A Catholic Reformation Day
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a day marking our gratitude to God for raising up Martin Luther and many other men and women after him who dared to throw tomatoes at the godless regime that had grown up within the Mother of us all, the Christian Church. In many corners of Protestantism this is a day celebrated as an equivalent to an Independence Day or worse still, a birthday, as though the great corpse of the Roman Church was finally dislodged and the pure Spiritual protestant church emerged all glorious and true. But for all our gratitude to God for Martin Luther, we must not forget what his own intentions were and the fact that the 95 Theses were posted on the eve of All Saints Day, the feast day of all those saints who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel. Luther’s great protest, his burning of bulls and other generally outrageous behavior was not out of disdain for the Catholic Church but out of his great love for her. The Reformation from its inception was a cry for catholicity, not for sectarianism. It was a cry of loyal children for their dear Mother. Of course the legacy of both Roman Catholics and Protestant Catholics is neither glorious nor pure in this regard by any honest reckoning. But in the grand and humorous providence of the Trinity, the last five hundred years have been no mistake. Evil at points? Yes. Desperately wicked at times? Of course. A mistake? Absolutely not. The Reformation, like the Great Schism before it, is yet another way the Holy Spirit has been purifying and perfecting the entire Bride of Christ. And so as we come to celebrate Reformation Day, we do so with full recognition of All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd, the feast of the martyrs and the feast of all the faithful. We celebrate the Protestant Reformation because it is yet another sign that God has been faithful and will continue to be faithful to His people. If it had been our Church, if it had been our planning and our scheming for the conquest of the world, it would have been far more boring, far more tame, and whole lot less messy. But the Triune God will not be boxed in by our little minds. He will not be hedged about with patrimonies and nationalistic powwows or sectarian ideologies or a pastor’s fancy headgear. Our celebration of Reformation Sunday is a recognition of God’s goodness throughout the centuries of the Christian Church in raising up faithful men and women who willingly gave up their own comfort, popularity, and often their very lives for the sake of the gospel. Our celebration of the Reformation is our recognition of God’s faithfulness in every century to His people as the Church. As we seek to recover a culture of festivity and historic rootedness in the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church throughout the ages, we are seeking to celebrate the Protestant Reformation as Evangelical Catholics. And we invite one and all to join us, giving thanks to God for all of those who have come before and who God will still be pleased to raise up now and in the future, those who had the faith and courage to insist on the truth and authority of Holy Scripture and who had no qualms with giving pious sounding god haters a vigorous Bronx cheer.