"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Monday, October 29, 2007

I WILL celebrate Reformation Day!

[update: I do read and appreciate the Internet Monk on various issues, but I will echo John Adams critique of Thomas Paine in regards to the monk: He knows better what he is tearing down than what he wishes to build up.

And yes it does have a snarky tone, for that I apologize]

At another blog, the "internet monk," a Southern Baptist who is somewhat self-loathing of his tradition (Baptist) and his branch of Christianity (Protestantism) wrote a rather whiny post about how the Reformation wasn't all that great. I wanted to comment on a few of these whines:

(Internet monk in BOLD and me in ITALIC)

-I do not believe true Christianity was restored or rediscovered in the Reformation.

me neither. But when the questions were asked about "how am I saved?" the Catholic Church got it wrong. God saves us, not works or actions. God. The question had not been asked in quite the way Luther asked it in regards to Indulgences. Christianity T-ed at that moment in time, and so Reformed Christianity is about development from that point, not going back to some mythical time when everything was better like the 400s, the Nicene Council or the Acts church. So, fine. Have your realization that the Baptist/Restorationist reading of Church History is wrong. That doesn't make the Reformed/Lutheran/Anglican reading wrong...

-I’m convinced that it didn’t take long for Protestantism to accumulate enough problems of its own to justify another reformation or two.

Don't know what he means here as he thinks the first one wasn't all that necessary, but once it got going THEN we need to get back to somewhere...

-I now believe that "tradition" is a very good word.

Good for you. me too

-I believe we ought to grieve the division of Christianity and the continuing division of Protestantism.

Jaslov Pelikan (Lutheran theologian) called the Reformation a tragic necessity. So it will always be. Yet, the continuing division is not one sided. A mend could have happened if not for the negative reactionism of the Council of Trent.

-I can see huge omissions from the work of the reformers, such as a theology of cross-cultural missions and much more.

They didn't develop the Baptist theology of the alter call either, so did they not believe in responding to the gospel? Calvin was sending missionaries into France, who were dying by the dozen. Sorry he didn't develop missional theology but merely practiced missional obedience.

-I no longer believe Luther ever intended to slay the Catholic Church and establish the wonder of contemporary Protestantism.

sure he didn't. Are you new to the history of the Reformation? He wanted to reform the church, not kill it. Yet, we remember the corrupt Roman bureacracy did not want to reform, but continue to sell salvation and tax the poor and live like kings.

But here are some things I firmly believe about the Reformation:

There may never have been a Reformation if not for the doctrine of papal supremacy.

If the Catholic Church was less reactionary and corrupt, the church may never have split.

Catholicity is based on Christ, not on bureaucratic succession.

The Catholic Bureaucracy of the sixteenth century was not exibiting the signs of the true church: the gospel, ministry to the poor, right administration of the sacraments or the ministry of the word.

The Reformation was a tragic necessity, one where we mourn its necessity, not its theology.

So go ahead and mourn the Reformation, yet the mourning should be for the circumstances that necessitated it just as we mourn the death of Christ, not because of what it accomplished (that we celebrate) but because our sin demanded it.


M. Jay Bennett said...


This is an EXCELLENT post. For what it's worth (which ain't much), I'm going to publish a link to it right now.


Aaron said...

Agreed. I am rusty on my Luther but as I remember it he seemed to think he was defending the church and even the Pope for awhile. Old Internet Monk might want to brush up a bit with me. If anything Luther was naive. Who ever taught he wanted to slay the church? It is called the Reformation NOT the Revolution. That was not accident.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to celebrate Luther's virulent anti-Semitism, which fed the German imagination for 400 more years until..well, you know...inciting to violence and willing use by secular authorities, too?


Anonymous said...

This is one of the most juvenille responses I have ever read. There is no meaningful interaction. No graciousness in your words. No substance.

Grow up.

Jared Nelson said...

I think the point is that the Internet monk did not have much balance in his post. As a defense of the Reformation, equal time is not required. The post is FOR equal time. My point is that the original post neglected the fact that there was something called the Catholic church during that period in history and why the Reformers did what they did MUST be seen with what the Catholic Church was doing.

You can throw the sin card at anybody. Both sides do it with books about Papal Sin or Luther's later unfortunate comments. It just proves Total Depravity.

Aaron said...

The biography "Here I Stand" deals with this time of Luther's life well, if anyone cares about understanding. Bainton a lover of Luther said basically that he wished Luther had died sooner so he would never have said it. Also no "Here I stand" statement from Luther over that writing. He recanted it. That Jesus Christ was born a Jew is a nice little work by the younger only slightly saner Luther. This work implored Christians to not treat Jews with the kind of malice he believed he had received.

This got me thinking of that Nazi loving Lutheran Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Stinkin' Lutherans!

Matthew Bradley said...

It never ceases to amaze me how "brave" people are when posting anonymously. Cowards. It hardly takes any moral fortitude to share your name. And then (from behind the cowardice if anonymity) to tell someone else to grow up. All very entertaining.

Jared...Luther was more of a man than most of us will likely ever be, despite his sin and the fact that he was even (gasp!) wrong occasionally. Thanks for the link and the response.


Anonymous said...

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I love this list! :)