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April 10, 2016 – 9:30-10:15 am @ CAPC Oakland
Session 1:

The Reformation: our rebirthing of church as re-formed disciples from a protest movement:

Our church tradition – Presbyterian (USA) – comes from the Bible, the historic church universal and is also great shaped by the events we now call the Protestant Reformation of the 15th century in Europe.  Luther succeeds, where others failed, in calling for a reformation movement of the existing church.  This leads to a division and new church creation through much theological reflection and actualization.  Luther impacts John Calvin, a French lawyer who will go on to create the Reformed Church and what we call Calvinist Theology.  This goes to Scotland with John Knox, and eventually makes it ways to the American Colonies where the first Presbytery is set up in Philadelphia in 1706.


In the class, we’ll watch together three videos totaling approximately 25 minutes.  Then we’ll react and discuss them together. The videos introduce the great change occurring in the 15th century as Science asserted itself in philosophical understanding, humanism has thoroughly impacted Western Civilization and brought about the re-discovery of many ancient texts, a global-ized economy increased with colonization of the “New World”, literacy increased, the Catholic Church struggled to pay off the debts of its massive new cathedral in Rome, and the technological innovation of the printing press rocked the world.


Here are links to the videos produced by the Kahn Academy, which summarize the history of the Reformation and introduce the main Reformers.  We’ll watch them in class and you can watch them on your own as well.  Simply click on the links to be redirected to the videos hosted on YouTube.


An Introduction to the Protestant Reformation  (text)

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Setting the stage (part 1) (8 minutes)

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther (part 2) (11 minutes)

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: Varieties of Protestantism (part 3) (8 minutes)


The Protestant Reformation helps set in large part the stage for the Modern World: in which there is no longer the omnipotence of one particular authority, but rather an insistence upon obeying your own conscience.  This bedrock value is inherent in both our American society and our Presbyterian Church.

Additional Readings you can do on your own to have a wider grasp on our history.
The Great Emergence. “The Great Reformation” pp.43-61.

Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers. Chapter 1 Presbyterian History & Heritage” pp. 1-9

A Brief History of the Presbyterians. Chapter 1 “From Acts of the Apostles to the Age of the Reformation” pp. 1-14 & Chapter 2

“The Birth of the Reformed Tradition in Europe” pp. 15-27.


You can also watch the fourth video of the above series which focuses upon the response of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation.

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation: The Counter-Reformation (part 4) (10 minutes)

Questions for reflection as you prepare.

  1. What strikes you as important from the values issued through the Protestant Reformation?
  2. How do you see them actualized in our way of being church together, and the ways in which you express your faith?
  3. How is our current time of dramatic change similar to the great change that was occurring in the world in the 15th century?
  4. What questions do you have that you’d like to talk further about in class?