Reformation is Sin


#1

A SERMON FOR REFORMATION SUNDAY
29 October 1995
by Stanley Hauerwas

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 no 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, note what the Reformation has done for our reading texts like that which we hear from Luke this morning. We Protestants automatically assume that the Pharisees are the Catholics. They are the self-righteous people who have made Christianity a form of legalistic religion, thereby destroying the free grace of the Gospel. We Protestants are the tax collectors, knowing that we are sinners and that our lives depend upon God’s free grace. And therefore we are better than the Catholics because we know they are sinners. What an odd irony that the Reformation made such readings possible. As Protestants we now take pride in the acknowledgement of our sinfulness in order to distinguish ourselves from Catholics who allegedly believe in works-righteousness.

Unfortunately, the Catholics are right…


#2

The heretics and schismatics of the Reformation did in fact lead to reform within the Catholic Church. Since the “Reformers” sought only to destroy the Church, the name for the true Reformation movement within the Catholic Church is ironically called the Counter-Reformation.

Many good things did come about as a result of the Counter-Reformation. We would not have one billion Catholics today without it.


#3

Reform Came before the Reformation (This Rock: April 2006)

Let’s get the idea of reformers into perspective.


#4

I really don’t think the term “reformers” is very fitting at all. “Deformers” suits them much better, because of their heretical beliefs, they deformed and perverted Christianity into something so far from what Jesus Christ Our Lord prayed for.

Hopefully through prayer and fasting, all of the sects that grew out of the Deformation will realize their errors and embrace Christ in the Church.

Pace e Bene
Andrew


#5

More than one person has pointed out that the Reformation was (among other things) a result of the accumulated mistakes of the Mediaeval Western Church. The Reformers started making the same assumptions and asking the same questions, but came to different conclusions.

It is PRECISELY because the Reformation was more a reaction than anything else that attempts to introduce Reformed doctrines into Orthodox or other eastern Churches would fail. Has anyone noticed that the Reformation basically stopped short at the borders of Orthodox countries.


#6

God can use all things to do good. I agree here that the division Luther and his buddies caused was sinful. I only hope they realized this. However, not all protestants are scismatics. Some just happened to be born into a baptist or pentecostal church, and are not seeking division, they just never look into catholicism because they are content where they are. This why popes stated a long time ago that divisionist protestants were outside the saving power of christ as long as they kept it up. TO be protestant in that day meant you were schismatic. The same cannot be said for protestants today.


#7

It stopped at the border of the old Roman Empire, actually.

As Belloc has noted, the Reformation came from the western fringes of the old Empire, and didn’t make it into the heart of it.

The Orthodox of course were in the East, and enjoyed a geographic separation from the “Reformers” they did not from the Mohammedans.

Moreover, it is a fallacy to think Calvin, Zwingli, and Luther would not have taken after the Orthodox had they been available. The Orthodox engage in many practices which the “Reformers” condemned, not least of which being the use of icons.

The Orthodox were saved from such depredations by geography, not purity. One presumes you will not claim Orthodox purity as the reason why Constantinople is now Istanbul, but would rather note (correctly) proximity to Turkish hordes descending from the north had rather more to do with it.


#8

No, it did not, you would be wise not to speak in absolutes. There were pockets of Protestants all over France and Italy, just as there were pocket of Roman Catholics in northern and central Europe.

France is an excellent example. This daughter of the church was plagued with the Protestant Reformation, and this without any royal support. The degenerating situation only reversed after a certain Feast Day.

Switzerland is another great example.

Then there is Olde England itself, a part of the Roman empire for probably four hundred years and the original political base of Saint Constantine, emperor of Rome.

He was being, to some extent, poetic.

Please cite your sources for this concept.

It is total nonsense. Ideas travel along the trade routes, there is no geographic limitation to ideas, only cultural limits. The perfect example is Romania. Transylvania, reaching into the very heart of Romania, was held by the kingdom of Hungary, most of the people were Orthodox Romanians and a percentage were Magyars who had setted there hundreds of years before and converted into the Roman Catholic faith following king Stephen. It was the Roman Catholic community, in the heart of Romania in the heart of eastern Europe that became Protestant.

The Orthodox remained Orthodox in spite of the the fact that they had direct contact with the Roman Catholics (turning Protestant) every day. The Protestant arguments did not make sense to the Orthodox, while the Roman Catholics flocked to the Protestant cause.

Russia, for it’s part, invited Protestants in, to live, work and trade. Even requiring Protestant craftsmen to take on Russian apprentices. All of this initmate contact for several centuries did not make a difference.

Protestant ideas did not take root in the East because the Orthodox have a different mindset than western Christians. They do not work from the same basic presumptions and they ask different questions, seeking different answers.

This is a straw argument, I do not see it asserted by anyone here.

The Protestant reformers most certainly did reach out to the Orthodox east. In producing their “reforms” they thought that they were cleaning up and restoring western Christianity to it’s Apostolic origins, and thought that they had sympathetic allies in the Orthodox. They were rebuffed completely.

Yet Holy Orthodoxy had no experience of the scholasticism that the western church had. Orthodoxy is still deeply into it’s Patristic roots. In those cases where Protestants have forwarded arguments to the East in their disputes with Roman Catholicism the Orthodox have essentially endorsed the Roman Catholic positions as being more correct. This has to be because of our common origins in the early church.

Orthodox do not make common cause with Protestants, at any level, and are more likely to identify the Roman Catholic church as the first Protestant church, because of the many commonalities between the RC way of thinking and the Protestant ways. It may seem to be an unfair comparison, but it helps us to understand that the ways the western church grew and changed over time nurtured the Protestant spirit, and provided the idea bank for Protestant assertions.
*
Michael*


#9

France IS the fringe of the old Empire. Pockets are irrelevant; there are a few cranks anywhere.

France is an excellent example.

France is the fringe. Gaul, recall?

Switzerland is another great example.

When did Rome conquer Switzerland?

Then there is Olde England itself, a part of the Roman empire for probably four hundred years and the original political base of Saint Constantine, emperor of Rome.

You do understand what fringe means, right? It’s not only a function of when conquered but where located and how influential.

It is total nonsense. Ideas travel along the trade routes, there is no geographic limitation to ideas, only cultural limits. The perfect example is Romania. Transylvania, reaching into the very heart of Romania, was held by the kingdom of Hungary, most of the people were Orthodox Romanians and a percentage were Magyars who had setted there hundreds of years before and converted into the Roman Catholic faith following king Stephen. It was the Roman Catholic community, in the heart of Romania in the heart of eastern Europe that became Protestant.

Christianity was a Jewish cult until Constantine. She spread because of the Empire. It is an odd thing to hear Orthodox misapprehend the importance of the Empire. Those trade routes were possible simply because they were protected by legions.

The Orthodox remained Orthodox in spite of the the fact that they had direct contact with the Roman Catholics (turning Protestant) every day. The Protestant arguments did not make sense to the Orthodox, while the Roman Catholics flocked to the Protestant cause.

Prove your thesis. Let’s see the evidence for Protestant penetration of Orthodox areas during the Reformation and Orthodox response.

Russia, for it’s part, invited Protestants in, to live, work and trade. Even requiring Protestant craftsmen to take on Russian apprentices. All of this initmate contact for several centuries did not make a difference.

How free were Russians to convert in the 16th century?

Protestant ideas did not take root in the East because the Orthodox have a different mindset than western Christians. They do not work from the same basic presumptions and they ask different questions, seeking different answers.
This is a straw argument, I do not see it asserted by anyone here.

Protestant ideas are taking root in the East right now; it’s a major target for evangelicals. The mindset must not be THAT alien, right?

The Protestant reformers most certainly did reach out to the Orthodox east. In producing their “reforms” they thought that they were cleaning up and restoring western Christianity to it’s Apostolic origins, and thought that they had sympathetic allies in the Orthodox. They were rebuffed completely.

Okay, so let’s see the evidence. Martin Luther thought the Jews would become Lutherans, is this a similar type of reaching out? The Protestants triggered revolts and marched against the West. The influence was quite huge. It is quite analogous to Muslims and Turks conquering the East, where Orthodoxy held sway. And a good many Orthodox converted to Islam, did they not?

Yet Holy Orthodoxy had no experience of the scholasticism that the western church had. Orthodoxy is still deeply into it’s Patristic roots. In those cases where Protestants have forwarded arguments to the East in their disputes with Roman Catholicism the Orthodox have essentially endorsed the Roman Catholic positions as being more correct. This has to be because of our common origins in the early church.

No argument from me, but don’t push Western scholasticism too far. After all, had priests in Germany been better catechized their never would have been a Reformation.

Orthodox do not make common cause with Protestants, at any level, and are more likely to identify the Roman Catholic church as the first Protestant church, because of the many commonalities between the RC way of thinking and the Protestant ways. It may seem to be an unfair comparison, but it helps us to understand that the ways the western church grew and changed over time nurtured the Protestant spirit, and provided the idea bank for Protestant assertions.
*
Michael*

Funny, I was about to say the same thing about the Orthodox—the common trait you share with Protestants is a problem with authority.

But if you don’t blame us for Protestantism, we won’t blame you for the tragedy that is the Islamic East. As Islam is to the Eastern Roman Empire, Protestantism was to the West.

Empires decay on the frontiers.


#10

And my source for the geographic separation of Orthodox from Protestant is a map. England, France, and Lutheran Germany bordered Orthodox kingdoms where in 1520? Where in 1588?

Let’s keep in mind that this is analogous to the fact that when Islam first arose, the West enjoyed a separation from her for some time—the Orthodox East bore the brunt first.


#11

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