document that launched the Reformation—the movement that ended the
monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church over western Christianity. Luther
and others—John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, John Huss—engaged in fierce
theological debate with champions of church authority. The fundamental
question was this: can an individual armed with facts and justice contradict
the teachings and policies of the church? The Reformers insisted the Bible
is a higher authority than its interpreters. They pledged higher loyalty to the
people than to the ecclesiastical system that claimed supreme authority.
Today, if we are to carry forward the work of the Reformation, we will give
greater devotion to real, live human beings than to the church systems that
claim to serve those people. We will distinguish between the claims of
church institutions and truth. We will give higher honor to truth.