Last year the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation was celebrated by those who took the time to remember. However, The Reformation has not always been remembered or appreciated.
Many still referred to it as a revolution from the mother church:
“..some Catholics today and many Catholics in the past referred to the Protestant “Revolt” or “Revolution” rather than the Protestant “Reformation.” Why the Catholic unease? “Reformation” usually connotes change for the better, perhaps setting a person or an institution back on his or its original course after confusion or corruption took things in the wrong direction.
“Many Catholics reject the expression Reformation because, as Catholics, they don’t see breaking with the Catholic Church as improving Christian faith or practice. They see it as substituting the full truth of Christianity for what they regard as the partial truth and error of Protestantism.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/reformation-revolution-and-beyond
“Reform means rebuild, make changes in specially in order to improvement but revolution is a fundamental change in political power or organizational structure which exits within a short time period.” https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-reform-and-revolution
As many know from history, this revolt or reform began with a monk nailing a piece of paper to the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. The monk was Martin Luther.
Martin Luther has been viewed as a hero of the faith for centuries by many. On the other hand, he has been stripped of his heroic garments to reveal a man with numerous faults and prejudices.
Many accept the notion that he was God’s instrument in punishing the mother church for all of its atrocities and indulgences. Of course, the monolithic, male hierarchy of the mother church had numerous challenges including problems with avarice and intolerance flowing through the arteries and veins of its Roman heart.
To the reformers and their adherents the mother church became the “whore of Babylon” or “great prostitute” as described in the last book of the New Testament— Revelation as described in Chapter 17. Even in 2018 with all the problems and issues (sexual abuse being the biggest one) plaguing the mother church, there are still those Protestants who cling to this belief that the Church of Rome is the great harlot.
The Pope became the “antichrist” and “deceiver” as written in 2 John 7. He was Saint Paul’s “the man of sin” or “lawlessness” and “son of destruction” in 2 Thessalonians 2 Lexham English Bible (LEB).
Of course, the Roman Catholic Church strongly objects to these appellations by the reformers and those of today who still cling to these nefarious notions of the mother church. Here are some references:
Coming back to Martin Luther: saint, hero, sinner, racist, and imperfect human being are titles which stick to him like dry mud on a cart wheel. Lest we forget, his hatred, there is no other word for it, of the Jews was one of the fundamental points the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) used in their pogrom against the Jews and others.
Why not? Martin Luther was a hero of the fatherland tossing off the shackles of a foreign power which was located in Rome. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/martin-luther-quot-the-jews-and-their-lies-quot
Over the centuries thousands of men, women and children paid for the Reformation or Revolution with their precious blood. Many of these were just ordinary folks doing the best they could in the times in which they were born.
Over these last five centuries certain segments of Protestantism have engaged in atrocious acts against anyone who dared to defy them. Perhaps, this is why there are so many denominations, splinters, sects, cults and off-shoots.
Like Catholics many Protestants are decent and loving individuals who go about walking the road of life on this planet traversing the cosmos. Of course, you have far too many religious communities based on a male hierarchical structure and rigid control of the community.
In these communities women are still be required to pay for the “supposed” baleful act of their maternal mother Eve in the Garden of Eden. Based on the supposition that equality ceased when Eve led her husband Adam to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, they regulate women to second place in their male headship theology which has nothing to do with the study of God.
Adam seemed to be forgiven since he believed a “woman”. Eve, on the other hand, is still held in the docket of judgment and assigned to the status of inferiority for listening to a winged creature’s sophistry as it talked to her from the forbidden tree in the middle of the garden.
Like Pandora opening the box or large storage jar from which sprang the evils which plague this world, Eve’s injurious act of partaking of the forbidden tree and offering to Adam who was probably standing right there beside her if the reading of the Genesis text is correctly translated, women have been tarnished and branded by religion ever since. Perhaps the next reformation or revolution should be by women who secede from the bondage of male-dominated religious communities.
Regardless of what these communities profess to believe, it is in the genome to protest injustice. Walking or breaking away becomes the only sane course to follow.
On this orb hanging in infinite majesty, life is too fragile and short to live in religious bondage or any type of bondage. Freedom is not achieved by submission or conformity to the status quo of uniformity.
It can only be gained by courageous acts of free will. Determinism may be advocated by the ones in control, but each person can choose what path they face on their life journey.
The journey to the cosmic ocean should be one without entanglements or submission of one’s conscience to others. Too many people, especially women, are trapped in cages of determinism:
“I think that, generally, people of the world typify a “free and wild” person as someone who’s uprooted, detached and uninhibited. But I don’t believe in that kind of freedom. I think that’s an infantile concept. Freedom means something when it has escaped something! Those people who escaped things— their inner cages, cages set by others around them— when those people are able to roam free and say, ‘This is who I am because this is who I choose to be’, THAT is freedom. Freedom isn’t being stupid; freedom is being so smart that you develop a strength strong enough to break free and become your own person. A better person than what your circumstances would like to define you as.” C. JoyBell C.
G. D. Williams © 2018
“Amid turmoil and uncertainty, discovery and enlightenment began to flourish … then along came Martin Luther, who turned enlightenment to a Reformation … that was all about Jesus, and is still all about Jesus.”
While the Medieval Church had its share of problems, Luther’s 95 Theses focused primarily on one major grievance: indulgences.
While we think of “indulgence’ as overflowing bowls of ice cream or decadent slices of cake, indulgence in Luther’s setting referred to a system of payments made for the pardon of sins. In essence, believers saw the indulgence system as counter-scriptural in emphasizing earning forgiveness of sins rather than faith.
To Luther this was an affront to the gospel and he directed his anger at men like Johann Tetzel, Germany’s commissioner of indulgences. Tetzel’s role was to travel the countryside selling forgiveness. He is well known for his repetition of the warm medieval tune, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs.”
As the Reformation spread through Europe, it was marked by bloody episodes of warfare and violence.
Wars were waged in central, western and northern Europe from 1524 to 1649, fuelled by the religious rivalry that Luther had unwittingly inspired.
After Luther realised that he would not be able to convert Jews to his version of Christianity, he unleashed a tirade of anti-Semitic writings.
He argued that Jewish synagogues, schools and homes should be set on fire, that Jews should have their assets confiscated and that they should be used as forced labour and expelled.
His texts, such as On the Jews and Their Lies, were used extensively by the Nazis.
The world of the late medieval Roman Catholic Church from which the 16th-century reformers emerged was a complex one. Over the centuries the church, particularly in the office of the papacy, had become deeply involved in the political life of Western Europe. The resulting intrigues and political manipulations, combined with the church’s increasing power and wealth, contributed to the bankrupting of the church as a spiritual force. Abuses such as the sale of indulgences (or spiritual privileges) by the clergy and other charges of corruption undermined the church’s spiritual authority. These instances must be seen as exceptions, however, no matter how much they were played up by polemicists. For most people, the church continued to offer spiritual comfort. There is some evidence of anticlericalism, but the church at large enjoyed loyalty as it had before. One development is clear: the political authorities increasingly sought to curtail the public role of the church and thereby triggered tension.
Luther had previously written against the Church’s adherence to clerical celibacy, and in 1525 he married Katherine of Bora, a former nun. They had five children. Although Luther’s early writings had sparked the Reformation, he was hardly involved in it during his later years. At the end of his life, Luther turned strident in his views, and pronounced the pope the Antichrist, advocated for the expulsion of Jews from the empire and condoned polygamy based on the practice of the patriarchs in the Old Testament.
Luther died on February 18, 1546.