Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reformation Sunday :- One Protestant Minister's Perspective

Believe it or not, I have spent most of my life as a Protestant, and I had no idea that there was a such thing as Reformation Day, until now. Reformation Day is the annual celebration commemorating the day when Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis, which most believe was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (or Protestant Revolt...depending on your view).

A friend of mine recently sent me an article that a Protestant pastor published regarding his thoughts on Reformation Day. Stanley Hauerwas is a Duke Divinity School professor and Protestant Minister. Some of his thoughts are below:

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.

...

I often point out that at least Catholics have the magisterial office of the Bishop of Rome to remind them that disunity is a sin. You should not overlook the significance that in several important documents of late, John Paul II has confessed the Catholic sin for the Reformation. Where are the Protestants capable of doing likewise? We Protestants feel no sin for the disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to confess our sin for the continuing disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to do that because we have no experience of unity.

You can read the whole sermon at Stanley Hauerwas on Reformation Sunday.

So what do you think? Is Stanley Hauerwas position regarding Refomation Sunday an accurate one? Is Reformation Sunday something that should be celebrated, or is it something that all Christians should look back on with shame? Are you still broken-hearted over the disunity within the Body of Christ - the Church? If not, why not? Is there still hope for reunification of the Church?

God bless...

9 comments:

luke said...

Just got linked to your blog from a friend and by this first post I already know I'm going to be a subscriber and frequent commenter. :)

If not broken hearted, I am at least disheartened. I am not shy about telling my Protestant friends that my strongest desire is that we all be reconciled to Rome, as I recently was. That being said, I was encouraged by the words you quote from Hauerwas phrasing the sin of disunity and noting JP's acknowledgment of the same.

In this vein of thought, I am also reading and following http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/

I try to live with our Protestant brothers and sisters in the way Christ desired - that we may be one. Thanks for the encouraging post on the subject!

Deborah said...

Luke.... Us protestants try to live with you too the way Christ desired. At least this one is trying. it's when the elitist, poor separated sister talk starts happening that us lowly protestants get irked.. It just shouldn't be that difficult since we all belong to the same God. It's when we are purposely separated that the problems start. Maybe we need to look beyond the original cause of the division and look to ourselves as Christ followers today and see why it still stands. I think there is alot more to it than "ya gotta come over to our side".... I really think it is a heart condition.

Belteshazzar Mouse said...

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."

Yes, it is sinful. I quote this not to assert Catholicism, but to assert that this broken Church is not the Church Christ had in mind.

So often we worry about many trival things (all of us) rather than furthering the Kingdom.

I do not pray about this enough. Reformation Sunday seems a good day to start.

Bless you Brothers and Sisters.

Carlus Henry said...

Luke,

Welcome, welcome, welcome!!!

I absolutely love your pic...is that from Easter Vigil? I can just see the excitement on your face, it is very powerful. When did you Cross the Tiber?

I try to live with our Protestant brothers and sisters in the way Christ desired - that we may be one.

Amen!!! That is one of the goals on this blog. I am asking that everyone openly discuss the differences in hope that we may all present ourselves as one Bride to Christ.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Deborah,

Luke.... Us protestants try to live with you too the way Christ desired. At least this one is trying.

I think that you are doing great ;).

It just shouldn't be that difficult since we all belong to the same God. It's when we are purposely separated that the problems start.

Yeah, I blame the Reformation as well... (kidding). However, I am curious what you mean by purposely seperate?

Maybe we need to look beyond the original cause of the division and look to ourselves as Christ followers today and see why it still stands.

I think that this is a valuable suggestion. At the same time, I think that there is so misinformation regarding the Reformation that we should also discuss those things as well. Especially because some of the theological differences that separate us today have it's source from the Reformation.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Everyone,

Belteshazaar Mouse said:

I do not pray about this enough. Reformation Sunday seems a good day to start.

Regarding praying for Christian Unity. Have you all ever heard of the Octave of Christian Unity? I heard something about it on Catholic Answers Live. Is anyone familiar with it?

luke said...

Deborah,

Do you find any talk of "brothers and sisters" to be elitist? I actually like the metaphor.

-L

Deborah said...

Last blog entry dated "November 3rd".... today is November 22.... just sayin' =)

Carlus Henry said...

Deborah,

Ouch...busted :)

My hope is to post something new this week....

God bless...