Having grown up in the United States, I have been steeped in a progressive view of history that sees the Reformation as a good thing.
This view permeates Protestant circles. I remember when, as an adult, I first started to encounter Catholics and Anglo-Catholics who would joke that evangelicals believed in the early Church and then skipped the rest of Church history to 500 years ago, as if that’s all that mattered.
C of E archbishops call on Christians to repent for Reformation split
Justin Welby and John Sentamu recall ‘damage done five centuries ago’ that saw Christian people pitted against each other.
It unleashed an orgy of death and destruction across Europe. In England alone, more than 800 monasteries, abbeys, nunneries and friaries were seized, libraries were destroyed, manuscripts lost, treasures stripped and works of art appropriated. Thousands of people were hung, drawn and quartered, or burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs.
Five hundred years after the Reformation, the religious revolution that swept across Europe, the leaders of the Church of England – itself created in the decades of upheaval – have called on Christians to repent for the divisions, persecution and death.
The archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a statement on Tuesday recalling “the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love”.
I am coming to see such widely-touted-as-good historical events such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment in a different light.
The article goes on to say:
There are, however, fiercely traditionalist elements in both denominations opposed to any moves towards closer relations, let alone unity.
Welby and Sentamu’s statement also pointed to the “great blessings … to which the Reformation directly contributed.
“Amongst much else these would include clear proclamation of the gospel of grace, the availability of the Bible to all in their own language and the recognition of the calling of laypeople to serve God in the world and in the church,” they wrote.
See, even this Guardian article fits the template of “Reformation=good” after all.
Reform is good. The Reformation? Not so much.
Unity is good. How do we restore Christian unity?