The Reformation


#1

It strikes me that there was no need for the Reformation as the Church is and was in constant need of renewal - a pilgrim Church. There was the Franciscans who were huge in medieval times, trying to get back to simplicity. Also the Cistercians etc etc…the church responded to the reformers in the Council of Trentand would have done so if the Reformation never happened.


#2

Well no, obviously the Church wouldn’t have responded to the Reformers if the Reformation hadn’t happened, because there would have been no “Reformers” to respond to. You haven’t thought through your wording very carefully.

I don’t think there’s any way of knowing what would have happened if Luther and other major figures had decided to remain in communion with Rome. I tend to think that indeed more moderate reforming voices would have prevailed, and some of the errors and distortions of post-Reformation Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant) would have been avoided. But I can’t prove this. It may be that without the schism things would have been worse than they are now. I hope not, and it’s hard to see how they could be. But I don’t see any way to know this.

In Christ,

Edwin


#3

This is an interesting question which we are obviously not able to answer with any certainty. We can only surmise and do “what-ifs”. I recently saw the movie Luther and really don’t know how accurate is was. It did portray the Catholic leadership as arrogant and unwilling to listen to another point of view. As in many cases, money and the lust for power were definite drivers in the controversy. If this be the case with Luther, then we could ask ourselves if the current Catholic leadership remains as arrogant and head-strong as they were in Luther’s time. Although I would not want to categorize all Catholic leaders as arrogant, I believe there are still remanants of this even today, which was evident during the lastest crisis dealing with sexual abuse of young boys. Bottom line: interesting question and really surprised that it has not generated more discussion.

Blessings to all,
John


#4

This is an interesting question, but one that we cannot answer with any certainty. At this time, we can only surmise and do “what-ifs”. I recently saw the movie Luther and although I don’t know how accurate it was, it did portray the Catholic leadership as arrogant and unwilling to listen to another point of view. Of course as in many cases, money and the lust for power were the primary drivers in the controversy. The question we may want to ask ourselves is whether the current Catholic leadership remains as arrogant and headstrong as in Luther’s time. Although I would not want to categorize all Catholic leaders as arrogant, I do believe there are remnants of this same type of arrogance in the Church today as evident of the way the most current crisis dealing with sexual abuse of young boys was handled. Bottom line: Interesting question and I am a little surprised that it has not generated more discussion.

Blessings to all,
John


#5

In Karl Adam’s book, Roots of the Reformation, trans. by Cecily Hastings (Coming Home Resources: 2000), pages 25-26, it says:Had Martin Luther then arisen with his marvelous gifts of mind and heart, his warm penetration of the essence of Christianity, his passionate defiance of all unholiness and ungodliness, the elemental fury of his religious experience, his surging, soul-shattering power of speech, and not least that heroism in the face of death with which he defied the powers of the world—had he brought all these magnificent qualities to the removal of the abuses of the time and the cleansing of God’s garden from weeds, had he remained a faithful member of his Church, humble and simple, sincere and pure, then indeed we should today be his grateful debtors. He would be forever our great Reformer, our true man of God, our teacher and leader, comparable to Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi. He would have been the greatest saint of the German people, the refounder of the Church in Germany, a second Boniface…

But—and here lies the tragedy of the Reformation and of German Christianity—he let the warring spirits drive him to overthrow not merely the abuses in the Church, but the Church Herself, founded upon Peter, bearing through the centuries the successio apostolica; he let them drive him to commit what St. Augustine called the greatest sin with which a Christian can burden himself: he set up altar against altar and tore in pieces the one Body of Christ.


#6

[quote=Todd Easton]In Karl Adam’s book, Roots of the Reformation, trans. by Cecily Hastings (Coming Home Resources: 2000), pages 25-26, it says:Had Martin Luther then arisen with his marvelous gifts of mind and heart, his warm penetration of the essence of Christianity, his passionate defiance of all unholiness and ungodliness, the elemental fury of his religious experience, his surging, soul-shattering power of speech, and not least that heroism in the face of death with which he defied the powers of the world—had he brought all these magnificent qualities to the removal of the abuses of the time and the cleansing of God’s garden from weeds, had he remained a faithful member of his Church, humble and simple, sincere and pure, then indeed we should today be his grateful debtors. He would be forever our great Reformer, our true man of God, our teacher and leader, comparable to Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi. He would have been the greatest saint of the German people, the refounder of the Church in Germany, a second Boniface…

But—and here lies the tragedy of the Reformation and of German Christianity—he let the warring spirits drive him to overthrow not merely the abuses in the Church, but the Church Herself, founded upon Peter, bearing through the centuries the successio apostolica; he let them drive him to commit what St. Augustine called the greatest sin with which a Christian can burden himself: he set up altar against altar and tore in pieces the one Body of Christ.

[/quote]

The author that you quoted above seems to lay the blame for the Reformation at Luther’s feet; however, I am sure there was plenty of blame for the Church’s leadership who were driven by their own agendas of money and power.
The work of this monk was a threat to them and I am not so sure that if Luther remained a “Faithful member of his Church, humble and simple, sincere and pure, . . .” that he would have been treated any differently than history has reported. Remember that much of the Church leadership was not in favor of The Council of Trent, much less the reforms that were generated. That is probably why the Council lasted for over 40 years.
The Universal Church has no doubt been split and fractored many times over as a result of the Reformation, but I cannot keep from thinking that the Church really did this to themselves and Luther just happened to be at that point of history. As we well know, the Church exercised absolute power during this period and as the old saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Blessings to all,

John


#7

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