Monday, September 12, 2005

Reformation thoughts continued

Hi Don,

Way back when (a couple of weeks ago), we were both reading Diarmaid MacCulloch's The Reformation, and we were both making good progress.

Then Katrina happened and I know I was transfixed by images on television and distracted from being able to follow the complexities of the Reformation across Europe.

I think I'm in Chapter 8 somewhere. And what has jumped out at me (MacCulloch has reached his discussion of Armininius) is how I believe the church gets into trouble when it starts to want to pin God down on matters of theology.

The Reformed and Lutheran branches started writing confessions left and right, narrowing down the possible theological choices one could make and still be a member of any particular Christian body. Catholicism, as well, narrowed its range of possibilities.

I've written about this before, I suppose, and it seems to me, every time, we're trying to take away God's sovereignty to make choices about our salvation--i.e., we want to make a bargain with God, to earn our salvation (wait, wasn't that what Luther was originally railing against, anyway?)

Far more theologically sound, it seems to me, is to let God be God, and to admit, at a certain point, that while we can speculate all we want, theology is still about mystery.

Of course, mostly what is happening in our Reformation study is watching people grab for power, so often the determining factor in a particular country's religion. And here we also start to see the glimmering of the idea that religion is an individual choice, not that of the nation's. I suspect we'll see that play out more in the remaining chapters.



At 7:26 PM, Blogger Annie said...

Okay, this is becoming more interesting. :)


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