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.
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.