Ukraine is experiencing a turning point in its history. Something old has ended and the new has not startedyet. Maidan Revolution, war, political and economic crisis has created the atmosphere for changes. Ukrainians theoretically understand that the real change can only begin from the inside – the hearts of individuals. Ukrainians look at the West and want to repeat its success.They are as Israel nation that was released from slavery but hasn’t entered the Promised Land which has the desired results: civil society, effective democracy, economic prosperity, rule of law, freedom and respect for the individual. Where is the way that leads us there and how to find it? Why were the abovementioned social phenomena born in the West, more precisely, in some Western countries and in other parts of the world they didn’t appear and take roots? Is it a coincidence or the result of environmental and other factors?
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, a highly developed Scandinavian country that embraced Protestantism in 1524.
The Old Testament prophet appeals to the people of Israel:“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls!” Jer.6:16. History is the interpretation of the past for the sake of future. History is full of roads and signposts that might reveal the secrets of future success. There is no present without the past and the future is also determined by the processes and facts that were born in history. This raises another question – what drives the historical process? Karl Marx argued that being determines the consciousness. Of course it is so, but the story of the West clearly shows that consciousness determines being much more than vice versa. Of course, the way of thinking and values system determine conditions of life, but living conditions are much more shaped by faith, values and mindset.
What drives the historical process? Karl Marx argued that being determines the consciousness. Of course it is so, but the story of the West clearly shows that consciousness determines being much more than vice versa. Of course, the way of thinking and values system determine conditions of life, but living conditions are much more shaped by faith, values and mindset.
Particularly striking proof of this “anti-Marxist” paradigm is the history of Reformation. This story proves the veracity of biblical worldview that emphasizes the primacy of the spiritual over the material aspect. The Gospel of John begins with the words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).The Bible teaches us that the welfare of nations depends on whether they live according to God’s commandments. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 28:1,2)…”. But the law has a downside: “If you will not be listening to the voice of God and go after other gods…all these curses will come on you…”.
To verify the validity of these laws sufficiency one has to compare the standard of living in the North, South and Eastern Europe, North and South America, South and North Korea.The countries which have accepted Reformation have surpassed by economic and other indicators the countries that rejected Reformation choosing different options of humanism.
What is Reformation? Reformation is a spiritual and social movement that began with the speech of the German monk Martin Luther. In 1517 he expressed his protest against the deformation of biblical truth in the Roman Catholic Church at the time. Martin Luther as well as the following reformers after him: Philip Melanchthon, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and John Knox advocated the return of the church to the biblical principles from which the medieval church had departedlong ago.
Reformation is the idea of returning the Christianity back to the biblical truth. The concept of Reformation is in its root ‘form’, i.e. the image. In the Bible we read that God created man in His own image and likeness. Creator who is the author of all reality has given certain standards for any reality – not only for the individual and the church, but also for society. This initial image form is lost under the influence of sin. Sin leads tothe deformation of a person, church and society. The prefix ‘re’means a return to the original form. Reformation is a movement that tries to see all areas of life from the biblical point of view, not just the religious sphere. Thus God’s principles influence not only salvation of souls but also the public sphere of life– culture, economy, politics. That is why Reformation is a spiritual and social phenomenon that radically changed Western civilization and, through it, the whole world as well.
Martin Luther and other reformers advocated the idea of rediscovering the Bible. Among them are the 5 most important Gospel truths that have not only changed the lives of individuals, but have had an incredibly large impact on the course of world history.
This is the basic idea of Reformation andthis is the main Protestant preaching. The Bible says that Jesus is the only Savior and Lord. The reformers preached that neither Virgin Mary,nor saints, nor religious sacraments,nor good works can bring people salvation and eternal life, but only Jesus Christ. In the Middle Ages, when Christianity became far from the truth of the Gospel and salvation was determined by indulgences, suddenly some people appear who begin to preach: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).It was the revolutionary message about merciful and loving God who has not regretted His only son for the salvation of even one sinner. Christ came to give his precious life for you – these words were preached in churches, schools, academies, through art: Rembrandt painted this sermon; Bach sounded it through his compositions. In a cruel medieval world people everywherestarted to hear that God loves them. Reformation was able to estimate every human life – you are worthy the life of the Son of God! It just raised the status of a man and its value, which spawned a social phenomenon of Western civilization such as the value of the individual.
Reformation was able to estimate every human life – you are worthy the life of the Son of God! It just raised the status of a man and its value, which spawned a social phenomenon of Western civilization such as the value of the individual
Regardless of material andsocial status, education, color and sex, all people are important because God gave His Son Jesus Christ for them. The Europeans just then came torealize that all are equal before God, since all are children of one Father in heaven. If all people are His children, then all people are brothers and sisters to each other. This spiritual idea became the basis for such social phenomenon as human rights. In the countries that have experienced Reformation people gradually realized that human rights are not provided by the government, but by the Creator.
If all people are His children, then all people are brothers and sisters to each other. This spiritual idea became the basis for such social phenomenon as human rights. In the countries that have experienced Reformation people gradually realized that human rights are not provided by the government, but by the Creator.
The American Constitutionbegins with such words: “All men are created equal…and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, the great fighters against the remnants of discrimination in the Western world, were the carriers of the Protestant paradigm of thinking where there was no room for slavery, but freedom in Jesus Christ for all people.
Protestants believed that neither religious tradition, nor human teaching, but only God’s Word is a revelation for us –it is the infallible source of truth about God, man and all existing spiritual reality. Fora believer to communicate with God, he or she must read the Bible every day. But you must first learn to read. This was a major problem in Europe, at that time 90% of people were illiterate, that’s whyschools were opened in all the churches, higher education institutions were established. The process of public education progressed so successfully that in a very short period of time the majority of European population could read and write. Lutheran Sweden was the first country which in the early XVII century introduced mandatory secondary education. Therefore, literacy and education are the fruit of Reformation. Reformers were the first to reject Latin and the studies were conducted in a native language.
Literacy and education are the fruit of Reformation. Reformers were the first to reject Latin and the studies were conducted in a native language
Martin Luther was concerned to ensure the ordinary German people could read the word of God in the language they understand well. So he translated the New Testament and then the whole Bible into German, laying the foundations of modern German language. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Bible was translated by the Protestants into all European languages. Jan Amos Komenský, a Czech Protestant, laid the foundations of modern pedagogy.The next fruit of Reformation logically continues the previous one. With literacy and the revival of European languages, the process of national revival started.
With literacy and the revival of European languages, the process of national revival started
The modern map of Europe emerged during the 16th and 17th centuries, when the term ‘nation state’ appeared. Reformation provides an example of national awakening on Christian principles and forms a model of patriotism as the affection for its people and its country. No national egoism, no chauvinism but Christian patriotism, which is rooted in the love for neighbor and respect for other nations.
Reformers have emphasized that people should behave the same way regardless of whether they are in church or at home, at work or anywhere else, as God sees the obvious and secret human actions and it’s impossible to hide from Him, even in their thoughts. The Bible teaches that every person will answer for every deed in court before the throne of God who is just. This court cannot be bought off. The preaching about God’s presence has gradually formed a certain law-abiding mentality, characteristic only to Protestant societies.
The preaching about God’s presence has gradually formed a certain law-abiding mentality, characteristic only to Protestant societies
Western thinking has inherent understanding that the law is not a tool of the government manipulation of people, but one of the natural lawsthat is on the same level with the law of gravity. Laws create an ordered world, prevent chaos and anarchy, provide stable and secure life, but only when people obey them. The Scottish people like Pastor Samuel Rutherford, who in 1644 published his book «Lex Rex», have played an important role in the development of legal consciousness of the Protestant West. This is the word game which literally means “Law is King.” Before Reformation the understanding of «Rex Lex» prevailed. At the same time, when in Protestant Scotland Rutherford wrote in his famous book, the Catholic king of France, Louis XIV declares, “the state is me”. He was called “the King –sun”, but it is during his rule that the sun of France steadily started to go down.
The idea of «Coram Deo» more than anything else contributed to the development of modern legal culture and legal system, particularly in the Anglo-American world.
Reformation preachers preached that everyone has his unique vocation, unique life purpose. And above all, its purpose can be found in the professional sphere. Conscientious and careful performance of work is a service to a neighbor. Regardless of whether you are a priest or craftsman, a housewife or a teacher – you must carry out your work “for the Lord”.
The famous sociologist Max Weber in his work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” stresses that the German term ‘Beruf’, which is translated as a calling from God to carry out work ina clearly defined professional field, is exclusively the result of Luther’s translation of the Bible. Before that, no other language and culturehad such an interpretation in the professional sphere. That work ethic helped to form the Protestant work ethics, which can be characterized as service to God and others through professional skills by performing the work skillfully and with pleasure. It had a great influence on the development of the capitalist system and economic prosperity.
Protestant work ethics had a great influence on the development of the capitalist system and economic prosperity
In Puritan England in the seventeenth century the books with the titles “Calling the merchant,” “Divinely inspired weaver”, “Christian navigation” came out in large editions. People could combine a biblical revelation and professionalism.It is necessary to compare the welfare of the Protestant and Orthodox countries and draw attention to the work ethic that prevail in these two civilization territories, and then it becomes clear why they are separated by a huge economic gap.
Another phenomenon that was born out of the idea of «Beruf» is the development of science and technology. Most prominent scientists of this era were born-again Christians. Isaac Newton, by the way, wrote more articles on theology than physics. The technical revolution has its roots in Protestant England, which in the XVIII century experienced a number of great spiritual awakenings.
Before Reformation, the church was divided into two categories of people: a small caste of priests and a gray mass of laity. Reformers instead declared the forgotten Gospel principle according to which all who believe in Jesus Christ become priests, because it is written that the Son of God “has made us kings and priests to serve his God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). A priest is a representative of God before men and the representative of men before God, a man with a special mission, who is endowed with spiritual gifts for its implementation. This high status imposed upon men a great responsibility for the world that surrounds them. It grewa new phenomenon at the West, fruit of Reformation – civil society – the community of responsible, educated, active and proactive citizens that are able to organize themselves to solve their local problems without waiting for help from the authorities.
The Son of God “has made us kings and priests to serve his God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). A priest is a representative of God before men and the representative of men before God, a man with a special mission, who is endowed with spiritual gifts for its implementation. This high status imposed upon men a great responsibility for the world that surrounds them. It grewa new phenomenon at the West, fruit of Reformation – civil society
In Protestant countries people started various unions, associations, clubs through which they showed their civil activity. This formed the political consciousness of European nations. Modern parliamentarianism is another fruit of the idea of universal priesthood. Parliamentarianism is the power of the people through their representatives chosen deliberately and responsibly. It is this political system that was born in Puritan England in the 17th century. The same can be said about democracy in general.
At the post-Soviet territory it is believed that modern democracy was born from the French Revolution, but this assertion is far from truth. In fact, the standards of modern democracy were born from English and American revolutions, which, incidentally, took place before the French one. One of the founders of the Constitution of the United States John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”. History proves the validity of this assumption, for example, in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia the constitutionalism did not work.
In the 16th and early 17th century Ukraine, like all the nations of Europe, was at a crossroads. Just as it is written in the book of Deuteronomy: “Behold, I lay before you two ways…”.We can only guesswhatthe life of Ukrainians would look today had they made the same choice as the Swedes, Dutch, Swiss or British citizens. Didn’t Hrushevsky mean the same when he wrote: “Ukrainian ship was sailing under the full wind of Reformation and then it lowered the sails when the wind ceased”?
Ukrainian ship was sailing under the full wind of Reformation and then it lowered the sails when the wind ceased. Mykhailo Hrushevsky
16th century in Ukrainian history is considered the first period of revival. Reformation had a huge impact on the formation of Ukraine. Had there been no Reformation, there would have been no Ostrog Academy, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Peresopnytsia Gospel and Ostrog Bible – they are also the fruit of Reformation. Most likely there would have been no Brest Union, which means no Greek Catholicism, because the Church Union in 1596 was a reaction to the “heresy of Luther”. No union – no Cossack wars. No union – and Galychyna would have looked differently – this is an important part of Ukraine in terms of national consciousness.
Celebration of the 500 years of Reformation in the country, announced by the President himself, can be a serious step toward the opening of the sources of European civilization for Ukraine. At the same time it enables the Ukrainian Evangelical Christians to make their own contribution to the national idea of Ukraine, to the process of the revival of our country.