Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reformation 500: we are all Protestants now

From Archbishop Cranmer-

‘Reformation’ is an awkward word; so, of course, is ‘Protestant’. Both terms convey a sense of theological unity or ecclesial uniformity wrapped in a righteous evangelical zeal, when, in fact, they are loaded with murky historical complexities and layered like the muddled onion of Catholic Christianity. And there’s another awkward word – ‘Catholic’. Is it the whole Church, or just the Western bit? Is it confined to Roman, to which it is usually appended, or does it embrace Eastern Orthodoxy? Is it defined by loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and, if so, what do we call those professing Catholics who think their pope is preaching heresy? Have they ceased to be Catholic, or do they remain catholic? And what in the name of all that’s sainted is an Anglo-Catholic?

We can talk about the Reformation as a single historical event or as a process of ‘returning to Scripture’. We can talk about Protestants as being true gospel activists or of protesting against the errors of the Church of Rome, such as the selling of salvation. And then we have to negotiate contemporary politics, exegesis, the social setting or Sitz im Leben of the text, and then define what we might mean by ‘error’ or ‘heresy’, and the true source of religious authority. What role (if any) is played by tradition and experience? Who determined what constitutes ‘Scripture’? An ecumenical council? You mean a catholic council or a Catholic one? Who convened that council, and why? And then we can ponder the counter-Reformation or the Tridentine movement which some might term the Catholic Reformation. And then we might cavil about St Peter and petros, and argue over rocks and pebbles.

More here-


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