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Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 26 - December 2008 / January 2009 > A History of the Christian Church - Part Sixteen

A History of the Christian Church

Part Sixteen

compiled by Denis Jenkins

Title      A History of the Christian Church
Part       Sixteen
Theme   Denmark and Sweden Turn to the  Scriptures Instead of Following Roman Tradition.

This is Part 16 in the series. Parts 1 to 15 can be found at the following links -->  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14 & Part 15.

As a result of William of Orange bringing religious freedom to Holland, the Scandinavian countries accepted the principles of the reformation in a peaceful and exciting environment.  The  people of Northern Europe recieved  Luther's writings from students returning home, to Scandinavia, from Wittenburg university.  The publication of Luther's writings spread the light of the Bible Gospel throughout Scandinavia.  The simple hardy people of the north, as a result of being exposed to new light of the Gospel, saw through the deception of the Roman Church; recognising the corruption and the superstition misleading ignorant uneducated people.  They welcomed the simple purity of worshiping a loving God who  was accessible personally to them.  They willingly gave away the pomp and ceremony that magnified the grandeur of the Roman Church and at the same time gained a personal relationship with God as opposed to settling one's salvation through priests in the form of indulgences promoted by the Roman Church.

Tausen, a young peasant boy of Denmark, with a vigorous intellect, who hungered for education is an example of one of the students who was influential in bringing Luther's writings to Scandinavia.  As he could not afford to support this so much desired education privately, he entered a cloister where the prior saw great promise in him and indicated the church's interest in educating him.  Through the Roman Church Tausen had a chance for education at Cologne University.   After some time at Cologne, Tausen became disgusted by mysticism of the schoolmen that did not satisfy his hunger for the truth of the scriptures.  It was at this time that Tausen obtained some of Luther's writings.  He read them with wonder and delight.  He dreamed of having personal instruction from this inspired reformer. His self directed education led him to scripture study and at the same time learning about Luther's new found doctrines caused Tausen to make up his mind that he would enroll at Wittenberg and learn at the reformer's feet.  Tausen became convinced and convicted of its truth.

Tausen's presence at Wittenberg, the stronghold of the reformation thought, did not please his monastic superior who believed that the church's new scholar was not to  be endangered by the poison of reformation heresy.

After Tausen returned to Denmark on completing studies at Wittenberg, he rejoined his cloister.  No one suspected him of Lutherism; he did not reveal this secret. Without prejudicing his companions, he shared with them the exciting truths of a God-given plan of salvation.  He led them to a purer faith and therefore a holier life.  He taught these men of the church the value of opening the Bible, understanding the true meaning of Christ's death and how it has freed us from the condemnation of sin.  Of how through ones faith in Christ's gift of forgiveness we are clothed with his righteousness.  All that we personally do to try to make ourselves right with God is useless and pointless religious pomp and ceremony.  Our Christian behaviour is the outworking of the power of God in our lives through the leadership of the Holy Spirit; it is not the means to salvation but only the evidence of it.  Soon the change in the lives of those within the cloister bore evidence of Tausen's work.

Great was the prior's wrath, when he found out that Tausen was teaching the reformation message right in the midst of the church itself.  Tausen was immediately removed from his own monastery and placed in a cell under strict supervision.  The fire of the true Gospel so enthused him and the inquisitiveness of his supervisors for the reasons for his incarceration, led to many hours of discussion and debate through his cell bars.  Soon the very monks supervising his confinement, declared themselves converts to protestantism.  His new guardians were horrified as it seemed that no matter what they did they were not going to silence Tausen spreading the truth of God's word.    Had the Danish Fathers been practised in the art of dealing with heresy, Tausen's voice may never have been heard of again.  Instead of consigning him to an underground dungeon, they in rage threw him out of the monastery.  Just as Tausen was thrown out, a royal edict was issued protecting all teachers of the new doctrine.  Now the Roman Church in Denmark was powerless to control Tausen.

On his release, Tausen began to preach.  The churches were opened to him.  People came by the hundreds and thousands to listen to him.  This encouraged the listeners to obtain a copy of the New Testament that had been previously translated into the Danish tongue.  The work of Rome to stop this escalation of the reformation only continued to fire it on even more.

Before long, Denmark officially declared its acceptance of the reformed faith.

This time a blacksmiths sons in Sweden, Olaf and Lauretius Petri became prominent young people who spread the Reformation Gospel.  They too had returned from studying at Wittenberg under Luther and Melancthon.  The truths of the Bible they had learnt, Olaf and Laurentius were diligent and on fire to teach.  The Roman Church stirred up some of the people to fight against Olaf as he presented the new doctrines to the people.  At times he barely escaped with his life.  However, Olaf and Laurentius were both protected by the King of Sweden.

In the presence of the King, leading men of Sweden and the Roman authorities, Olaf Petri ably defended the reform faith against the Roman theological champions.  Olaf declared that the teachings of the fathers should only be accepted when what they were teaching was in accordance with the scriptures.  Olaf verbally chastised the Roman Church for setting doctrines that suited the advantage of the church, imposing rituals of financial burden or fear on its members claiming these unbiblical rituals to be necessary for a persons salvation.    Olaf and Laurentius were no noisy, illiterate sectarian controversialists - far from it, these men had studied the word of God and knew well how to wield the weapons with which the armoury of the Bible supplied them.  These were young men ahead of their age in knowledge born of their connection to Christ through the Holy Spirirt.

As a result of Olaf Petri challenging the Roman authorities, the King Of Sweden accepted the protestant faith and not long after, the national assembly declared in favour.  Olaf Petri had already translated the New Testament into Swedish but the  King and the brothers embarked on translating the old testament into Swedish.  For the first time the Swedish people received the word of God in their own tongue.  Children in schools were taught to read the Bible.

Sweden became a leading light in the power of the reformation movement.  It was Sweden who assisted Germany in the "thirty years war" to free themselves from the tyranny of Rome.  This brought religious freedom to the remainder of Europe.

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