Thursday, August 25, 2005

Erasmus would have kept a blog

Hi Don,

Finished chapter two (of The Reformation today. After the breakneck ride through the late medieval period in chapter one, it was a relief to (relatively) slow down and spend more leisurely time with humanists of various stripes.

What has struck me, over and over as I read this, is that we as a church don't really understand where we come from, not Episcopalians or Protestants more broadly. And who can blame us? If any of this was touched on in school, we got the standard "corrupt church--Gutenberg and printing press--Martin Luther" line.

We're reading an 800 page book which summarizes a very complex historical period. Even with a seminary education that included two classes which spent some time with the main figures and doctrines of this period, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of material in this book (and I feel a need to dig out my index cards I used to get through the quizzes in our Reformation class). Then you figure this material has to get condensed to some degree for a seminary class. Then the seminarians go out into the world, and if they're lucky, every now and then they get to spend 3 45 minute sessions on the Reformation on an Adult Forum schedule somewhere.

When I taught Church History in a deacon formation program, I always used to begin with discussing why we need to know our history. We would always discuss the idea that, as an incarnational faith, we believed that God intervened in history. How one can make sense of where God might have been acting in the swirling mess of what we're reading is currently beyond me.

The next chapter seems to focus on Augustine as a doctrinal linchpin of the Reformation. Can't wait till we actually get to Martin Luther (perhaps by Chapter 10?)

Read on!



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