Tomorrow for Protestants, and others who observe it, is Reformation Sunday. A day when we celebrate a rather grumpy depressed and frustrated Augustian monk who nonetheless had a sense of earthy humor that nailed his thesis on the collective butt of the Roman Church. Luther was a product of his time and sadly his anti-Semitic writings, which reflected the hatred of the Jewish people by many who claimed to be Christian during his time were used by the Nazis many centuries later.
Luther could not have done what he did without the help of the German Princes who had been looking for sometime to throw off the yoke of another Prince who happen to be the Bishop of Rome! There had been other reformers who met with a martyrs death becuase they did not have the backing of a politician or two let alone powerful rulers. One was the Czech Reformer John Hus who was burned at the stake for giving Communion in both forms to the Laity!
But beyond the changes in the structure and nature of a religious institution Luther came to represent what is of utmost importance was the idea of the inviolate nature of an informed conscience. This truly radical idea would gain the support of a movement which would ultimately bring about the belief in a constitutional principle of government and a respect for the rights of minorities!
Theologically the Reformation’s cry of “Sola Scriptura” would ultimately be perverted into the deification of the ego and the rejection by so called “evangelicals” of the inherent nature of faith as a communal reality as well as one of personal decision. The ethos of the Gathering of the Followers of Jesus is ever Reforming and ever Catholic, ever Faithful and ever Radical now and forever Amen+
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