Any observant vacationer to Germany this yr would discover that the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation means a terrific deal to the nation. Scores of educational conferences, public lectures, publications, and museum exhibitions are dedicated to rediscovering the fascinating world and figures of the Reformation period, in addition to its cultural, nonsecular, and political legacies in Europe and past.
Regardless of all this, nevertheless, few in Europe see the relevance of the Protestant Reformers’ theological and religious imaginative and prescient for right now. Many dismiss their doctrinal and ecclesial agenda as a mask for furthering the political and financial pursuits of power-hungry royalty (or, unintentionally, of zealous peasants).
Others blame the Reformation for main Europe into divisive wars and struggle with disastrous and abiding social penalties. Most Europeans view the Reformers’ beliefs as illiberal, passé, and petty.
With few exceptions, Europe’s church buildings roughly agree. To advance ecumenical relationships with Catholics, the EKD will formally commemorate the anniversary as a Christusfest (pageant of Christ) quite than rejoice it with the label “Reformation.”
There’s a little trigger for celebration anyway, as most church buildings have lengthy deserted—or, at the very least, considerably revised—the Reformation’s core doctrines: Sola Scriptura, sola gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. Whereas the Roman Catholic church nonetheless formally rejects Scripture alone, European Protestant church leaders and college theology school now place the authority of human purpose, the claims of upper criticism, and particular person conscience over Scripture. Grace alone is of little consequence in an age when ministers decrease sin and maximize humanity’s inherent goodness and free will.
It seems Erasmus received the talk with Luther over the bondage of the desire in any case. Religion alone and Christ alone have been changed by the supposedly humbler positions of “We don’t know” and “Many paths result in God.” And soli Deo Gloria is the forgotten sola, recognized in Germany right now solely by the SDG inscribed underneath Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions.
Even the majority of Europe’s evangelicals and free church buildings (i.e., these with out ties to the state) see little use for the theology of the Reformation.
The Reformers’ quest for biblical and religious depth has been substituted for deep anti-intellectualism and shallow experientialism.
Ministers have largely traded the Reformers’ emphasis on the Christ-centered preaching of the Phrase for theater performances and moralistic tips, and the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers has warped into therapeutic individualism. Our prayer is that the identical nice God who sparked the Reformation 500 years in the past would renew post-Christian German-speaking Europe, in addition to many different areas across the globe.