Why Reformation Day is Dumb…

Reformation Day is Dumb.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve been wanting to say it for as long as I can remember.

As many of you recall, I just resigned my Presbyterian ordination back in April. It was not an “I’m angry at Evangelicals” decision. It was a deeper, more profound reconnection with the Catholicism of my youth. While I’ve not “taken the Tiber plunge” just yet, much of my system of Christian thought is now fully Catholic.

Now, some of you may be asking, “What the heck is Reformation Day?”

On October 31, Eve of All Saints Day, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses for debate on the church door at Wittenberg. It was sort of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, or rather, when a monkish debate became public. Luther saw (rightly) the rampant corruption in the Papacy, that had become mired in local political intrigue.

There is no doubt that the church needed a serious overhaul. Still, I’m always amazed at how people think Luther was a lone voice in the wilderness. That just isn’t so. Many voices in the church were rising against the sinful practices rampant in the church at the time.

So, as you might suspect, many modern Protestants consider this their “Christmas” and birthday all rolled into one. In recent times, celebrating Reformation day has been used to fight all the “evil” of Halloween. While I’m not going to get into that one, there is an article over at Biblical Horizons that really nails how Halloween’s origins lay in the church, not in some trumped up, pseudo historical paganism.

To this end, many evangelical Protestant churches hold “Reformation Day” parties where kids dress up as their favorite “Reformer” (no joke) instead of their favorite Avenger. Nothing wrong with that, really, but the attitude around it is something I find completely obnoxious and disturbing.

Why? The answer can be found in a conversation I was having with pastor (Protestant) friend of mine. We tried to figure out why Reformation day was so weird to us. He drank his coffee, and then said, “You know, I think I’ve got it, celebrating Reformation Day is like celebrating a divorce. Maybe it was necessary, but not something you really build a holiday around. And, I can’t help thinking that God isn’t a huge fan of what happened after the Reformation.”

I always find it interesting that my Protestant friends who go on about “The Bible Alone” tend to skip large parts about the passion God has for the unity of His people.

Jesus dedicates a long prayer to Christian unity and tells the disciples that, “All men will know you’re my disciples by the love you have for one another.”

Does this mean that the Protestant Reformers didn’t have a good reason for questioning the Church? No. In fact, as we’ve already discussed, they did. But, the way Protestant reformers go on about them is that NO ONE else was raising a voice against the excesses of SOME of the church leadership.

The problem is, the Reformers set a torch to an already volatile political situation. The early Reformers didn’t break from the church until the political pressure became too much. All of them did so with great reluctance and with sadness. Certainly, most of them didn’t celebrate it. They knew, deep down, they might have done more damage than good.

And in fact, in the past 500 years, the children of the Reformation have made separation and splitting not just a sport, but almost a biblically sanctioned sport. I’ve heard (and often said myself) arguments about how the many splits show the glory of God by giving us different points of view. While I used to buy into these arguments, I can’t any longer, because they seem to be profoundly unbiblical.

So, pardon me if I find the whole idea of Reformation Day absurd at best, and unbiblical at worst. As for my kids, they are going to mock death by getting candy and remembering their life is hidden in Christ.

Given that Martin Luther loved mocking the devil, I think he would be doing the same, and not going around dressing up as himself.

I’m sure this is going to spark conversation, so please weigh in below.

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out in April 2015

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com/ Paul T. McCain

    Cool story, bro.

  • Liz

    For me, Reformation Day isn’t a Halloween substitute. We’re still going to dress up and pass out candy (and yes, Luther would approve of some devil-mocking!) But this is a significant day in the history of the church and worth remembering. Yes, there have been many unintended consequences of the Reformation and we could speculate about how reform might have taken place without a break from the Catholic church. I’m a medieval historian, so I know God didn’t abandon his church from Augustine to Luther, as some protestants tend to think. But I love reading my Bible in English and knowing that my sins are forgiven in Christ alone, so I celebrate the Reformation.

  • Michael

    Painfully obvious here, but of course you think it’s dumb, you’re “fully Catholic.” If you now feel like you can speak for the Catholic Church or Presbyterians, that’s fine, but please don’t stereotype all Protestants and don’t speak for us. I’m Lutheran and we emphasize education. We understand our heritage and know all to well that there were other reformers. We understand that breaking from the Church at that time had serious political and social repercussions. (Who would want to be ostracized from society or worse be tortured and publicly executed by the Church hierarchy?) We can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to step out from under the iron clutches of the medieval Catholic church. A holiday yes, but like Memorial Day, and those who honor it take the time to remember the people who took a stand against an abusive, out of control, raging behemoth at the risk of being publicly tortured and burned at the stake. It’s a curious luxury to live in a democracy, that enjoys freedom and separation in religious matters, and make flippant commentary while sitting in a: padded, reformed, air-conditioned church pew. In that context, it’s pretty presumptuous to call reformers like: Wycliffe, Hus, Luther and Calvin unbiblical. I think it’s safe to assume that your denomination would not have been as attractive to you if it weren’t for these heroes of faith and their sacrifices.

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Once again, I’m pretty sure none of you really read what I was saying. No one ever said Luther, etc were being unbiblical. Second, there were no “iron clutches” of the medieval Catholic church. The historical picture was much more complicated. Let’s also not forget Protestants did their share of rampant murder or destruction, so let’s not go down that road.

      Further, I don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself. I’m not that arrogant. Just making observations, is all.

      • Michael

        I apologize for the length of this response, but please read to the end.
        “I’m pretty sure none of you really read what I was saying.” I did read what you wrote, comprehended what you implied and
        responded as you hoped.
        You wrote that Reformation Day is dumb. Technically a day
        can’t be dumb, only people can be dumb. So, the Protestant reader is left to conclude that you are implying that they, those who “celebrate” Reformation Day, are dumb. Dumb is an immature word used daily on a playground to injure another child’s feelings and instigate confrontation. You admit that this is going to spark conversation and encourage replies knowing that you’ve pressed buttons that will surely garner shares and likes on social media. We get it; you read a book on social media marketing.
        You wrote, “The early Reformers didn’t break from the church
        until the political pressure became too much.” My answer was basically “Duh.” I stand by what I said about the “iron clutches” of the medieval Catholic Church. They ruled the rulers and the people. There was no separation of church and state. They publically humiliated, excommunicated and burned people alive when they didn’t comply. It was a dark, evil time.
        Yes, there were factions of radical Protestants who “… did
        their share of rampant murder or destruction…” but that argument is mute as Luther and others publically rebuked them.
        In your reply you write that you, “… don’t claim to speak
        for anyone but myself.” Yet you did write, “… many Protestants consider this their ‘Christmas’ and birthday …” and that you’ve heard others say, “… the many splits show the glory of God by giving us different points of view.” I’ve never heard anyone say that or said it myself. In fact that’s a ridiculous observation. In the above statements, you are putting words in their mouth and
        making broad generalizations in their place. Sorry, no denying that.
        You write that “Certainly, most of them [Reformers] didn’t
        celebrate it.” I don’t make broad generalizations and speak for other Protestants as you do, but I don’t celebrate Reformation Day – I commemorate it. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) commemorates Reformation Day and Martin
        Luther is the prominent figure because he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
        Here is specifically why I chose to reply to your article:
        contrary to your opening statement, the article is obviously a product of your reconnection to Catholicism. Instead of writing a more interesting article about that decision, you write a divisive topical article published on Halloween basically poking your finger in Protestant’s proverbial eye. To my surprise, you had the nerve to complain that your Protestant friends skip “… the passion God has for the unity of His people.” and quote scripture that reads, “All men will know you’re my disciples by the love you have for one another.” yet after you switch to Catholicism you take a cheap shot at something Protestants hold very dear – the Reformation. Question, does your article unify and demonstrate love? On the contrary, your article demonstrates how easy it is to self-righteously cut and paste scripture into a blog, but harder to act in brotherly love. I do not hold your personal views and prejudices against my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lutheran Church still longs to have pulpit fellowship with the Catholic Church. I love you and pray for that day, but until then – here I stand.

        • Author Jonathan Ryan

          For some one who claims to love me, you sure do a poor job of showing it. You don’t like me (and you’ve never met me!) as is evident through the tone of both of your posts. So, let’s save the false piety and have a real discussion between two sinners, eh?

          First, for someone who is accusing me of being self righteous, you’re doing a pretty good demonstration of it by comparing me to a child who is looking to “poke people in the eye”. Provoking discussion and looking to piss people off are two entirely different things. I make no apologies for the title.

          Second, my leanings toward Catholicism actually have nothing to do with this article. I merely mentioned it so that everyone would know my bias in the interest of fairness. Not sure how that suddenly became a problem. As I made it very clear, I thought Reformation day was dumb, even when I was a full blooded Calvinist of the Scottish stripe. It made no sense to me then and it makes no sense to be now.

          Third, I’m sorry to say, everything I quoted happened in various conversations. You can believe me or not.

          And, as for Catholics killing Protestants, yes, it absolutely happened. Was there a corrupt papacy at the time? No doubt about it. But, it also happened on the other end as well. Are we really going to get into about who has killed more? Really? Let’s not be so naive about history and try to claim complete innocence. Our Christian theology doesn’t allow for such nonsense. In the medieval church, there was as much corruption, sin, horridness and so on as there is in the church today. It just happens to look different. I find that argument to be weird at best and totally incomplete at worst.

          • Michael

            I do like you and love believers. It is not false. I suspect you enjoy debate as much as I do although you have a nasty habit of projecting feelings and speaking for others. (I suspect this is not the first time you’ve heard that.) Please, if you change one thing in future blogs, re-consider projecting your feelings or speaking for others in broad brush strokes.
            I believe you heard people say those things. We’ve all heard people say stupid things. That doesn’t allow us to project those statements onto a broader stereotype.
            At this point, all I’m asking you for is to prayerfully re-read the blog and replies. You cannot write things like “… many Protestants think …”, and be taken seriously. I would never write “… many Catholics think …”. Don’t get angry, I’m trying to help you so we can move forward and reach pulpit fellowship. I love the Catholics!

          • Author Jonathan Ryan

            I’m not angry at your statements, just your presumption that you think think you know me.

            And yes, actually, that is the first time I’ve been told that. Many does not imply all or even the majority. Many Catholics think dumb things too. And?

            Further, as this is a blog where I’m paid to give broad opinions in the shortest amount of space possible, I’m going to continue to do above posts that provoke discussion. You’re more than willing to call them as you see fit. I’ll never delete or edit any of your responses. I don’t think the Reformation was dumb. I think Reformation Day is dumb. IF you can’t see the difference between the two, I can’t help you.

  • davend

    “Many voices in the church were rising against the sinful practices rampant in the church at the time.” True. And a vast number simply left.

    Take the time to read the Carmina Burana; people had been complaining about abuse in the church for hundreds of years. Absolutely nothing was being done.

  • David Jonathan Mello

    So the Reformation was important in history, but the day celebrating it is absurd? And at it’s worst it’s un-biblical, but Halloween somehow is better? Let whoever celebrate what they want, a holiday won’t change their standing with God. You’re a catholic, of course you think a day celebrating the reformation is dumb, and your article is legalistic.

    BTW, Praying to saints/Mary, having carved images in the church, and teaching justification by works is unbiblical.

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      I’m not sure you even read the article, David. First, I thought Reformation Day was dumb as a Protestant minister. Second, I have no idea how my article was legalistic. Third, Catholics don’t pray to saints or Mary. We ask them to pray FOR us. Further, the church doesn’t teach justification by works. See the Catechism.

      • KR Taylor

        You can’t ask dead people to pray FOR you, unless you are talking to dead mortal men. So you are just appealing to dead people to pray on your behalf, not praying for them. Do I have that right?

        • Author Jonathan Ryan

          “The Dead are invisible beings. They are not absent.” St. Augustine.

      • am

        Hi :) See my earlier comment (am) in semi-support of your article, but I have to interject in this particular aspect. I have many Catholic friends and have been to mass several times, as well as weddings and funerals. My friends were definitely praying TO saints and Mary etc (which is literally what a prayer is: a conversation). This is the way they explained it to me as well. I don’t find anywhere in the Bible where it suggests that we need a middle man to pray for us, forgive our sins etc. I believe we are to pray to God alone, and He alone can forgive our sins. But again, no disrespect, and I don’t feel disrespected by your opinions either :) I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for people who are supposed to be known “by the love” we share, to have a simple discussion without getting hyper-defensive and psycho. :/ Thanks again Jonathan for the discussion. Sorry it got ugly from some people! Oh, before you posted the request to ask permission to share the link to your blog, I shared it with my entire Medieval History class :(( I’m so sorry! Can I have retro active permission?! lol It was perfect timing because we were talking about the general time period; and my instructor loved the blog and discussions so much that she opened a discussion for our class to chime in in response! It’s a closed-door discussion on our class website so it’s not all over the web or anything. I didn’t even think about asking first! Sorry again!

  • am

    I love these discussions! I am trying to embrace listening to all points of courteous, informed view; and that this doesn’t mean watering down my own beliefs. I agree with Jonathan about the unfortunate splits that happen in the global church. First Church of the “pink carpet” vs First Church of the “blue carpet” caused from a business meeting gone “Jerry Springer.” I grew up in church and saw this my entire life. I hate that God’s people act like this. It hurts God and His reputation in the eyes of the world He died to save. While I believe the Reformation was entirely necessary, I agree that many Reformers may have been brokenhearted AND terrified. I would implore my fellow believers of any denomination to disagree in love; and “in your anger, sin not.” (Apostle Paul) Or, put another way: Play nice. You’re going to spend eternity in Heaven together. You may as well get used to each other now. :)

  • Lutheran Frat Boy

    I appreciate the earlier commenter who compared Reformation Day to Memorial Day. When properly observed, this day is about recognizing the essential work that Martin Luther and the Reformers did in forcing the church to recognize the fact they it had run astray of its true purpose.

    Of course Martin Luther and his contemporaries were not the first to have these ideas. However, thanks to advances in printing technologies, supportive leaders in the secular governments, and sheer timing they were actually able to gain traction and make a lasting difference. We should praise God that he used these men at this time to make this happen.

    A fantastic quote I picked up from one of my friends: As Lutherans, we want nothing more than to have the catholic church reunited. Rome is almost there, they just have a few more of our reforms to put in place.

    Yes, it is wrong and the sad state of our sinful world that Christians divide the church and (as you correctly pointed out) make sport of it. However, unity for the sake of unity is just as wrong, if we uphold incorrect doctrine. St. Paul spent his career unifying the church by reforming those early church leaders who had misinterpreted doctrine and casting out those who refused to yield. Until God’s work in this world is complete, we must do the same.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ the Old Adam

    We Lutherans don’t have a problem with Halloween. We have it. So lets enjoy it.

    But we also remember the great things that came out of the Reformation and the return to getting the gospel right. And the criticizing of un-Christian practices such as paying money for forgiveness…either for yourself or others.

  • Andrew Taylor

    Quite sloppily done, Mr. Ryan. You offered no real argumentation at all, and then compounded the problem with strawmen and bait and switch antics. I responded to this on my blog. Just a heads-up, I wasn’t very nice.

    http://lutherftw.blogspot.com/2013/10/reformation-day-isnt-dumbbut-your-post.html

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      I’m going to disregard your breach of blog etiquette by posting a link to your blog without permission because your post gave me a good laugh. Thanks.
      But, for the record, I never intended this article to be a close, reasoned and fully documented argument. The title is hyperbole and obviously done to provoke conversation. Mission accomplished.

      As for being a clown, I fully embrace that I’m a “divine fool”. So, what you meant as in insult, I wear with honor. In case you didn’t notice, we’re a bit cheeky around here. I’ve actually got a picture of me as a kid in a clown outfit. Would you like it?

    • stegokitty

      Andrew, Thanks for your post, and blog.
      You basically said what I was thinking as I read this article.

  • Paul McDonald

    If I remember correctly, the Bible said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” That’s it. So many churches and denominations focusing on splitting hairs and getting into heated debates is what the devil enjoys. He enjoys seeing Christians become ineffective through distraction and isolation. I found the possibility that Martin Luther was saddened by having to break away from “the Church” to be an interesting point of view. We are all children of the King, and I’m sure our Father is saddened when we fight and disagree all the time. Much like when I, as a father, feel when my own children seem unable to get along. So many people from a reformed background see “Catholic” and throw the baby out with the bathwater. As if they are the ones who determine who is or is not a Christian. Jesus came to call and invite and welcome all, and many current-day Pharisees hold a stick up and say, “You must be this tall to ride this ride. You have to believe this doctrine or abhor this tradition in order to get to Heaven.” Look up John 10 for what Jesus has to say about others who think they are the Gate.
    Many of the churches I grew up in held Reformation services, so that the kids could dress up without being called satanic. Dress up, get candy, but it’s about the Reformation, not Halloween. Isn’t that the same thing many Christians get upset about at Christmas time, when people call a Christmas tree a holiday tree?

    • Lutheran Frat Boy

      “Jesus was a cool guy. I believe he was a cool guy. Not sure whether he was divine or not… but hey, let’s not split hairs here.”

      So, that is enough to be saved?

      Doctrine matters.

      • Paul McDonald

        Not sure if the quotes were meant to be what I said, but I’m not actually sure how much doctrine does matter, to a point. I guess it depends what you want to call doctrine. Jesus is God–not really doctrine or open to opinion, since the Bible says it so many times. My whole point was that many critics of the article seem to be crying about Jonathan bashing on their hero, Martin Luther, but I don’t see that to be the case at all. If I think Martin Luther was sad about posting his 95 theses and you think he was happy doesn’t mean we aren’t on the same side. Yet many Christians treat other Christians as if they are the enemy. Who really cares what hymnal you use, what color the church carpet is, or if women preach a sermon? You think God’s power is limited by that? You think that it actually matters that much? Yet we want to bash in other believer’s heads because they don’t see the exact same God as me. Enjoy your ivory towers and doctrinal discussions. I just love seeing God’s power move in people’s lives, and thankful that He has chosen me.

  • Ian Carmichael

    I thought your main point was about the importance of unity. Good. I thought your subtext was about creating controversy. I thought this contended too loudly with the main point. Anyway, thanks for a little to think about. But I reckon I’ll weigh out.

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Controversy? Well, yes, that is kinda the point of the blogosphere. Very obviously, I used hyperbole to make a point. That’s part of the fun, really. Yet, it wasn’t meant to be mean spirited by any means.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ the Old Adam

    Here’s why Reformation Day is great:

    http://theoldadam.com/2013/11/01/this-sermon-epitomizes-the-work-that-came-out-of-the-reformation/

    Good stuff. I’ll bet you never really heard anything like it before.

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Once again, I would ask that you all ask permission before posting links. Thanks.

  • Author Jonathan Ryan

    Just a note for a commentators, I would ask that you seek permission before posting any links. I’m going to grant it, but it’s a matter of common courtesy. Thanks.

  • Taylor Clark

    Jonathan, good article. Obviously, I disagree with your views overall as a Catholic, but still love you as a brother in Christ (which you certainly are). Oh, and you’re cool as cucumbers.

    I enjoyed the article thought it was very thought provoking and cheeky. And it reminds me of my baptist upbringing where we would do “fall festivals” to “battle the evils” of Halloween. Well, now I am grown. And last night we took my son trick or treating, in which he dressed as a fireman, and then we came back put him to bed and watched the conjuring. Oh, how far I have fallen….my mother is making intercessory baptist prayers as we speak.

    Quit knocking the article, guys. This is a solid dude.

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Thanks, buddy, much appreciate. But, this article doesn’t really have to do with my Catholic leanings. I just mentioned that so everyone knows my bias.

  • Author Jonathan Ryan

    I gotta ask, was this post put on some Missouri Synod discussion board? Yeesh, I think you all have had too much beer.

    Further, I also want to point out that my leanings toward Catholicism actually have very little to do with the content of this post. For those of you who read closely, you saw that I thought Reformation Day was dumb as a protestant minister as well as I do today.

    • Michael

      And now you wish to hit us on the arm, tell us to lighten up and to add injury to insult you add a condescending Lutheran beer reference – classy! For your information, LCMS members are traditionally well educated and have a working knowledge of our faith and theology. I am perfectly capable of forming my own opinion without a consensus on a discussion board thank you.
      Further, you can stand on the corner and scream, “I just switched to Catholic, but that’s not why I’m bashing the Reformation.” all day until you’re hoarse, but it’s painfully obvious to everyone so stop writing that.
      
Lets imagine that I just switched my membership from Catholic to Lutheran. I then publish an article titled “Why (insert Catholic specific commemoration) is Dumb” in which the opening line is, “I’ve been wanting to say it for as long as I can remember.” I get it, and from the other replies I’m not the only one. You thought Reformation Day was dumb when you where a Protestant, but you wrote the article when you became a Catholic. Admit it, you want to suck up to the cool kids on the Catholic playground by beating up the dumb Protestants. Be a man, own it. C’mon. We’ll still love you.

      • Author Jonathan Ryan

        Um, I must have missed the memo. When did Catholics become the cool kids on the playground?

        And you really need to acquire a sense of humor, man. My suggestion is that you read Martin’s works, especially the parts where he tells the devil to kiss his ass, etc and so on.

        I’m sorry, I thought Lutherans took pride in their beer drinking. My mistake. Maybe it was all the German sausages? No?

        And, the Lutheran discussion board was having a laugh at how many Lutherans responded to this post. No one else really did, not even my friends who are Presbyterians. Strangely, none of them took offense to what I said above.

        I’m perfectly secure in manhood, otherwise, I never would have posted this. I’ve admitted my bias to the world. I got nothing to hide.

        • Michael

          I just noticed that these comments had up and down voting. It’s a popularity thing! That’s why you’re jabbing Protestants right before Reformation day. Duh, I confess I’m a little slow, naive, and take things a tad serious. After reading the German sausage jab it finally soaked in. Got it, check.
          Whew. This is fun! OK, so we’re cool if I tease you about Catholic scandals? So who are we getting next? Let’s do Mormons! “Why Polygamy is So Dumb”. That should get alot of upvotes, shares and likes. I know – do it right before Mother’s Day! (PS Do you get paid for upvotes?)

          • http://www.authorjonathanryan.com Jonathan Ryan

            As you’ve not hear me the first four times I’ve said this, I’m wondering why I should waste my breath saying it again. I’m not jabbing Protestants. At all. Only a very willfully ignorant person could think otherwise. So, your accusations to popularity are a bit silly. When I said I get paid by Patheos to stir up discussion, that was a simple truth. I stir up discussion on things I’m passionate about and think are important. I don’t “jab” people for the sake of jabbing. Nor am I out for “popularity, likes or shares”.

            Scandals?? Ummm, now I know you’re drunk and ranting. No one was talking about scandals here.

          • am

            Michael, I would strongly implore you to take a step back, consider the POSSIBILITY that the author may not have malicious intent, and please remember that there are people reading this discussion who have no idea about the Reformation, denominations and their different beliefs. What they DO have plenty of experience with, is “church people” fighting and being disrespectful to each other and everyone else. To quote a pastor friend of mine, “The reason most people don’t go to church – is that they’ve been to church.” I’m not attacking you. I’m simply asking you to consider being less abrasive, even if you feel justified. It is completely possible to disagree without, forgive me, freaking out. You may not have meant it this way, but it could be interpreted that you love your denomination more than you love your fellow believers. :/ I would like to remind everyone, my own staunchly denominational family included, that there were no such divisions when Jesus walked the Earth. In fact, in my belief, all gentiles were on the “outside” until Jesus opened the door for us. But that’s probably a whole other discussion :) Again, I’m not attacking you or trying to upset you :)

          • Michael

            I’m not upset at all. I am guilty of being naive.
            As soon as I noticed the up/down vote nature of this blog and the authors comment that, “… as this is a blog where I’m paid to give broad opinions” and, “[Controversy] … Is kinda the nature of the blogosphere.” I realized that I had been played. I am not paid to respond, influenced by votes, likes or shares; the nature of my replies were not to incite controversy. The combination of the timing of the post, a Catholic author and the words “Reformation” and “dumb” generated the desired effect and unfortunately, I took the bait hook, line and sinker. I didn’t get it until the author’s reply with the beer and sausage comments.
            There were divisions in Jesus time, even among the very Apostles that walked with Him daily, witnessed His miracles and sat at His feet during the sermon on the mount. Paul also wrote letters of correction to the first generation of believers in churches he directly founded.
            But, you are correct, that’s another discussion.

          • Author Jonathan Ryan

            Um, I’m not sure how you got “taken”, as I’ve been very honest at my intent and the nature of this blog. It is not my fault you don’t understand how basic editorial journalism works.
            When I said I get paid to draw people to Patheos, that is the honest truth and its the truth for the Internet across the board. Yes, I’m paid to develop conversation. Yes, I’m paid to get attention. However, that does NOT mean I don’t mean EVERY WORD I wrote above. Sure, the title is proactive, and that’s kinda the point. Still, I stand by it, Reformation Day is dumb. The problem is, you took that mean me saying, “The Reformation was dumb” which I didn’t say at all. In fact, I feel the opposite in many ways.
            Further, the voting system has NOTHING to do with anything other than to show what people like or don’t like. Again, I wish you would read what I actually say.

          • Michael

            As a previous Sr. Graphic Designer for an insurance
            company’s in-house marketing department, I fully understand how editorial journalism works. For over 20 years I worked closely and successfully with many writers and editors who held advanced degrees in Journalism. What I don’t understand is how online blogger/columnists work, but I am getting a crash course.
            You say you are not sure how I got “taken”, so let me explain. I picked up this post from a Facebook feed, registered on Patheos, and made my comment. I didn’t understand (my fault) that you are paid to draw people to Patheos, or that the intent was to get Facebook shares/likes, tweets, emails, etc. While you were honest about your intentions in later replies, I was naïve to that when I first replied. (Again, my fault.) For me, this understanding would have deterred me from commenting.
            You mention Christian unity in the column and that Protestants, “… tend to skip large parts about the passion God has for the unity of His people.” I’ll admit that the LCMS errors harshly on the side of caution regarding pulpit fellowship and interfaith worship. There are denominations that casually turn a deaf ear to doctrinal differences in the name of unity. We do not. Today’s society seeks inclusiveness, moral relativity and universal religion. Truth is Jesus said, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” A recent reply to my comments told me that there were no divisions when Jesus was here on earth. Truth is, the Bible documents that the disciples argued with other groups, the Pharisees, the public and even among themselves. During one argument they get rebuked directly by Jesus. The Jewish Christians opposed Paul; Paul rebuked the Galatians; Paul rebuked Peter.
            In his homily titled “The Happy Priest – Why Does Jesus
            Cause Division?” Fr. James Fargaglia’s writes, “To be Catholic means that we embrace the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church without tearing out the pages that
            we do not agree with.” He sums it up with, “The answer is clear. Only Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Only in the name of Jesus can we find eternal salvation. We all have a choice to make.” (It can be found in it’s entirety on catholic.org.)
            From what I’ve read in your profile, you have a history of
            being an advocate for encouraging dialogue between Protestants and Catholics. That is commendable and displays character. It also creates more confusion
            for me as to why you wrote this particular column, on this particular subject and published it on All Saints Day. For the life of me, I still don’t understand how Protestants setting aside a day to honor the Reformation would even be on a your radar, let alone devote a blog to it. One comment said it was “cheeky” and that’s probably how you intended it and how I should have received it. I don’t know, but as a protestant/Lutheran, I took it differently. Personally, it would never cross my mind to write a blog that discussed a Catholic holiday, tradition, observance or celebration. Frankly, you couldn’t pay me to do it.

          • am

            The divisions I was speaking of were DENOMINATIONAL. The point I made was that there were no denominations made by Jesus. Humans did that when we couldn’t get along, just like here. I have no problem with Christians disagreeing in public or disagreeing at all. I love a good discussion as well. But I am fully capable of having a conversation with someone of differing beliefs without getting nasty, losing passion for my own beliefs, or dragging them through the mud. You are so defensive and attached to your denomination, but do you think that after the way you’ve conducted yourself here that an outsider would want to come into your church and sit beside you? I wouldn’t, I’m sorry. But since you’re not interested in unity I guess you don’t mind that.

          • Michael

            I am defensive. A fellow christian published a provoking and divisive article to incite protestants – specifically Lutherans.
            I should ask – why weren’t you mad? In your syncretism of “play nice” and “get along” you’ve lost your fire. You are neither cold or hot, you are lukewarm.
            In one of his replies, the author wrote, “Controversy? Well, yes, that is kinda the point of the blogosphere. Very obviously, I used hyperbole to make a point. That’s part of the fun, really.” I personally didn’t think the article was much fun.
            Yes, I am attached to my denomination. We profess scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone – and we don’t kiss rings.
            You asked, “… do you think that after the way you’ve conducted yourself here that an outsider would want to come into your church and sit beside you?” I would answer that an outsider would never be so rude as to come into a Lutheran church, sit next to me, and say:
            • Reformation Day is Dumb
            • celebrating Reformation Day is like celebrating a divorce
            Sadly, a fellow Christian felt very comfortable doing it. By the way, the divorce analogy was pretty insensitive too. It’s like an abusive husband being mad because his ex-wife celebrates the day she finally got the courage to leave him.
            The author isn’t interested in unity. Please remember, I didn’t write a blog about how a Catholic day of remembrance is stupid and publish it a day before their celebration. I would never do that – but this author did. He thought it would be “… part of the fun.” I felt it was in poor taste, divisive, and lacked class. Yet, you are pleasant with him and rebuke me. If getting along, unity and being nice is foremost to you, I wish you luck.

          • Author Jonathan Ryan

            Somehow, Michael, you keep missing the part where I thought Reformation Day was dumb as a Protestant. Further, you are accusing me of a lot of things of which you have no proof. I’m sorry that you seem to have lost you’ve seem to have lost all reason and proportion. Oddly, many of my Protestant friends agreed with me on this article as well. This was not an “attack a Lutheran” article. Not in the least.

          • Author Jonathan Ryan

            And, once again, Patheos pays me to incite discussion and draw people to the site. That still doesn’t meant I believe every word I wrote above.
            So, you are either ignoring everything I’m saying or you just want to continue to play the “poor me, I’m persecuted” card. Either way, I’m done with this conversation.

          • Author Jonathan Ryan

            I don’t mind a good argument. Nor do I think it’s a bad thing for Christians to disagree in public. What I take issue with is character assassination and completely misrepresenting my positions, which Michael has done on numerous occasions.

  • Zach W. Lorton

    Having grown up exclusively outside of denominations, I think what happened that sparked people to remember Reformation Day was important. Yes, while only some of the church leaders were being questioned regarding their methods, I think those few need to be questioned from time to time. I think people who are viewed as leaders in the religious community have to understand that people will dissent for various reasons, including reasons based on the word of God.

    I’ve never celebrated Reformation Day — I don’t think it’s a holiday. And it certainly isn’t a substitute for Halloween. But without it, the way we worship, congregate, and connect with others outside our faith may not be what it is today.

  • George

    Probably we will value more Reformation Day when we review the origins of democracy (www.protestant-alliance.org).


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