Reformation Day (and Response)

Since I’ve already seen it shared this week on Facebook and Twitter by friends and former students, I might as well join the fun and mark this 496th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” by posting “The Reformation Polka” — a music video that my friend Sam Mulberry and I made several years ago for Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture course.

As the comments at our YouTube page make clear, the wounds of the Reformation have not entirely healed with the passing of centuries. And I’ve got my own ambivalence about being a spiritual descendant of Luther and Protestantism; the last thing Sam and I intended with the “Polka” was to valorize Protestantism or belittle Catholicism.

So as a counterpoint, let me encourage you to read Stanley Hauerwas’ Reformation Sunday sermon from October 1995. (H/T Francis Beckwith) A sample passage:

Stanley Hauerwas
Stanley Hauerwas – Duke Divinity School

Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.

One thought on “Reformation Day (and Response)

  1. The sin of disunity. Failure of reconciliation. Brokenhearted over our division. Your discernment can best be answered with Jesus’ analyical summary, You strain out the gnat but swallow the camel. The Reformation finaly “succeeded” because a worldly wise prince saved Luther from getting murdered by his bishop! Jon Hus and Savonarola were equally as genuine and righteous as Luther but they went to the stake. The institution that Catholic church became blended moral authority with the power of the sword. The corruption of the church could not be exposed for fear of death.

    The Catholic church only began to regain its spiritual authority when it no longer had the power of the state behind it. Protestant state churches withered to because of this. They also didn’t mind burning AnaBaptists either.

    Better a church divided seeking to be the Body of Christ than a united one sufficated by a putrid prison of lies and delusion – where prophets are murdered.

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