A reader remarks on Reformation Sunday

A reader remarks on Reformation Sunday October 26, 2013

She writes:

I had a bit of a thought regarding Reformation Sunday, which is rapidly approaching (it’s this Sunday), which I thought I’d share with you. This day saddens me greatly, as a day which marks the beginning of a deep wound to the unity of the Church.

Since I think prayer for Christian unity is something we could all be doing a lot more of, I thought this time of year might be rather appropriate. Obviously Sundays are not a day for fasting, so I was thinking it’d be great to encourage people to pray and fast for Christian unity particularly on the day preceding, this Saturday 26th October.

My initial thoughts were posted here:

Anyway, my point in writing to you is that you often share stuff from readers, and it would really be nice if it wasn’t just me praying, and I knew I had some company, so I thought it’d be a good way to spread the word a bit, if you think it worth sharing.

Thanks for great work you do for the Church. Your blog is great, and while I’m writing to you, I should probably let you know that your book Making Senses out of Scripture was really helpful to me when I started doing Scripture subjects in my Theology studies last year. So thank you!!

God bless your devotion!

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  • Rebecca Fuentes

    What a great idea! I was struggling over how to explain to some Protestant friends why I don’t see Luther’s rebellion as a day to celebrate (along with explaining why we trick-or-treat and why I don’t think a bit of the macabre is a bad thing). But this is a wonderful idea.

  • Athelstane

    It’s a bit ironic that this year, tomorrow is the Feast of Christ the King in the old Roman calendar.

  • quisutDeusmpc

    As a former Protestant, I remember giving a nod to “Reformation Day” on October 31st for the sake of the children at the instigation of their homeschooling mother. After having been received into full communion in the Church and reading Thomas Wood’s “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” on the rise of the university system in the 11th century and Patrick O’Hare’s “The Facts About Martin Luther” I learned that the posting of the 95 Theses on the Wittenburg Castle church door at All Saint’s Church, in and of itself was not that revolutionary. Wittenburg was a university town and the Augustinian monk Martin Luther was a “master” (professor) at the university. It was common for particularly difficult questions, or ones that had not been resolved in lecture to be debated later in something called a “Quaestiones Disputatae” (the equivalent of a panel discussion on a particularly vexing or controversial topic, complete with presentations, rebuttals, questions from the audience, etc). Where would one post one’s flyer to obtain maximum exposure in a university town during a time where it was expected that everyone would attend Church?…on the Church door. So the posting in and of itself was not controversial. One can imagine excited German students in awe of his controversial opinions and showing up just to see what would happen to him. The Archbishop did not himself attend Luther’s challenge or send a representative to do so. His theses were forwarded to Rome and he was called to account on a number of occasions with various representatives over a four (4) year period by the vice Chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt Johann Eck, as well as various papal legates including Cardinal Cajetan. Finally, in June 1520 he was addressed by Pope Leo X himself, in the papal bull “Ex Surge Domine”, which answered his contentions and warned that if he did not recant he would be excommunicated. Luther burned the bull in effigy before a drunken mob in December 1520. He was finally formally excommunicated January 3, 1521 with the papal bull “Decet Romanum Pontificem”. Then, as was the custom of that day, three months later he was called before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms where he was obstinately defiant and was declared an outlaw and a heretic. So as far as the Church was concerned, until Jan. 3, 1521 Martin Luther, OSA was an Augustinian monk among the faithful but as far as the Reformed/Lutherans are concerned the posting of the “95 Theses” calling for a “quaestiones disputatae” panel was the beginning of the Reformation.

    • Dave G.

      Well yeah. That was the pebble that started the avalanche. Most are aware that it wasn’t as if Protestantism in all its glory happened the next day. And it wasn’t the first time Luther spoke out about his concerns. That was just the one that caught, since it touched on things others were noticing. Remember, it wasn’t as if everyone thought that the Church was just hunky-dory fine and suddenly Luther went bat nuts and started the Reformation (I’ve heard that take on the Catholic side of the street – there were no problems with the Church, there were just a few misunderstandings). The Church had issues, and there were already folks beginning to ask questions. Luther just happened to be at the time and place with the particular questions for it to kick into gear. It went downhill from there. One of those escalation things.

  • Adam

    For what it’s worth, here are the reflections I will share with our church tomorrow:

    Today is Reformation Sunday- the day that the church
    remembers the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 theses on the door of the castle church
    in Wittenburg, Germany in 1517. This was a significant event in the early days
    of the protestant reformation.

    But why do we celebrate Reformation Day? Ultimately, we are not celebrating the boldness of men. We are celebrating grace. For hundreds of years before the reformation, the gospel of grace became increasingly shrouded by a doctrine of works and human tradition.

    The essential truth that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone had been all but lost. But Christ would open the eyes of his bride to look again on the beauty of free unmerited grace.

    The Reformers took up a Latin phrase to describe what was happening: “Post Tenebras Lux”—“After Darkness… Light.” And isn’t that all of our personal experience with grace? After darkness – terrible thick darkness – light.

    These words from Charles Wesley tell our story:
    “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in
    sin and nature’s night;

    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray— I woke,
    the dungeon flamed with light;

    My chains fell off, my heart
    was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

    • jroberts548

      “The essential truth that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone had been all but lost.”

      That’s simply not true. I have literally no idea why you would think that if you had ever honestly read anything about the medieval Church. Can you point to anything other than Lutheran polemics that supports your misreading of Church history?

    • quisutDeusmpc

      It is unfortunate that you will persist in perpetrating a fraudulent reading of the Gospel upon your denomination’s parish today. The Church has always held that the Gospel is by grace alone in Christ alone through faith (but a faith that is not alone. NOWHERE in the “Bible” are the words “faith” and “alone” used in the way that Protestants allege (Martin Luther inserted the word “alone” in his translation from the Latin into the German at Romans 3:28 – his HUMAN addition/tradition, which is not in the copies of the manuscripts that have come down to us through history). They ARE used side by side in only ONE place in the entirety of the sacred Scriptures (at James 2:24; by the way, because this verse is in James’s epistle, Martin Luther attempted to have the “book of James” removed from his Lutheran Bible because it presented an inconvenient truth that contradicted HIS “human tradition” of adding the word “alone” to his German translation of Romans 3:28). The Church does NOT teach “works righteousness”, and the Gospel has NEVER been shrouded by merely “human” tradition – “I will build my CHURCH, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”