As you may already aware, this year is the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the 16c. European Reformations. Like most historical anniversaries, choosing which events to count as the “start” of this complex history is a little difficult, but Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on Indulgences makes a pretty good choice. It’s made even better that this event has been celebrated at each of its centenaries.
The featured image on this post is from the first such centenary, and it’s hard to overemphasize how different the tone of this year’s events is from each of the previous four. Notice how Luther’s quill is quite literally splitting the papal lion through the ears. The artist clearly thought that this pen was mightier than the sword!
There are many events happening across the world as we approach the end of October. Those of you who are within driving distance of Minneapolis or Collegeville might want to stop in for what promises to be a truly engaging discussion – starting tonight!
For those of you who, like me, are farther from Minnesota, you will be able to tune in right here for another way to commemorate this anniversary. Over the next couple months, I’ll be penning entries for Pray Tell that engage with one of the theological responses to the anniversary, the Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist. This document was the product of the US Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, and a pdf is available on the US Bishops’ website.
I’ve chosen to write about the US document, and not the International Dialogue’s response to the anniversary for a couple of reasons. First, the international document From Conflict to Communion has gotten quite a lot of attention in the last year. Second, I think that the narrower emphasis of the Declaration on the Way (DW) might be more helpful to the Pray Tell readership. DW focuses on three major theological areas in which ecumenical progress has been made, but in which we have not yet reached the kind of consensus that we have on Justification. These are: church, ministry, and eucharist, and each should be of interest to readers of a blog devoted to liturgical concerns!
So, here’s what you can expect: Next week I’ll post an introduction to the document overall. After that, I’ll write at least one post on each of the content areas of DW, and I’ll end the series with a post about the ecumenical importance of the DW and some thoughts on where the ecumenical conversation seems to be heading.
In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a look around at what events are happening in your area. This 500th anniversary is the first centenary of the Reformation that Protestants and Catholics have commemorated together — and that is itself worth a celebration!