Reformation Day: 25 Theses

1. Anyone who thinks you can cherry-pick the sixteenth century Reformations for solutions for today’s church and society is an idiot.

2. Anyone who thinks you can ignore the Reformations has their head in the sand.

3. Music, art, and literature were transformed by the Reformations.

4. The Reformations also triggered the Peasants’ War: the greatest social upheaval in Europe before the French Revolution.

5. Genuine Reformations always spell trouble.

6. Reformations begin and end with our understanding of God.

7. God spells trouble.

8. From Luther to Teresa of Avila, faith begins with doubt, ecstasy begins with despair.

9. Reformations begin and end with our understanding of Christ.

10. ‘If you will not taste the bitter Christ, you will eat yourself sick of honey’. (Thomas Müntzer)

11. Reformations begin and end with our understanding of Holy Spirit.

12. ‘God’s Spirit is within you, read/Is woman shut out, there, indeed?’ (Argula von Grumbach)

13. In today’s churches heart and mind are out of kilter.

14. In our music and our liturgy we say we yearn for transformation.

15. In our thinking, however, we have given up on the future.

16. We Presbyterians feel we have lost our Church, nationally.

17. Many in the churches feel we have lost the way, politically.

18. There were many Reformations: humanist, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Radical, and communal.

19. None of them gave up on the future.

20. All of them found the way to that future, however, in a recapitulation of the origins.

21. To go forward we need to go back.

22. ‘Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition is the living faith of the dead’. (Jaroslav Pelikan)

23. The Church likes to domesticate, to tame the Bible. The Reformations recognized it as dangerous memory, as liberation, as a wild animal.

24. ‘Almaist in everie private house the buike of Gods law is red and understand in oure vulgaire language’. (1579; Geneva Bible).

25. God is gift.

– Peter Matheson, 31 October, 2011

5 thoughts on “Reformation Day: 25 Theses

  1. Excellent stuff, Jason, and Peter.
    Thanks so much. Deeply challenging.
    So much of it is true for all of us in other branches of the church too.

    Like

  2. Feeling kinda James K Baxter-ish today:

    Morning and Evening Calm

    Morning and evening calm: the Lord has spoken
    from no devouring whirlwind, but the still
    green garden of a world-sustaining Will.
    O tenderly by Him the heart is broken,

    and Bartimaeus finds in the All-Seeing
    his eyes again, grown younger for his pains:
    while disparate Love, that else were iron grains
    draws meaning from the magnet of His Being.

    He has denied my sorrow and my hunger
    with voice of wounds, and bleeding I reply
    that am content in Him to crave no longer

    (dovelike and calm the overarching sky)
    and love of flesh to flesh itself shall die
    His terrible Compassion being stronger.

    Like

  3. mart the rev,
    “My favourite poem is the one that starts “Thirty days hath September” because it actually tells you something.
    Groucho Marx

    Like

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