Over the past few years, three members of my very Protestant extended family have become Roman Catholic. All of these conversions were undertaken with little or no contact with the other persons. These shifts have deepened the question that all of us face, particularly on Reformation Day: What is the future of Protestantism, particularly Reformed Protestantism?
In our Book of Order we say that we are distinguished from Roman Catholics by three watchwords: grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. But very few if any of us would maintain that those distinctions are still the fundamental issues that divide us from Roman Catholics. The past few years have brought us a major agreement on justification by the Lutherans and Catholics, and many Protestants admit to open admiration for the current pope. I even think of my own children who learned more about the Bible from attending a Roman Catholic VBS than from the VBS at our home Presbyterian Church.
In our Book of Order we find: “The church affirms Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei, that is, ‘The church reformed, always to be reformed according to the Word of God’ in the power of the Spirit [F-2.02].” If this is indeed true, then we need to ask: What kind of re-forming are we called to in a time when our previous re-forming doesn’t make the same kind of sense that it used to?
Along with remembering and appreciating the past, on this Reformation Day, let us look to the future, to what God may be calling us to, as people called by God, justified by Christ, and sent by the Spirit.
Charles Wiley, Associate Director, Theology, Formation, and Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Reformation Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Staff, Office of Theology and Worship
Let us pray
Gracious God, you have called us to faithfulness to your son, Jesus Christ. Guide us through your Spirit, that we may be faithful to you in the future as your saints have been faithful to you in the past. Give us openness to a future we cannot see.
In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.