CIU Professors Reflect on the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

October 20, 2017

On this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, two Columbia International University (CIU) professors reflect on Martin Luther’s Reformation principle of “Sola Scriptura” or “Scripture Alone,” as the final authority for belief and practice within the church.

It was on Oct. 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed to the Wittenberg, Germany church door, a list of questions and propositions for theological debate known as the 95 Theses. His action culminated in the Protestant Reformation.

Dr. Ed Smither, dean of the CIU College of Intercultural Studies, says Luther demonstrated his conviction of “Scripture Alone” by spending the autumn of 1522 in hiding while he translated the New Testament into colloquial German.

“Thanks to the advanced technology of the printing press, he ordered 3,000 copies of the New Testament, which sold out almost immediately,” Smither said.

Smither says Luther’s complaints also raised deeper questions such as “What is correct Christian belief?” and “What is the basis for Christian belief and practice?”

“These questions are just as relevant to us in the 21st century as they were to Luther in the 16th century,” Smither said. “Luther found his answer in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Through the Scriptures, the gospel was clarified and Christian doctrine was faithfully constructed.”

CIU Professor of New Testament and Greek, Dr. David Croteau adds that the Bible is more than a Sunday devotional, but a guide for daily life.

Sola Scriptura means that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is our highest authority in spiritual matters, issues related to our faith and practice,” Croteau said.

CIU’s core value of the Authority of Scripture will be commemorated in a series of Chapel messages Oct. 24-26. The Chapels begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 24, and at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25-26 in Shortess Chapel. The public is invited. CIU is located at 7435 Monticello Road in Columbia.