Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Special Announcement

Reformation Week will run June 1st to the 5th! Check back each day for posts!


Anonymous said...

Prepare to be blasted mang! You know about my love for these reformers - well actually I have small problems with them (they are dead so who cares about them really) - my problems being where a week like 'Reformer's week' begins...and how those ideologies still continue to control some 400+ years later. That's a problem - forget it being history.

Luke said...

"and how those ideologies still continue to control some 400+ years later. That's a problem - forget it being history."

actually i think you'll like Erasmus, he's rather anti-doctrine. just read "In Praise of Folly."

that being said, it's also interesting how these guys have been used throughout history. many of the doctrines we have now are distortions of the intent of the four. some are better, but some have made it worse for the wear. these arguments they were making are extremely relevent.

so my main point is to do what Yael and I have discussed. show Christians some of their history and some of the wisdom and mistakes of the past. to say it's all bad, well that's a limited view. to accept it wholesale is equally as bad and misses the original context these arguments took place in, and why they were happening in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"to accept it wholesale is equally as bad and misses the original context these arguments took place in, and why they were happening in the first place." (Luke)

For me, this is the part that sucks - I have a find grip on church history and many of the reformers (did a 4 year stint in a Bible College - which included history and Greek).

I know a thing or 2 about history and how this all works - it's step upon step in some sense.

Christianity starts with a small Jewish contingent (gospels and Acts both approve this conception). Paul moves it to the Gentile regions. More early church founders, all Gentiles, move it forward and build upon it (around the same time many of the materials for the NT are written). My 325 AD we have the complete circle - Gentile Christianity becomes the religion of the gov't (not a democratic one mind you - an authoritarian one).

After that the canon and articles of faith are solidified for the East and West communities of Christianity...which failed BTW - Orthodoxy still broke away from Catholicism by the 1000's. In this same time period we also see the monastic movement and this uber spirituality stuff - which a few undertake and write about. But in essence, nothing totally special.

Then the reformers come upon the scene. A whole 1100+ years after the original movement that needs to be questioned (the Councils) doesn't get questioned. The reformers finesse some of the original stuff but what do they really challenge? Heresy and the extra curricular abuses of the Catholic church. Well, what if they are founded on Gentile Christianity that made mistakes in interpretation?

Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley - so what (in some senses)? They don't change very much (except extra curricular things to the scriptures)- but set in motion a Christianity that is exclusive. The same Christianity that when it is carried oversea's for the first time aids in the destruction of many cultures (ie: Native people) and the enslavement of another (early 1600's). If I am not mistaken - many of these people were Reform and Puritans.

What kind of faith did they truly establish or change? Luther was quoted in Nazi Germany - Europe became a wholesale anti-semitic continent (many of those ashes still remain there today). The British Empire - which was Protestant - adopted Manifest Destiny - enslaving peoples from Australia, South Africa, India, and all 3 continents of the America's...not to forget Hong Kong....those SOB's can travel apparently under the King.

The protestant movement is the basic reason there is like some 100+ denoms today - they are the inspiration for church splits worldwide. The also inspire the Protestant ethic (I would also say Capitalism) which in turn leads to Industrialism. Which in turn leads to pollution and wasting of the earth. But why care - it's just the earth and it's meant to 'serve us'.

I see very little heroism in these people personally - I just have to thank God I didn't grow up when these 'reformers' met us Natives and I also thank God Yael grew up in America in an age when the anti-semitism in America was dying down. Had she been born in Poland (or most places in Europe) in the 1930's - things may be different.

Church history is only as good as the rest of history it influences.

Where as for Yael - I don't think the same can be said for Judaism. Jews, in modern history, have only one battle on their hands (Palestine) and beyond that they never had a country for some 1800 years or more. And wherever Judaism propped up - it didn't bring with it the need for control or forced assimilations (another by product of the 'us' and 'them' metality). The history of Judaism, for a religion, is pretty neat actually (more about the under-dog, community, and adapting in the face of what can only be called 'exile' worldwide).

I just have a rough time celebrating a piece of church history that had a chance for wholesale change and settled for more of the same.

Luke said...


i think you misunderstand my intentions. i'm not painting a rosie, YAY US! picture of the reformers. you'll have to wait and see how they come across, right now you're assume'n where i'm heading and i'm asking you to stop and wait to pass judgment.

as i've said before, the ironic thing is, by insisting that all people had a responsibility for their own spiritual state, the reformation gave rise directly to the growth of individualism and modernity. it required ordinary people to become better informed about their religion, and in producing the means to service that need (printing, literacy, and a unified and coherent vernacular) it further encouraged the trend. it also contributed to the rationalization of the world, hence to the growth of modern science and technology and thus inadvertently to the erosion of religion.

am i holding these dudes up as heros? hell no. i'm saying "consider your history. consider what has been done before you." this provides a fuller picture. these dudes were dudes. they did things that were good in the short term, some would argue long term as well, but both had unintended consquences.

today we're moving into post-colonialism, post-modernism, and experiencing a "re-enchantment" period filled with associtive, nonlinear thought patterns and theories. i'm all about this. but we're at the beginning of the sea change. to venture forward, we should take note of other sea changes and see what was good and what went wrong. why all the splits? how'd these guys differ and why?

i resist saying that Luther is the reason for the Nazi's. the bible has been used for many an awful thing and will be used again in the future. . It hasn't even taken a lot of effort to turn the Bible toward the legitimation of slavery, apartheid, misogyny, and heterosexism. Thank God, a neat thing happens: even in those painful conversations the Bible challenges the Bible, and in the long run things work out. and if we know how these things were used in the past, we can spot them easier in the future. just as we don't have to consider Montanism, Arianism, becoming a "Shaker", or other types of failed Christian movements.

i love history. i love reading about these very human, very contextual theologians. i love see'n how relevent this stuff is. i think you may have a different opinion after it's shot. wait until then, and then spout off, not before.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I celebrate religious reformers. As for the reformers of the past... Regardless of how their morality measures up by today's standards, I think the most important precedent they set is that men -- even so-called men of God -- are fallible. Unfortunately, in the White Christian's Real America, we forget that too often.

Anyhow, Reformation Week sounds like a cool project. Look forward to it!

Cody said...

I am so flippin' excited for this. I know what I'll be doing in my cubicle next week.

Yael said...

Please, no pedestals. There is no perfection in Judaism, just imperfect people who at times are just as much jerks as anyone else. Obviously, I think Judaism is a much better way of living life for me and mine or we would not do so, but I make no claims to perfection or all encompassing goodness.

I think the exploration of history is a great thing, but only if done honestly. Part of the deal is wrestling with the bad as well as the good.

Sally said...

I'm hearing lots of excitement about this via facebook...can't wait to see what's always a party when Luke's around!

Luke said...


no pedestals intended, but the first episode will be a little zany and the next two will be the theological stances on communion and predestination. if i were to explore these guys further, i would go into contemporary issues like sexism, racism, and the like. i'm looking forward to see'n everyone's responces. it's supposed to be theo-tainment. part funny, part educational. we'll see how well i've done.

Yael said...

Hi Luke,
I should have been clearer in my comment. The pedestal reference was in response to Jason's comment, not to anything you said. I initially wrote a longer comment and then chopped most of it out which likely left it making little sense.

Your project sounds like quite an undertaking. Hope it goes well for you.