Two years ago, in 2017, was the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For those of us in the reformed tradition, it was a pretty big deal. This Sunday, we celebrate our annual “Reformation Sunday” in the Presbyterian Church.
Internet Monk recently had a repost from the late Michael Spencer, on the Reformation. Spencer studied the Reformation extensively. Though he remained a proud Protestant, he also came away with some pretty frank observations and critiques of either the Reformation movement itself or the way we have come to view it.
The post contains a list of insights (is it a listicle?) that came to Spencer during his studies. Here are some that particularly resonated with me.
- I do not believe true Christianity was restored or rediscovered in the Reformation.
- I’m convinced that it didn’t take long for Protestantism to accumulate enough problems of its own to justify another reformation or two.
- I believe that a lot of Protestants say sola scriptura when they mean solo scriptura or nuda scriptura or something I don’t believe at all.
- I now believe that tradition is a very good word.
- I believe the Reformation was very secular, political and, eventually, quite violent. To act as if it was mostly a spiritual revival movement is naive.
- I believe we ought to grieve the division of Christianity and the continuing division of Protestantism.
I would also tend to agree with Spencer that, after consistently saying the Apostles Creed, and confessing belief in the one catholic church, it does seem a bit odd to be celebrating Christian division.