Reformation Sunday Reflection

Yesterday I had the pleasure of celebrating Reformation Day at a wonderful inner-city Anglican church in Melbourne, St. Matt’s Prahan, speaking on Rom 3:21-26.

Its a great day to get your Luther on, unleash your inner Calvin, channel some Bucer, reconnect with your “sola” power panels, thank God for Tyndale, and play with your Ridley and Latimer action figurines. But such a day does lead to a question or two. Is Reformation Sunday a bit like commemorating a divorce, vindicate the violence between Protestants and Catholics, reinforce old prejudices, rent further apart the already fractured body of Christ, become an exercise in Roman Catholic bashing, and Anabaptist drowning?

I like to think of myself as an “evangelical catholic,” see Kevin Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine, for what I mean on that, in sum, it means that theology belongs to the whole church, and this theology is centered on the evangel, the gospel.

For me, Reformation Sunday is not about celebrating our separation from Roman Catholicism, such a rupture is an occasion for grievance, its a day we remember that our ecclesial parents are at times very naughty and misguided people. But, more positively, Reformation Sunday is about celebrating the reform and renewal of the church by the recovery of the gospel of the ancient catholic faith.

Reformation Sunday is the day that the true Catholics celebrate the faith once for all delivered to the saints by its vibrant rediscovery in the European Reformation(s). In that sense, celebrating Reformation Sunday is one of the most catholic things one can do!

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