The Old Fiend cannot shake it.
(Luther, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,” 1523–1524)

The “Battle Hymn of the Reformation”:

The Reformation and the Men Behind It – Steven Lawson

The Reformation and the Men Behind It by Steven Lawson | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

Reformation-GeneralStarting today and leading up to Reformation Day (Oct.31, 2014) Ligonier Ministries will be blogging about the key figures of the Reformation. These posts will contain excerpts from Dr.Steve Lawson’s book Pillars of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men (Reformation Trust, 2011).

Today’s post introduces us to the Reformation and its leading figures. Below is the first part of this excerpt. Find the rest at the Ligonier link above.

The Protestant Reformation stands as the most far-reaching, world-changing display of God’s grace since the birth and early expansion of the church. It was not a single act, nor was it led by one man. This history-altering movement played out on different stages over many decades. Its cumulative impact, however, was enormous. Philip Schaff, a noted church historian, writes: “The Reformation of the sixteenth century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history. It marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times. Starting from religion, it gave, directly or indirectly, a mighty impulse to every forward movement, and made Protestantism the chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. VII: Modern Christianity—The German Reformation [1910; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], 1). The Reformation was, at its heart, a recovery of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and this restoration had an unparalleled influence on churches, nations, and the flow of Western civilization.

Also, if you are looking for some good titles for reading and to add to your personal or family library, I can recommend the people at “Grace & Truth Books”. The link will take you to their Reformation section, where they have a number of good books at special prices, including books for young readers.

Luther’s Struggle to Find the Gospel of God (2)

HereIStand-RBaintonAs we take a brief look at Luther’s struggle to find the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ during this Reformation remembrance week, we move on from Luther’s trip to Rome (yesterday’s post) to his time at Wittenberg, where he was transferred (from Erfurt) in 1511. Keep in mind that at this point Luther is still a staunch Roman Catholic monk, loyal to the church and striving to use all her means to soothe his soul and find peace with God. In Wittenberg he lived in an Augustinian cloister and had begun to teach at the University, which Roland Bainton describes as “the darling of the elector,  Frederick the Wise”.

Now let’s return to the narrative of Bainton in Here I Stand as he describes Luther’s continued struggle:

Luther’s difficulties persisted. A precise delineation of their course eludes us. His tremors cannot be said to have mounted in unbroken crescendo to a single crisis. Rather he passed through a series of crises to a relative stability. The stages defy localization as to time, place, or logical sequence. Yet this is clear. Luther probed every resource of contemporary Catholicism for assuaging the anguish of a spirit alienated from God. He tried the way of good works and discovered that he could never do enough to save himself. He endeavored to avail himself of the merits of the saints and ended with a doubt, not a very serious or persistent doubt for the moment, but sufficient to destroy his assurance.

He sought at the same time to explore other ways, and Catholicism had much more to offer. Salvation was never made to rest solely nor even primarily on human achievement. The whole sacramental system of the Church was designed to mediate to man God’s help and favor. Particularly the sacrament of penance afforded solace, not to saints but to sinners. This only required of them, that they should confess all their wrongdoing and seek absolution. Luther endeavored unremittingly to avail himself of this signal mercy. Without confession, he testified, the Devil would have devoured him long ago. He confessed frequently, often daily, and for as long as six hours on a single occasion. Every sin in order to be absolved was to be confessed. Therefore the soul must be searched and the memory ransacked and the motives probed. As an aid the penitent ran through the seven deadly sins and the Ten Commandments. Luther would repeat a confession and, to be sure of including everything, would review his entire life until the confessor grew weary and exclaimed, ‘Man, God is not angry with you. You are angry with God. Don’t you know that God commands you to hope?’

And yet Luther still had no peace – why?

There is, according to Luther, something more drastically wrong with man than any particular list of offenses which can be enumerated, confessed, and forgiven. The very nature of man is corrupt. The penitential system fails because it is directed to particular lapses. Luther had come to perceive that the entire man is in need of forgiveness. In the course of this quest he had wrought himself into a state of emotional disturbance passing the bounds of objectivity….

In consequence the most frightful insecurities beset him. Panic invaded his spirit. The conscience became so disquieted as to start and tremble at the stirring of a wind-blown leaf. The horror of nightmare gripped the soul, the dread of one waking in the dusk to look into the eyes of him who has come to take his life. The heavenly champions all withdrew; the fiend beckoned with leering summons to the impotent soul. These were the torments which Luther repeatedly testified were far worse than any physical ailment that he had ever endured (pp.54-56).

Can we understand and even appreciate this soul struggle of this man of God? Can we see how God was leading him – painstakingly – to the true gospel of forgiveness in His Son? Of that final step we will learn tomorrow, D.V.

Koinonia Quiz: Test Your Church History

Koinonia: Quiz: Test Your Church History.

This blog, hosted by Zondervan Academic (publishing) and Friends, recently posted this brief church history quiz based on a new book they published. Go ahead and take it and see how you do. And make the reading of church history a part of your regular reading plan! Here’s a part of the post, which also promotes the recent church history book published. You can find the quiz either at the link above or the one below.

If you can’t see it above, view the quiz here.

To compare your answers to those of your peers, click the “See Previous Responses” link at the end of the quiz.

Learn more about church history from Frank A. James III and John Woodbridge in their new book Church History, Volume 2: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day.


Church History, Volume 2

Church History, Volume 2

by John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III

Buy it Today:

Barnes & Noble
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– See more at:

You’ll discover that story — plus a few more surprises — when you take this brief quiz on church history, created by Frank A. James III (co-author of Church History, Volume 2) and Emily Varner ( – See more at:

Quiz: Test Your Church History

How did this famous reformer meet his unfortunate end?


You’ll discover that story — plus a few more surprises — when you take this brief quiz on church history, created by Frank A. James III (co-author of Church History, Volume 2) and Emily Varner (

– See more at:

Quiz: Test Your Church History

How did this famous reformer meet his unfortunate end?


You’ll discover that story — plus a few more surprises — when you take this brief quiz on church history, created by Frank A. James III (co-author of Church History, Volume 2) and Emily Varner (

– See more at:

Gutenberg’s Press and the Protestant Reformation, Part 2 – Reformation21

The Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation, Part Two – Reformation21.

GutenburgPressDuring  this Reformation month, Barry Waugh has begun a two part series on “The Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation” at the “Ref21″ website. The first part I referenced last Tuesday treated the technological side of the development of Gutenberg’s press, including how paper and ink were made and used. In this second installment Waugh treats Martin Luther’s publishing in Germany.

You will be amazed at how the technology for printing developed, and of course, how God was at work preparing this means for the spread of the gospel of sovereign grace restored to the church by Luther and the other Reformers.

Below are the opening paragraphs of part 2. Read the full article at the “Ref21″ link above.

When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517, he was calling for a disputation concerning indulgences. His action was not one of defiant vandalism; the church door was the church bulletin board of the day. However, Luther’s request for a disputation went unanswered because the Ninety-Five Theses caused such controversy that today they are credited with beginning the Reformation. Due to the controversial nature of his handwritten document, Luther printed them in Wittenberg in Latin. In 1518, the German translation was published and during the course of the next two years an additional twenty-two German editions were printed.(1)  If it had not been for the efficiency of movable type printing for duplicating the document, his reforming work and influence on other reformers would have developed differently.
Before looking into Luther’s use of printing, a preliminary concern is the literacy demographics of Germans at the time of the Reformation. In Germany, overall literacy has been estimated to be as low as five percent in rural areas, with the urban literacy peaking at thirty percent. (2) Such circumstances raise the question, “How did the Reformation take hold in Germany if texts and reading were important for its success?”  One answer came from “Nürnberg, [where] as in other towns, it became the practice to read the books of Luther out loud in the market-place.”(3)  Another way Luther’s publications were used was as in Speyer, where the people were “described as having the books read to them at supper, and as making transcripts of them”(4) A literate person, such as a doctor, lawyer, or teacher, would acquire Luther’s latest pamphlet and then read it to crowds or households gathered for the purpose. Those who could read, read to others, and when there were literate persons in the audience they sometimes duplicated the publication by hand for distribution. The availability of printed works and manuscript copies in the vernacular motivated some of the illiterate to learn how to read.

Word(s) Wednesday: “Post Tenebras Lux”

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Our word for this Wednesday is a Latin expression with important ties to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century: post tenebras lux. Its meaning? “After darkness, light.” That is, after the spiritually dark time in the church of the Middle Ages, the light of God’s truth (Word) came to shine again. These words became the motto of the Reformation (especially by the Calvinists!), so much so that they were inscribed on the “Reformation Wall” in Geneva, Switzerland and are part of that city’s seal (see images below).

Wikipedia has this as part of its entry for this expression (the link are useful too):

Post tenebras lux is a Latin phrase translated as Light After Darkness. It appears as Post tenebras spero lucem (“After darkness, I hope for light”) in the Vulgate version of Job 17:12.[1]

Post Tenebras Lux in the Seal of the Canton of Geneva.

The phrase came to be adopted by as the Calvinist motto, and was subsequently adopted as the motto of the entire Protestant Reformation,.[2] It is used by John Calvin‘s adopted city of Geneva, Switzerland on their coins. As a mark of its role in the Calvinist movement, the motto is engraved on the Reformation Wall, in Geneva, and the Huguenot Monument, in Franschhoek, South Africa.


What does it stand for? Dr. R.C.Sproul explains it well  in connection with an introduction he wrote for the Reformation Study Bible:

ReformationWall-Geneva-1The Reformation Study Bible is so called because it stands in the Reformed tradition of the original Geneva Bible of the sixteenth century. In modern Geneva, Switzerland, a memorial wall has been built and dedicated to the sixteenth century Reformation. This Reformation Monument is adorned with statues of the great leaders, Calvin, Beza, Farel, and Knox. Surrounding these figures is the phrase, post tenebras lux – “After darkness, light.”

The light of the Reformation was the light of the Bible. Luther translated the Latin Bible that could be read only by professionals into everyday German that could be read by the people. In England, Wycliffe and then William Tyndale had translated the Bible into English. Yet there was substantial opposition to these efforts. Tyndale was burned at the stake in 1536. During the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-1558) the Reformation was suppressed. The Roman Catholic mass had to be celebrated, services could not be conducted in English, and priests were forbidden to marry. Two hundred eighty-eight persons were burned, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.

These persecutions drove exiles from Britain to Europe. The most capable scholars among them came to Geneva, Switzerland. There they undertook the task of preparing a new translation of the Bible in English. The Geneva Bible was published in 1560, carefully designed to be accurate and understandable. It was the first English Bible to use verse divisions, as “most profitable for memory” and for finding and comparing other passages. It was provided with marginal notes based on Reformed principles.

The Geneva Bible dominated the English-speaking world for a hundred years. It was the Bible used by Shakespeare. The King James Bible was published in 1611 but did not supplant the Geneva Bible until fifty years later. The Pilgrims and Puritans carried the Geneva Bible to the shores of the New World. American colonists were reared on the Geneva Bible. They read it, studied it, and sought to live by its light.

Since that time a multitude of English translations and study Bibles have appeared. The Reformation Study Bible contains a modern restatement of Reformation truth in its comments and theological notes. Its purpose is to present the light of the Reformation afresh.



I even stumbled on a website devoted to the Reformation under this theme. It looks to have some profitable history lessons on the Reformation. Check it out.

Gutenberg’s Press and the Protestant Reformation – Reformation21

The Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation, Part One – Reformation21.

GutenburgPressAt the outset of this Reformation month, Barry Waugh has begun a two part series on “The Importance of the Printing Press for the Protestant Reformation” at the “Ref21” website. The first part linked above treats the technological side of the development of Gutenberg’s press, including how paper and ink were made and used.

You will be amazed at how the technology for printing developed, and of course, how God was at work preparing this means for the spread of the gospel of sovereign grace restored to the church by Luther and the other Reformers.

Below are the opening paragraphs. Read the full article at the “Ref21” link above.

This article is the first of two that will consider the importance of Johann Gutenberg’s movable type printing technology for the Protestant Reformation and how the new technology was employed effectively by Martin Luther in Germany. Part one will deal with the technology, and part two will consider how it was used by Luther in Germany.
Johann Gutenberg is credited with having developed the movable type printing process sometime before 1450 while living in Strassbourg, but due to the limited information available about him the year is not certain. Gutenberg was born in Mainz about 1397 and, after developing his printing innovation in Strassbourg, he moved to his hometown and opened a print shop. His trade was goldsmithing, which would have given him the skills needed for making movable type via casting and then tooling lead. Sadly, eventually Gutenberg lost his printing business to a creditor and died in1468. As an aside, some have speculated that there were others working on the printing process around the time of Gutenberg. This may well be the case, but, for the moment, we will leave this question to the side.
Gutenberg’s invention made the printing of lengthy texts possible by continuing to use existing materials. The difference was that Gutenberg improved their utility. Paper, ink, the screw press, and imaging techniques were used and improved as movable type printing increased in use.By the mid fourteenth century, paper had become commonly available in Europe and was enjoying increasing use by 1450. The availability of paper is quite remarkable in itself which merits further attention.