The Reformation at Five Hundred

From the November 2014 Print Edition

On October 25, many churches will once again observe “Reformation Sunday,” commemorating the day in 1517 when Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses concerning theological reform on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Saxony. This event continues to be regarded as the birth of Protestantism. We now stand just three years out from the five-hundredth anniversary, which will be marked worldwide in 2017. Churches, institutions, and individuals shaped by what began so many centuries ago face a daunting question: How in fact ought one to commemorate the Reformation five hundred years after the fact?It’s not an easy question to answer. Protestantism, it should be remembered, has not only been credited for restoring Christian truth (or, on the other hand, blamed for church divisions) but has been invoked as the cause of modern liberalism, capitalism, religious wars, tolerance, democracy, individualism, subjectivism, nationalism, pluralism, freedom of conscience, modern science, secularism, and so much else. How, in fact, does one remember a historical juggernaut of such immense influence and so many contested interpretations—one that, to quote one ­nineteenth-century historian, “impelled the human mind to new courses”? Continue Reading »

Evangelical Advantages

From the February 2012 Print Edition

The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith Brazos, 234 pages, $22.99 How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps by Christian Smith Cascade, 205 pages, $24 Most of the time, Christian . . . . Continue Reading »

Selling God

From the August/September 1994 Print Edition

In holy writ, the conjunctions between authentic faith and the worlds of commerce are strangely varied: the Hebrew Scriptures contain much in the Pentateuch on the protection and use of property, but a different realm of existence is central to the prophets: “Ho, every one who thirsts, come . . . . Continue Reading »

Cold Dawn at the Shelter

From the December 1993 Print Edition

(For Alva Steffler) Last Christmastide the angel came at six fifteen. While volunteers began to poke the guests awake, collect the mats, and fix the coffee for the breakfast line, the smoke rose from first cigarettes, and one large man groaned off the floor, breath harsh, a map of beet- red lines . . . . Continue Reading »

Ignorant Armies

From the April 1993 Print Edition

The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism by Ronald L. Numbers Knopf, 458 pages, $27.50 Ronald L. Numbers, who holds a chair in the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, has performed a desperately needed service in this book, and he has performed it very . . . . Continue Reading »