Reformation Day

From the ‘oldie but a goodie’ files…

The excerpt below is from a sermon given in 1995, by Stanley Hauerwas, “the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School”. The rest of the sermon can (and should, imo) be read at the linked site. The gist of the sermon is that the so-called “Reformation” was and remains, a terrible tragedy in the Church’s history–not something to be celebrated, as/on ‘Reformation Day’–even if one believes (as the professor-pastor delivering the sermon obviously does) in the major tenets of protestant-ism.

*I must begin by telling you that I do not like to preach on Reformation Sunday. Actually I have to put it more strongly than that. I do not like Reformation Sunday, period. I do not understand why it is part of the church year. Reformation Sunday does not name a happy event for the Church Catholic; on the contrary, it names failure. Of course, the church rightly names failure, or at least horror, as part of our church year. We do, after all, go through crucifixion as part of Holy Week. Certainly if the Reformation is to be narrated rightly, it is to be narrated as part of those dark days.

Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.

For example, I often point out that at least Catholics have the magisterial office of the Bishop of Rome to remind them that disunity is a sin. You should not overlook the significance that** in several important documents of late, John Paul II has confessed the Catholic sin for the Reformation. Where are the Protestants capable of doing likewise? **We Protestants feel no sin for the disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to confess our sin for the continuing disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to do that because we have no experience of unity.

In contrast, Catholics do not begin with the question of “How much do we need to believe?” but with the attitude “Look at all the wonderful stuff we get to believe!” Isn’t it wonderful to know that Mary was immaculately conceived in order to be the faithful servant of God’s new creation in Jesus Christ! She therefore becomes the firstborn of God’s new creation, our mother, the first member of God’s new community we call church. Isn’t it wonderful that God continued to act in the world through the appearances of Mary at Guadalupe! Mary must know something because she seems to always appear to peasants and, in particular, to peasant women who have the ability to see her. Most of us would not have the ability to see Mary because we’d be far too embarrassed by our vision.*

calledtocommunion.com/2009/10/stanley-hauerwas-on-reformation-sunday/

Very Interesting… thanks for posting it. Interesting to hear the comments on disunity.

Mary.

Thanks for sharing! Disunity is to me the saddest affairs in the Church today… Let’s join Jesus and pray with Him to the Father: ‘‘That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’’

Interesting post. Thanks.

I think that is the first time I have ever heard a protestant express remorse that the Reformation happened and the disunity that followed.
Thanks for the link. A wise man.

I can only agree with the pastor.

Jon

I agree, I pray for Unity at every Mass. God Bless, Memaw

Shockingly candid for a Protestant pastor. How many Protestant preachers could deliver a sermon like that and not create a scandal in his congregation? How many WOULD?

I truly think that the disunity of the Christian world has hurt Western Civilization in ways we can’t begin to fathom.

If we were TRULY all of one faith, maybe there would be less war; we would treat our fellow man better; we could relate to one another better; the needles of our moral compasses would point in the same direction. In other words… we would stop fighting each other and unite to conquer famine; war; and tyranny. And not to mention how much better our politicians would behave if a HUGE portion of the electorate were of one mind…

When and where does the “reforming” end?

Only God knows…

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: Excellent post!

well said. Yes, there would not be so much strife and hatred to our beliefs. I agree.
The catholic faith is the only one that has all of the truth, unfortunately, because of
apostates and lies spread by the media and people in general the truth has been
distorted and many have been misled.It is sad today that there is still so much that divides us instead of unite us.
We can’t deal with challenges unless we understand the tenets of what the faith teaches.

He’s not a pastor. He is a theologian, but has never served as a pastor.

Thank you. I stand corrected. However, I believe that the rest of my post remains true.

Fair point; I mistakenly identified him as ‘professor-pastor’ in OP as well. Don’t recall where I got that from; perhaps from cite that linked me to the one I linked. That even trips a sadder point about protestantism than the celebration of disunity–and that’s the fact that it took a theologian rather than a pastor to speak truthfully about the Reformation. He’s not dependent on his congregation hearing what they want to hear, to pay his bills; he’s a tenured professor, who can speak honestly about matters of Faith, with out the conflict of interest, such that his livilihood could suffer by speaking truthfully about the Reformation.

GREAT post.

&

BTW, here’s the link (and excerpt of the link) that referred me to the site I linked–from Patrick Madrid’s site–so you can see where the ‘pastor’ and ‘sermon’ thing came from.

patrickmadrid.com/a-protestant-ministers-unusual-sermon-on-reformation-sunday/

One Sunday, some years ago, I slipped into the back of a large Methodist church in my area to hear a sermon delivered by the pastor. It had been advertised for several days on the marquee on the lawn in front of the handsome neo-Gothic stone edifice. I really wanted to hear what he had to say that particular Sunday. Why that particular Sunday? Well, the occasion of his sermon was what Protestants celebrate as “Reformation Sunday,” in remembrance of the sad, tragic rebellion against the Catholic Church. Of course, that’s my take on what Reformation Sunday symbolizes. ***The pastor, whose sermon I heard that day, had a view of what happened in 1517 much different from my own. For him, it was the celebration of a glorious “triumph” of “the gospel” over “Rome.***” As you might imagine, those 30 minutes I spent standing in the back of that church packed with sincere, devout Protestants, were not enjoyable, but they certainly were instructive.

… All of that was brought to my mind recently when I read a much different sermon delivered years ago by another Protestant minister: Duke Divinity School professor, Stanley Hauerwas. He preached a startling message on the same subject — Reformation Sunday — but he came at it from a very different perspective: - See more at:

patrickmadrid.com/a-protestant-ministers-unusual-sermon-on-reformation-sunday/#sthash.GqcaNJxS.dpuf

FWIW.

I know Stanley Hauerwas personally, and he was one of my professors. He is not a pastor.

I would add that while Hauerwas is not a pastor or ordained minister, he has delivered a number of sermons over the years, so it is understandable that someone would assume that he is a Protestant minister.

What would those “major tenets” be and what makes you think Hauerwas believes in them?

The only point on which I am certain Hauerwas disagrees with the Magisterium is women’s ordination. When I was at Duke he was quoted as saying that he would become Catholic “if the Catholics would ordain his wife” (a Methodist pastor, though currently serving as “assisting pastor” at the Episcopal congregation Hauerwas also attends). His views on homosexuality are perhaps also not orthodox by Catholic standards, though he’s rather slippery and paradoxical on that one and tends to pick on both sides.

Methodists in general, let alone Episcopalians (Hauerwas is still, I think, formally Methodist but attends an Episcopal parish), can’t be counted on to line up behind the “central tenets” of Protestantism, at least if you mean sola fide and sola scriptura.

I think what Hauerwas would say, instead, is that he remains committed to Protestant communities. On the other hand, he said for years that he was committed to a specific Methodist community and made a big deal about it, only to start attending Church of the Holy Family some years ago (before 2008, when I last visited that parish myself).

In many ways his attitude to Catholicism is pretty similar to mine. In fact, he’s had a big influence on my over the years, even though I never studied with him (I did take a class with one of his former students when I was an undergraduate, which played a major role in getting me to rethink my ideas about the nature of the Church). And we now share the “ordained wife problem” (well, in my case, my wife is formerly ordained in the UMC and on the path to being ordained in the Episcopal Church). I suspect that for him, as for me, this isn’t an isolated issue but functions as a very practical, intimate reminder of how embedded we are in concrete relationships with Protestant people and communities. But I have never actually had a substantive conversation with him about these things.

Edwin

Contarini;12686317]

What would those “major tenets” be and what makes you think Hauerwas believes in them?

T***he only point on which I am certain Hauerwas disagrees with the Magisterium is women’s ordination***. When I was at Duke he was quoted as saying that he would become Catholic "if the Catholics would ordain his wife" (a Methodist pastor, though currently serving as “assisting pastor” at the Episcopal congregation Hauerwas also attends). His views on homosexuality are perhaps also not orthodox by Catholic standards, though he’s rather slippery and paradoxical on that one and tends to pick on both sides.

If he truly believed and meant this, your point would be well taken. But to my knowledge (correct me if I’m mistaken) he has not sought to become Catholic–(no RCIA, or such). He may like the Catholic Church; he may speak fondly of her…

He continues to reject her.

Whatever his ‘excuse’ is. Or rationale, or justification, if you prefer. Net result remains the same–he has rejected the Catholic Church.

Methodists in general, let alone Episcopalians (Hauerwas is still, I think, formally Methodist but attends an Episcopal parish), can’t be counted on to line up behind the “central tenets” of Protestantism, at least if you mean sola fide and sola scriptura.

This is news to me. My understanding is that SF & SS were the back bone and pillar of all protestantism. What then is the basis for Methodists and/or Episcopalians’ rejection of the One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded, if not the alleged error of ‘Romish’ failure to adhere to scripture, according to SF? Or of it’s allegedly flawed teaching on salvation vis a vis SF?

If not for SF & SS, what error does do these protestant sects find in the Catholic Church, that they should continue to reject Her en toto, and in stead have formed their own, separate, independent communities that compete directly with Her? For souls, no less?

Could it be something so petty (vis a vis the True Bride of Christ)–as women aren’t permitted to serve as priests???

Sounds like rationalization, plain and simple.

I think what Hauerwas would say, instead, is that*** he remains committed to Protestant communities***. On the other hand, he said for years that he was committed to a specific Methodist community and made a big deal about it, only to start attending Church of the Holy Family some years ago (before 2008, when I last visited that parish myself).

Still a an untenable compromise.

Reject the Bride of Christ…because you love communities of people who rejected her?

I completely understand the dilemma–as my wife is protestant–and I’ve known (and know) hundreds, if not thousands, of protestants whom I love dearly, and respect deeply–starting with my wife’s family. But I would not reject the Catholic Church–the Bride of Christ–out of ‘love’ for them, as that imo, would not be love at all, but appeasement, and vainly comprising Truth, for the sake of warm feelings. IOW, it would render that love false. Farce. Nullity. A superficial act of ‘kindness’, laced with malice, sold as ‘love’.

In many ways his attitude to Catholicism is pretty similar to mine. In fact, he’s had a big influence on my over the years, even though I never studied with him (I did take a class with one of his former students when I was an undergraduate, which played a major role in getting me to rethink my ideas about the nature of the Church). And we now share the “ordained wife problem” (well, in my case, my wife is formerly ordained in the UMC and on the path to being ordained in the Episcopal Church). I suspect that for him, as for me, this isn’t an isolated issue but functions as a very practical, intimate reminder of how embedded we are in concrete relationships with Protestant people and communities. But I have never actually had a substantive conversation with him about these things.

Edwin

He is clearly a deep thinking, intelligent man; as are many protestant theologians.

And as I stated above, I understand the dilemma; the conflicting forces.

But the Truth is simply non-negotiable. It is, what it is.

NB: I questioned my Faith; I opened my mind and heart to becoming protestant, if I could be convinced that it was True. Alas, the deeper I dug, the more confirmed I was in the Catholic Faith, and the Church as custodian of Truth (despite her flaws). I would have left the Church in favor of Truth, regardless of the pain, if Truth was to be found outside of her.

Seek Truth; find God.

Goya #1
Stanley Hauerwas, “the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School”:
“You should not overlook the significance that in several important documents of late, John Paul II has confessed the Catholic sin for the Reformation. Where are the Protestants capable of doing likewise?”

We have to realise that it is not “Catholic sin” in the sense of Christ’s’ Catholic Church – it is sins of Her members.

During the Great Jubilee year, Bl John Paul II issued a famous “apology” or act of contrition on behalf of the entire Catholic Church for the serious sins committed by its members over its almost 2,000 years of history.

In First Things (November 1997), Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote that “the Pope himself has acknowledged the mistakes and sins of Christians in connection with, among other things, the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of the Jews, religious wars, Galileo, and the treatment of women. Thus, though the Pope himself is careful to speak of sin or error on the part of the Church’s members or representatives, rather than the Church in its fullness, that important theological distinction is almost always lost in the transmission.” [My emphasis].

“And above all, let us remember what they are not: they are not apologies for being Catholic.”
leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9711/opinion/glendon.html

In reality, the Pope never apologises for the Church which is **‘held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy’ **[Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium, art 39]. [My emphasis].

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