Reformation Day falls on the same day as Hallowe’en.
It’s when we commemorate and remember the reality of monsters in our world.
Allegedly, although he had already said and done much more provocative things, it was October 31st when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg. So in churches around the world tomorrow we will sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.
Some Christians oppose Hallowe’en thinking that it is evil and dark and occult and Satanic. When Zoomtard is King, every child will be entitled to knee those Christians in the balls if they try to pass out religious literature in lieu of chocolate on Hallowe’en.
But there is something authentically (if that word can ever be used in such a context) Satanic about Christians celebrating the splitting of the European churches and the pain and separation that persists to this day.
Stanley Hauerwas is right, Reformation day “names failure” for the church. It is right that we should remember it. But it should not be with songs of thanksgiving and praise but that much under-used (never-used) component of Christian worship: lament.
The European Reformation was of course a theological movement that was much needed. The Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day was sick and twisted and had forgotten their calling. We can and should thank God for Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and many others. But the split between these men and Rome was not inevitable. To slip into thinking it was is equivalent to saying the Holy Spirit vacated Rome.
Why would the Spirit leave Rome? Isn’t that an uncustomary thing for the Spirit of God to do, to abandon people? Is it because of Rome’s apostasy, Rome’s failure? Well doesn’t that sound a lot like their failure to do works of righteousness distanced them from God which is the definition of a works righteousness?
Wouldn’t such thinking utterly contradict the Reformation, which we are after all celebrating?
Even Charles Spurgeon, the closest to a saint evangelical Christianity has, recognised that the Holy Spirit works powerfully through the preaching and teaching of Rome:
In Brussels, I heard a good sermon in a Romish church. The place was crowded with people, many of them standing, though they might have had a seat for a halfpenny or a farthing; and I stood, too; and the good priest — for I believe he is a good man, — preached the Lord Jesus with all his might. He spoke of the love of Christ, so that I, a very poor hand at the French language, could fully understand him, and my heart kept beating within me as he told of the beauties of Christ, and the preciousness of His blood, and of His power to save the chief of sinners. He did not say, ‘justification by faith,’ but he did say, ‘efficacy of the blood,’ which comes to very much the same thing. He did not tell us we were saved by grace, and not by our works; but he did say that all the works of men were less than nothing when brought into competition with the blood of Christ, and that the blood of Jesus alone could save. True, there were objectionable sentences, as naturally there must be in a discourse delivered under such circumstances; but I could have gone to the preacher, and have said to him, ‘Brother, you have spoken the truth;’ and if I had been handling the text, I must have treated it in the same way that he did, if I could have done it as well. I was pleased to find my own opinion verified, in his case, that there are, even in the apostate church, some who cleave unto the Lord, — some sparks of Heavenly fire that flicker amidst the rubbish of old superstition, some lights that are not blown out, even by the strong wind of Popery, but still cast a feeble gleam across the waters sufficient to guide the soul to the rock Christ Jesus. (Quoted in Lewis Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, 343-344).
Jesus said that we would be known as his followers by our unity. Christianity remains broken. Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and now Pentecostal. All four labels fail to do their job. How can they? The idea of a specific distinction between Christians is inherently offensive. Was there a need for Reformation? Certainly. Is there need for a Reformation today? Increasingly, we sense there is. Does that mean Reformation, an implicit confession of gross failure and lostness, is something to dance in memory of?
Today we should dress in costume and indulge the excessive appetites of children and tell scary stories and drink good beer because festival and marking time is inherently good in and of itself. But in very real terms, there would be no more fearsome costume to don than that of a Reformation father, which is sadly what many congregations will do tomorrow morning in their worship.
Your Correspondent, Loves with his heart, hopes with his hands