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The Impact of Martin Luther and the Reformation on Modern Revivalism


In 1545, about one year before his death, Luther revised a hymn that had blamed the Jews for the death of Christ (a common claim by the medieval church), removing the invective against the Jews. Luther’s revised version reads,

T’was our great sins and misdeeds gross

Nailed Jesus, God’s true Son, to the cross.

Thus you, poor Judas, we dare not blame,

Nor the band of Jews; ours is the shame.

If Luther were living today in this more tolerant and civil era, and with the Jews back in their homeland, he might well be one of their biggest supporters.

Reformation Opened the Way For Revival

It was no coincidence that the Reformation, with its emphasis on Scripture, came on the heels of the invention of the printing press, with the Bible being the first book to be printed. For the first time in history God’s word could be mass-produced and made available to the common people. With the word of God now available on a scale hitherto unknown, Luther and other reformers emphasized education for the masses, primarily so they could read the Bible. They saw getting God’s word into the hands and hearts of the people as the key to on-going reformation throughout the Church. The Reformation and its emphases also opened the way for all the great revivals of the modern era.

The invention of the printing press and Luther’s success in directing the church’s attention back to Scripture did more to change the course of history than any events since the birth of Christ and the conversion of the apostle Paul. Even secular historians understand this and Time Warner, in the year 2000, named Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and Luther’s instigation of the Reformation as the number 1 and number 3 most important events of the past millennia.






1 Philip Schaff, vol. 7 of History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1910), 389.

2 Schaff, vol. 6 of History of the Christian Church, 388.

3 Schaff, vol. 6 of History of the Christian Church, 390.

4 Martin Luther, Table Talk (Gainsville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2004), 138-39.

5 A.J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing, (Harrisburg: Christian Publ., 1961), 94.

6 Schaff, vol. 7 of History of the Christian Church, 295.

7 Martin Luther, “The Freedom Of A Christian,” Three Treatises (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1957), 285.

8 Martin Brect, James L. Schaaf, trans., Martin Luther: The Preservation of the Church 1532-1546 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 351.



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Category: Church History, Summer 2009

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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