Monday, May 16

Reformation? Transformation? Conflagration?

On FIRE for Jeebus (funny hat extra)
I've been reading the works of heretics as of late.  In specific, the life and times of three theologians who challenged the Roman Church and who, collectively, changed how western Christians (both Protestant and Roman Catholic) define and understand their faith. The major points of heresy for them include:
  • Challenging the authority of the Roman hierarchy (in especial, that of the pope).
  • Questioning the necessity of celibacy and the abstention from marriage within the priesthood.
  • Challenging the institutional church and it's handling of money and property, in the end accusing it of Simony.
  •  Returning to Scripture, not Vatican mandate, as arbiter of truth within the Church.
  •  Challenging the very necessity or rightness of the clergy as a separate caste or order.
  •  Questioning the nature of the sacrament of Eucharist.
  •  Affirming the doctrine of sola fide (that Salvic Grace is achieved through faith alone).

Whether or not you agree with Drs Wycliffe, Hus and Luther, it is salient to note that many of these questions are showing up again after 500-600 years. The other thing which strikes me is the defense which was made at each of their trials.  Paraphrased, it is this:

"Show me in scripture where I am wrong and I shall gladly recant/repent/apologize." 

The Church never even tried to mount a Scripture-based defense.

This all makes me think.  Time and again, the call for reform comes from the scholars.  We are seeing that today, in Germany and elsewhere.  Perhaps a simple cold-warrior like Karol would not see the significance of this, but the present Pontiff is a theologian himself.  A great deal of the longevity and health of an institution such as the catholic church (of any stripe) is linked to the capability for internal discussion,dissension and dialogue, especially amongst scholars.  When the call has been heeded, there is substantive and lasting reform (i.e.- Clunaic reforms)  Whenever this has been actively curtailed, the Body of Christ is injured...both literally and figuratively.  I would pray that there are wise and attentive students of history who point to this and have us learn from the lessons of the past

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