Often, effective blogging depends on keeping up with current conversations in social media. Readers crave hot topics — the more controversial, the better! As a result, very few people right now have even the slightest interest in reading about the Protestant Reformation.
Between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017, I devoted almost every Tuesday to blogging about the Protestant Reformation. Since October 31 of that year, I’ve said little about the matter, largely because the 500th anniversary had passed and everyone else has moved on to other topics. After all, the anniversary was over; other matters had begun to capture everyone’s attention.
While it’s in many respects understandable that I’ve followed suit by dropping the subject, I’m not sure I should have done so. Lately my abandonment of the topic has bothered me.
Three years ago, I felt keenly aware that God had orchestrated the Reformation to restore His people to the teachings of Scripture. Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages had obscured those teachings by depending on widespread illiteracy, by relegating Biblical interpretation to the priesthood and by developing traditions that held equal weight to God’s Word.
Men prior to Luther and Calvin tried to challenge the aspects of Roman Catholicism that conflicted with Biblical doctrine, only to be silenced and denounced as heretics. Luther’s 95 Theses only gained traction enough to set the Reformation in motion because the printing press had been invented just a few years earlier.
Okay, but we covered all those points — and then some — back in 2017. Right now, everyone wants to talk about COVID-19 and Aimee Byrd’s latest book. The Reformation happened 500 years ago. That was then and this perspective is now. In 2117, it might once again be fashionable to discuss the Protestant Reformation. Why not forget about it till then?
My point is precisely that evangelicals have forgotten the Reformation. We began forgetting about it on November 1, 2017.
Forgetting the Reformation is dangerous. As we close our church history books, thoughts of how the great Reformers suffered persecution for the sake of Biblical doctrine fade away and we again blur lines that we should keep sharp. We forget how greatly this mattered 500 years ago. Even worse, we forget how much they matter in 2020.