I believe the need for the Reformation, which began on this day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Church of All Saints, continues today.
It continues on at least two fronts. First, the need for the Reformation continues because the Roman Catholic church has never turned from its rejection of the Christian doctrine of justification by faith alone. (You can learn more on this doctrine here, which is one of the first articles I wrote when I started learning about theology.) I say this respectfully, because I know that there are many solid Christians within the Roman Catholic church. I don’t want to offend. At the same time, there are real differences between the Protestant and Catholic churches which must not be ignored or minimized.
Second, the need for the Reformation continues in that it reminds us that all Christians everywhere are to stand up against tyranny in all its forms. Martin Luther stood up against the spiritual tyranny of his day. Spiritual tyranny continues today as well (in Protestant churches as well as non-Protestant). It occurs any time a spiritual authority sets itself up as lord over another person and claims to be a ruler over their life — whether explicitly or, as is more common, implicitly by requiring obedience to rules and traditions that are not taught in the Bible. As Luther pointed out, such actions are contrary to the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, as well as sola Scriptura and the primacy of Scripture over human rules and tradition. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and Scripture always trumps tradition and human requirements.
There are many other forms of tyranny as well, such as the tyranny of corrupt political and law enforcement systems in the developing world which perpetuate injustice against the poor for the sake of their own material gain. These forms of tyranny are to be opposed by Christians as well, because Christians care about all suffering and all distortions of God’s work. In my view, there are many organizations doing an excellent job here (such as International Justice Mission), and we have much hope for continuing progress in the years ahead.
In sum, the Reformation is a call for all Christians to (respectfully and appropriately) stand up against tyranny in all forms, wherever they encounter it. It is also a call to use our critical judgment to become educated and think for ourselves, recognizing that we all have a responsibility to ensure that leaders both within the church and without are truly leading according to what is right and true.