Hat tip to Tim Challies for his reminder today of a generally overlooked event in the Reformation. On December 10th, 1520 Martin Luther responded to the "papal bull" Exsurge Domine by setting that bad boy on fire. This papal bull was the "official" response to Luther's 95 theses and denounced him for asking the wrong sorts of questions. The bull from Pope Leo X seemed to be unexpected and certainly unimaginably harsh to Luther and it also seems that this event marked a change in Luther from a monk asking some questions to open rebellion against Rome. It is an arguable position that the burning of Exsurge Domine is the true start of the Protestant Reformation rather than the nailing of the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. With this response from Rome and Luther's refusal to stand down, he put his life on the line because he recognized how critical these doctrinal questions were.
We suffer as the church from our ignorance of the past, for upon the foundations of the past is built the church of today. Where the church is in error, and there are many examples, one can invariably look to church history to discover that these problems are not new or unique. There is indeed nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and we would all benefit from learning from the past rather than repeating the same errors over and over.