Tomorrow is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses against the sale of indulgences. I keep reading online about how tragic the Reformation was, how unneeded it is now, and how it’s wrong to celebrate the breaking up of the church.
But does anyone think that the medieval church did not need to be reformed? Can anyone say that the sale of indulgences was a good thing? Can anyone defend the corruption of the Renaissance popes–their selling of church offices, their bribes, their mistresses, their illegitimate children whom they made cardinals, their inquisitions, their wars? The great medieval authors–Dante, Chaucer, Langland, and many others–all criticized these abuses in the church.
Even the Roman Catholic Church came to admit these evils. Luther’s Reformation provoked the Counter-Reformation, which finally the moral and financial corruption. It also set in stone some theological issues that were not all that clear when Luther first proposed his reforms. [Read more…]