Monday, October 29, 2007

A Response to InternetMonk regarding Reformation Day

Caveat: I've never been a big fan of "Reformation Day," although I've been "Reformed" for a long time. I'm still not a big fan. I'm responding to InternetMonk not so much to disagree (though I certainly do at times) but to highlight some good points he makes, and to distinguish the good points from the bad. Source for this critique may be found here (link).

IM: "It’s fairly obvious that, at least among some Calvinists, “Reformation Day” is a new holiday to be celebrated with all the enthusiasm we once reserved for actual holidays."

Sadly, not just with the enthusiaism (which would be perfectly fine), but with the nearly mandatory requirements. "What? You're not having a Reformation Day Service? (or a Reformation Sunday sermon?) How dare you! Are you an enemy of the Reformation? Are you a friend of indulgences?" Those are not actual quotes, but the sentiment seems sometimes to swing that direction. That's not a good thing.

IM: "(Lutherans: Party on. You’ve earned it.)"

Many Lutherans are not that "Reformed" anyhow (when it comes to the celebration of holy days) ... I'm not sure adding a holiday of "Reformation Day" to their church calendar would change much.

IM: "I’m waiting for the photos of the “Dress Like a Reformer” party at a reformed church near you."

It's actually ironic but Reformed churches do hold such events (though typically more geared for the youth). It's a Christianization of some other holiday that happens to fall on the same day of the year - just the way that the equinox/solstice holidays were introduced into "Christianity." Or maybe Jesus and John the Baptist were really conceived and born at such a convenient ly preemptive time?! There's no historically documented reason to believe so.

IM: "I’ll admit to having donned the Luther costume and done the Reformation Day lecture for the students at our school on a number of occasions, and I don’t regret having done so. Most of what I said was true. Well….some of it."

Although IM is not reformed ...

IM: "In the past year, I’ve read a lot about the reformation and even more about Luther. I’m currently finishing off McGrath’s Christianity’s Dangerous Idea- a popular history of Protestantism that’s right up to speed- and I’m almost done with Richard Marius’s Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, one of the most profitable biographies of Luther I’ve ever read and I read at least one every couple of years."

Reading's good.

IM: "My reading on Luther and the Reformation has changed my mind about a lot of things. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but here’s the short list."

Like any good writer (and IM is a good writer), IM sums up the list nicely as follows:

Part of my Reformation Day will be spent contemplating what it means to say “One Lord; One Faith; One Baptism; One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.” Having a party celebrating the division of Christianity doesn’t really strike me as a something I want to do.

But of course:

A) If we wanted to celebrate the division, we pick the day that Trent voted to adopt its anathema against justification of the impious by faith alone;
B) Luther's 95 theses were about Reform not Breakaway; and
C) We celebrate the death of Roman tyranny over the Western church, not sectarianism - if we wanted to celebrate the latter we'd pick the date that the Eastern Orthodox counter-excommunicated the western church over the "heresy" of saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son rather than the Father alone.


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