What's With the Reformation?
Reformation Sunday was today. Since becoming a pastor in 1980, that means I have preached about 25 Reformation sermons. The more I preach around it, the more I wonder some disturbing questions: Was it worth it? Was the division of the church into hundreds, thousands of denominations (some of whom do not consider the others Christian) a good outcome of Luther's argument with Rome? Would the church have reformed itself from within if given enough time? What are the good lessons we have taken out of the Reformation and what lessons do we still not fully get? Is the professional class of the clergy (of which I am a card-carrying member) the real issue? Is it the Reformation more about truth or about power? What happens when the church gets power and loses compassion?
As an evangelical protestant, I have deep concerns about the way we perpetuate division in the church, often by our insistence in the realm of missions where we routinely insult our Roman Catholic family by re-baptizing new members. I guess some hard-nosed baptists do that whenever a new member joins their church, even from another baptist church. But do we need to keep invalidating each other?
And, while I'm rambling along, what's the deal with denominations? Do they have spiritual value any more? Local churches have a reason because only so many people can gather in one place together. But how many church headquarters and officials does the body of Christ really need? I don't know. I'm just one pastor plugging away.