I think most people, especially those who call themselves Christian, are at least a little familiar with the third great rummage sale in Christianity which was the Reformation. I will only give a very brief look in this post. Martin Luther, a monk with an incredibly low self-image, started it in 1517 when he nailed his list of 95 complaints about the workings of the church on the Wittenberg church door. Martin’s initial goal was to try to turn the church from corruption of its day. But, due to bruised egos he ended up causing the second great schism in the church.
Luther would not be the only person who would separate from the catholic church; many more would follow.
- John Calvin in 1534 followed Luther in forming his own church. Whereas Luther decided that the most important part of the bible was that we are saved by grace alone and works don’t really matter, Calvin went even further to believe that God simply chooses certain people to give his grace and everyone else is doomed to an eternal agony regardless of how they lived their lives or what they chose to believe.
- Ulrich Zwingli would started a Swiss reformation in 1523.
- The Anabaptist movement began in 1525. They did not favor church bureaucracies such as pope and bishops. Like most of the reformation proponents this group would later split into many others arguing over doctrinal and beliefs differences.
- In 1523 King Henry VIII split due marriage issues around wanting to marry Anne Boleyn. He started the Church of England
- John Knox started the Scotland reform in 1559
- In 1608 John Smyth baptises the first Baptists. He fixated on the method of baptism for his split.
Over the centuries many others would jump onto the separatist bandwagon. Of course splitting over interpretation of sacred documents and other such things continues even now. It is believed that there are now over 39,000 different versions of Christianity in existence today.
Next time we will be talking more about the rummage sale that we are now engaged in. This time around some are basically trying to reassemble the church around actions rather than man-made beliefs. The emergent movement has some exciting possibilities in that regard.
Let’s close out this post with another visit into the book The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. This time about the coming age:
Now, some five hundred years later, even many of the most diehard Protestants among us have grown suspicious of “Scripture and Scripture only.” We question what the words mean— literally? Metaphorically? Actually? We even question which words do and do not belong in Scripture and the purity of the editorial line of descent of those that do. We begin to refer to Luther’s principle of “sola scriptura, scriptura sola” as having been little more than the creation of a paper pope in place of a flesh and blood one. And even as we speak, the authority that has been in place for five hundred years withers away in our hands. “Where now is the authority?” circles overhead like a dark angel goading us toward disestablishment. Where indeed?