by Terry M. Smith
This year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s presentation of his 95 Theses. It was a protest to uphold Christ’s grace within Roman Catholic teaching and practice.
Luther’s protest led to the Protestant Reformation, and, within that, the Radical Reformation. Anabaptists are linked to both parts. That’s why referring to the Protestant (Radical) Reformation illustrates that one is housed within the other. Our indebtedness is to the whole and to the particular.
This year the Lutheran World Federation is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Also this year the Mennonite World Conference is also starting a multi-year study of the Reformation. In gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, in 2017 we will celebrate the Protestant (Radical) Reformation through lead articles and vignettes.
Neither Luther nor Menno wanted part of the Christian Church to be named after them. It is enough to be called Christian, a high and holy calling. Sadly, the churches that developed under their leadership would, over centuries, be critical of each other. One would persecute the other.
Remarkably, the Lutheran World Federation recently apologized for the persecution of
Anabaptists by its forebears and Mennonite World Conference responded with forgiveness. It was a time of reconciliation, tears, and joy.
Reflecting on the Church then and now, on both our indebtedness and modern challenges, is complex. The task, with prayer, is necessary.
“And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:14-15).