martin-luther-95-theses-e1268997282362On or around October 31, many Protestant churches celebrate “Reformation Sunday” which commemorates Martin Luther’s nailing of 95 Thesis to the front door of All Saints Church, Wittenberg; a college town in north-east Germany. Luther’s rant began with his theological disapproval of Paper Indulgences (a written piece of paper from the Church shortening the amount of time people would spend in punishment purgatory).

Luther had no intention of breaking away from the western church headquartered in Rome, due to the invention of the printing press Luther’s thesis was published, and the formal process of the Reformation began splintering the church, enabling the creation of Enlightenment, changing the course of humanity.

The church in Rome lost power to control and dictate thought as well as managing the future of nations. Of the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant quite adequately named the process as, “the emergence of man from his self-imposed infancy.”

In two years we’ll be approaching the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, and it makes me wonder of we are losing sight of what Luther’s had begun. Martin Luther, in 1517, took on the status quo, challenging accepted sociopolitical structures as a means of life. Luther looked at doctrine, not as a means of allowing people to thrive, but saw that that the church enveloped doctrine as a means of total control not only of people, but of nations and people’s well-being.

Over the years, the Protestant church in Europe entered into the fray, and slowly but surely fell into the trap of telling people how to think, and how to act, turning once Catholic countries into nations espousing Protestantism, thereby creating a circle of religious freedom into nations just as tyrannical as the preceding regime led by Popes. Self-imposed infancy once again became the norm, not from a centralized church in Rome, but by individuals claiming to know the truth, using power and might to impose yet another theocracy all in the name of “Scripture Alone.”

We, the Protestant church in the United States, though protected from a theocracy by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, has worked its way into the establishment of society sometimes afraid to speak out for fear of losing wealthy members, and our jobs and pensions.

I suggest on Reformation Sunday, the church once again should take it upon itself to present  to each community it inhabits making known what they stand for, not in religious terms, that’s too easy, but to name what is preventing society from flourishing, and to say we stand against this inadequacy.

Here’s my list:

  1. People should be paid a living wage (Matt. 20, Parable of the Vineyard Workers)
  2. Fair Distribution of food so that people are not starving (Mark 6, Feeding of the 5000)
  3. Respecting human dignity (Matt. 25, Parable of the Sheep and Goats)
  4. Helping to eliminate homelessness (Isa. 58:6-8)
  5. Helping our neighbors (Mark 12:28, the greatest commandment)
  6. Abhorring violence in all forms (Romans 12:9-21)
  7. Welcoming the stranger (Jeremiah 22:3)
  8. ?????? (Keeping adding to the list…mine was just to get you started)

The Protestant Church should once again become the protestant church, not waging war against each other, but waging a campaign to remove the yoke of violence, hunger, pain, iniquity, and pestilence. I think that is a group good people might want to join, and then they can find out that we are meant to participate with God to bring about a new world.