The intersection of Wittenberg

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Ștefan Tomoiagă – President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Romania

Tony Palmer, leader of a Protestant community of charismatic style and Anglican liturgy, unequivocally stated in 2014 that “we no longer protest against the doctrine of salvation of the Catholic Church; now we are preaching the same Gospel! …” and “Luther’s protest is over!”

Bearing in mind the concessions of the Catholic-Lutheran Declaration on Doctrine of Justification, signed on October 31st, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany, between ancient theological combatants, Palmer’s proposal made a point: “the raison d’être” of Protestantism should cease!

The spectrum of October 31st, 2017 finds the religious world at the 500th anniversary of the onset of the Protestant Reformation. A mourning occasion, the descent of the Protestant flag? Or a resurrection of scriptural breath? Let’s see.

The religious realities of the 1517 included, among others: prayers for changing the destiny of the dead; the worship of the saints “of the other world”; the transition of the soul among the flames of purgatory; the literal sacrifice of Christ again and again on every occasion of the Eucharist; forgiveness obtained only by buying indulgences; worship of relics, etc. A zealous collector, Frederic of Saxony, had gathered no less than 19,000 of holy bones! Those who, on All Saints’ Day, looked at relics and brought special gifts, could receive indulgences to reduce their stay in Purgatory by up to 2 million years!

Exasperated, Martin Luther, professor of Roman Catholic theology and a Roman-Catholic monk, exclaimed: “How many lies …! A bishop claims to have a feather from the wing of the angel Gabriel; another one has a flame from the burning bush that Moses saw! And how it is possible that in Germany are buried eighteen apostles, when Christ only had … twelve ?! ” ( Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand, p. 296).

By not finding a biblical correspondent for the theological speculation, Luther proposes a bold perspective that would stir the whole world: “as for faith, Christians should not accept doctrines other than those based on the authority of Holy Scriptures!”

In April 1529, a massive group of German princes and electors signed the statement “Protestatio”. They demanded, like Luther, the right to free conscience from any constraints from other minds.

In this way, the Protestants appeared! Thanks to them, the world was not the same anymore. The rethinking of religion in strictly Biblical terms has had effects not only on the spiritual level. The social emancipation of Bible readers became undeniable. Recognition of human value has boosted research and progress. Higher ethics of work has led to the development of the economy. The advance of countries like Germany, Switzerland, England, France and then America owes enormously …to Protestantism!

500 years after its birth, the protest seems to be on the verge of being … buried! Which elements of what constituted its ideological core of force should be considered … retrograde?

1. What should we give up? Maybe the “Sola Scriptura” principle. Meaning “Just Scripture.” Because it is outdated. Is there a danger that the Bible could be “outdated” as long as we cannot keep up with it? And what can be put in place: relativism? tradition? pyre? middle age superstition?

2. What should we give up? Maybe the “Solus Christus” principle. In other words, “Only Christ as the exclusive mediator between God and men.” Just so that we can console ourselves with hilarious ideas that “until God the saints will eat us up” Or to make place in worship for Buddha and the God of Fire, or the Wind, or any other form of our mind?

3. Which principle should be canceled? Maybe the “Sola Gratia” principle. Which means “saved only by grace.” Only if we particularly want to return to the trading and the mercantilism of salvation based on silver. And this at the expense of the privilege of personal relationship with the Divine!

4. What should be removed? Maybe the “Sola Fide” principle. Meaning “Only by faith” – which Luther called “the doctrine according to which the church stands or collapses.” And replace it with the religion of good deeds. For the satisfaction of a God whom the medieval conception suggested to be insatiable, capricious and minimalist.

5. Or finally – renouncing the last Protestant principle, “Soli Deo Gloria” – “Glory to God alone”. And so to divide the worship of the Triune God with the hugging of the trees (like the druids), bowing in front of the flowers (like the pantheists), or with kisses sent to the sun, in order to be more gently in the days of our industrial expansion.

Which of these principles is today outdated?

After 500 years since the German Reformer, the Wittenberg crossroad offers the world two directions:

– One: the ecumenical direction, the reconciliation through theological concessions. But! If you tie two birds together, they will not fly better, although there will be four wings. In fact, they will not fly at all!

– Two: Direction of Continuing and Completing Scriptural Reform! For the century they lived, the Protestants have done enormously. They brought Christianity out of a dull darkness of wandering. But it remained in the shadows. The Scripture still offers vast unexplored spiritual resources. Such as, for example, the subject of the expectation of the return of Christ!

“If the reform were to end and the protest would be over, we would be witnessing something more than the suicide of Europe,” wrote journalist Douglas Murray. “We would witness the beginning of the collapse of human civilization on Terra.”

Wittenberg 2017. I believe the Reformation must continue. Because it is not mainly about Luther or a church from 500 years ago, but about our life, about a present that we want to be better, but especially about a future that awaits us.

After all, the difference is between people who believe in the REVELED religion and people who believe in a RELATIVE religion.

This is my opinion. Stefan Tomoiaga for OPINIA PRODUCTION.

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