More and more Christians are looking for ways to celebrate Reformation Day. You may even be looking for Reformation homeschool resources. Or perhaps you ended up here by accident and you are not even familiar with what this day is about? If not, no worries, because it tends to be in the shadows of a holiday that lots of families do celebrate on October 31st. Since you’re here, why not learn a little bit about Reformation Day and why Christians should be focusing on it more than Halloween. After all, maybe you’ll want to do something for this impactful and historical day instead. We hope so.
By definition, the Protestant Reformation is “a 16th-century movement for the reform of abuses in the Roman Catholic Church ending in the establishment of the Reformed and Protestant Churches.”
There are many key players in the Reformation movement. I’ll introduce a couple of them below, and I’ll also add a fairly comprehensive list of Reformation homeschool resources at the end you can use to learn more with your middle and high school students.
John Wycliffe – The Morning Star of the Reformation
Now that’s a way to be remembered. Have you ever heard of John Wycliffe? As you’ve probably pieced together, he’s known as the Morning Star of the Reformation. His lifespan ranges from 1320-ish to 1384. In short, he’s the first in line of many reformers. And what makes them reformers is the fact that they measure individual reform by the Gospel.
In order for individual reform to happen, John Wycliffe recognized the need for individuals to have the Bible translated from Latin into English. So, he set to work and in order for individuals to be able to read the Bible for themselves.
However, having the Bible translated into the language of his own language isn’t where he stops. No, this was the only the means to an end. For his goal was to also have copies available in the hands of his very own countrymen. Of note, he had copies of the whole Bible distributed as well as portions of it and single books.
Do you have a Bible in English? We each have John Wycliffe to be thankful to for responding to God’s call to translate it from Latin to English.
Wycliffe’s Legacy of Lollards
Yes, the Lollards. Times were pretty perilous in those days. For sure, Wycliffe had opponents. Waiting for Wycliffe to pass away, they have high hopes that his main followers will scatter. And why won’t they? After all, they’re weak and intimidated. But much to their disappointment, they quickly realize that these men and women have inner-strength to see them through. In fact, they have life in them which gives life to this movement. I’m sure you recognize where this life and internal strength comes from.
In addition to reading the Bible, they strive after holiness. And they have a zeal for spreading Scriptural truths and uprooting predominant errors to bring about Church reform.
Church History has its ups and downs. Certainly one of its ups is because of the Gospel preachers:
The preaching, be it remembered, was in English; and the preachers were mainly of the same class as their hearers: their homely expositions of Scripture went home to the heart; they spoke, moreover, of prevailing sins and evils, as luxury and the like; they called by their right names the misdeeds of the clergy, while for themselves they sought nothing. It is no wonder that these traveling preachers stirred the land, and that the minds of men were attracted to them in a continually augmenting degree.
Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History ©1965 by Rosalie June Slater, p. 169
Firstly, there’s a lot of negative things people often times bring up about Martin Luther. But what I want to emphasize is that no human is perfect. And we must consider how God has and continues to use imperfect people to move His purposes forward. His plans move forward not because of imperfect people. But despite them.
Several years later, from 1482-1546, Martin Luther is living. And Germany is where God places him from the time of his birth to that of his passing.
As a monk, he read Latin, German, Greek, and Hebrew. It’s when he studies the Greek text that he realizes the Vulgate (in Latin) isn’t adequate. After not being able to convince the church to reform, he eventually separates from the Catholic Church.
There becomes a stirring within his conscience due to the sin within him. In fact, he’s terrified of his sins. And the only way he finds peace is by accepting that he and anyone else is saved by faith in the grace of Christ Jesus alone. And really, this is at the heart of every other Reformation that takes place across countries.
It Wasn’t All Roses
Martin Luther had a coat of arms known as the Luther Rose and you can read about at this article: The Luther Rose and Its Meaning. In part, the rose symbolizes peace.
But it wasn’t all roses. The nailing of his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church’s door creates quite a stir. Plus, when Luther challenges the “divine right of the papacy” at the Diet of Worms in 1521, it gets pretty ugly. However, he stands up to the papacy by appealing to the authority of the Scriptures. And because of this, he translated the Bible from the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic into German vs. from the Latin. Finally, his countrymen can have the opportunity to learn how to read and to read the Bible for themselves.
Perhaps, you don’t speak German so you wonder what this has to do with you. Well, it emboldened others as well. And so it makes its way to the English speaking parts of Europe, and the Gospel continues to spread westward across the ocean with the Pilgrims. And that’s where it meets you and me, my fellow Christians who happen to be American.
Many Protestant Reformers
Truly, there are many Protestant Reformers to learn about. And I hope that you do learn about them and honor the memory of their lives. They risked so much for others. But these two men were the catalysts to helping individuals receive copies of the Bible. May we never take for granted the access we have to God’s Word.
Reformation Homeschool Resources for Middle and High School
Here are a few Reformation homeschool resources you can use to learn more about Reformation Day and the Protestant reformers such as John Wycliffe and Martin Luther. These resources will work well for a family study or for a homeschool study for middle and high school students.
Luther the Leader by Virgil E. Robinson
The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols
Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr
Martin Luther: Reformation Fire by Catherine MacKenzie
Thunderstorm in the Church by Louise Vernon
Morning Star of the Reformation by Andy Thomson
Dearer Than Life: A Story of the Times of Wycliffe by Emma Leslie
The Beggar’s Bible by Louise Vernon
John Knox: The Sharpened Sword by Catherine MacKenzie
John Knox by Simonetta Carr
John Calvin: After Darkness Light by Catherine MacKenzie
John Calvin by Simonetta Carr
The Bible Smuggler by Louise Vernon
Ink on His Fingers by Louise Vernon
Lady Jane Grey by Simonetta Carr
Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions by W. Robert Godfrey
Martin Luther DVD
Curriculum and Printables
Martin Luther 12-Week Unit Study for Middle and High School
Reformation Biographical Profile Cards from Thinking Kids Press
The 5 Solas Family Bible Study from Thinking Kids Press
Reformation Writing Prompts from Writing with Sharon Watson
Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation by Rob Shearer
Free Reformation Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share
A Night of Reformation Celebration from Doorposts