Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why celebrate reformation day?

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the gift of confidence God's people received as a result of the revival of understanding of God's word that came with the Reformation in the sixteenth century. In response, a couple of readers questioned the need for a reformation and argued that I had misrepresented the Catholic church. I will discuss the present Catholic teaching on salvation in a later post. I have worked with many Catholic people on pro-life projects and I respect many aspects of their faith. However, I do have grave concerns about the doctrine of salvation the Catholic church teaches. I have discussed this with numerous Catholics.

For the present, though, I'd like to point out the state of the church of Martin Luther's day. Susan aptly does this in her post Reformation Day: A Reminder for our Times.

But look at Europe at the time leading up to the Protestant Reformation. The Word of God was held captive by a religious elite who were corrupt to the very core, hiding theft, adultery, greed, swindling, and lies underneath the guise of the name of our Lord. The Gospel was not being preached to the masses; instead they were hearing select portions of scripture read to them in a language not native to them, and the public were being taught that they had to help earn their righteousness. They were so frightened of the future of their souls, and so frantic to do anything to earn their way into heaven, that the poor would give away some of their last pennies to buy off a few years from purgatory or to save their souls from hell. The masses murmured rote prayers in penance, trusted in priests to be their mediators before God, and lived in utter fear and spiritual darkness.
I recognise that selling indulgances is no longer an emphasis of the Catholic church. However, it was in Luther's time. This alone was cause for Reformation.

In closing, I've discovered another way that some are celebrating this important day! Please visit Your Sacred Calling to read about one church's Reformation Day Faire! It sounds like a great time! That is one way to ensure that children remember the events surrounding Reformation Day!


  1. Agnes says:

    Hello Sherrin again,

    I can only comment briefly this time, but I think it is only fair that you re-assess your views of what 'indulgences' really are.;

    There are a lot of misconceptions and propaganda (this word actually comes from Church circles, dating around the time of the Reformation) surrounding the issue, even amongst Catholics.

    I found a good website explaining the what they really are and what they are not:

    Whilst you may find the website a tiny pro-Catholic, I am think it is only fair to gain another perspective of an issue before one starts firing off accusations that may not be true or at least badly twisted.

    Also, I have a number of issues with this post that I believe are only fair to be addressed.

    Firstly, the claim that the Church was in 'spiritual darkness etc etc' during the Middle Ages seems a bit extreme to say the least?

    This begs the question of how would you explain that the Church was in such darkness during such times, when at the same time the Church produced hundreds of holy people - saints the calibre of St. Francis, Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint John of the Cross and Vincent Ferrer.

    Secondly, Catholics could easily make claim that a sole reason that the 'Protestant Reformation' (i.e forming another Church through formal schism instead of reforming within) was actually WRONG are simple Bible passges as Matthew 3:16-18.

    Finally, and most importantly, to make such a claim as to celebrate the Reformation means one is celebrating the division of Christianity into hundreds of rival camps and doctrinal variations. I hope you can see that in the Catholic mind, hundreds of conflicting interpretations of Christ's teachings do not add up to a true interpretation of Christ's teachings.

    I am in any way trying to 'convert' you to my way of thinking, simply that for you to make such statements on web where the whole world can see them, means people with opposite views have the right of reply.

    Thanks and God Bless

  2. Hello Agnes,

    Thanks again for giving your name and for writing your concerns so politely. I appreciate it when people choose to address the issues at hand rather than making personal attacks.

    Blogging is not one of my number one life priorities. Thus I cannot answer all your queries at the present. However, I really appreciate it that you have chosen to provide a link and an alternate perspective. My heart is not to misrepresent you or your faith. I hope to address this further in future.

    love Sherrin.

  3. Hello Agnes,

    My original post on the Reformation was meant to be a reflection upon its positive impact upon my life and upon the worldwide church. It was not in any way intended to attack the Catholic church. This did not even enter my mind. However, I recognise that a presentation of the Reformation as a positive event is offensive to those who treasure the Roman Catholic church and wish that everyone was a part of it.

    I do not think that the website you provided counters the notion that during Luther’s time indulgences were greatly abused. In fact, it confirms it through stating that the church had to counter and reform this aspect of its practice. It is clear that prior to 1567 people were sold indulgences. It is great that this is no longer the case, but it is also clear that reformation was needed.

    I do not think that it is inaccurate, from my perspective, to say that the church was in spiritual darkness during the Middle Ages. If church services were in Latin, ordinary people had little access to Bible teaching in their native tongues, and were trusting in the rituals of the church for their right relationship with God, that classifies as darkness to me. You must understand, however, that I believe this because of my own assumptions that clear gospel teaching and Bible teaching are essential a flourishing relationship with God.

    I praise God that he works in many circumstances, and he was working in the Roman Catholic church in the sixteenth century. God does not leave his people without light. However, I must also say that I have differing assumptions about what constitutes “holy”. I believe that all those who trust in the gospel are holy in God’s sight – you and I may be as holy as those who have been deemed saints in the Catholic faith. All those who trust in Christ’s death and resurrection are saints. I cannot tell whether or not the people that you list were holy people – because I don’t know the state of their hearts before God. I hope they are all presently with Christ.

    I looked up Matthew 3:16 – 18 and this passage is about Christ’s baptism. I do not see why this passage proves that it is wrong to leave a body that has forsaken its focus upon the gospel and the Bible. Love for the Son of God may even require that one does so.
    I can see that to the Catholic mind the Reformation was unnecessary and even harmful. However, I believe that this comes partly from an exaggeration of both the disunity of Protestant churches and the unity of the Roman Catholic church. While Protestant churches are divided into many distinctive camps, most of them have very similar central doctrines. The Roman Catholic church also has many groups within it, including prominent members who reject some of its central teachings. At the heart of it, this conflict comes back to the fact that the Roman Catholic church considers itself the one true church – a point of view that I do not hold, and which some of my blog readers do hold.

    In addition, I have explained why I value the celebration of Reformation day. It is not because of our sins or divisions, which are real and lamentable. It is because of the freedom it brought us in the gospel.

    Thank you again, Agnes, for your thoughtful comments on “A Deeper Love”. You have commented with a loving spirit, and I am sure we have far more in common than we realise!

    God bless,