Friday, January 30, 2009

Who would want to execute a man such as this?

The great mystery of liberal Christianity is not the rejection of the horrific Old Testament accounts of mass killings decreed by an angry God.

Or that it then follows that the far more horrific idea of eternal punishment in hell for the sin of disbelief must be rejected—even though the bulk of that teaching comes to us not in the Old Testament but in the New, from that nice fellow Jesus who would make a great son-in-law. A red-letter sampling:

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt 5:22)

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matt 5:29)

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:5)

Since a liberal Christian’s Jesus would not be so unloving—those verses and similar inconvenient passages: away with you!

And then there are those pesky miracles. Not of the Old Testament, but of the new. Bishop John Shelby Spong, the poster child for liberal Christianity, writes:

Moving closer to the life of Jesus, scholars now suggest that miracles were added to the Jesus story only in the 7th and 8th decades of the Christian era.

The Virgin birth and the suggestion that resurrection meant physical resuscitation are products of the 9th decade, and the account of Jesus' ascension enters the tradition only in the 10th decade.

And on the Resurrection, where Bishop Spong writes:

Those [liberals] who waver on this foundational truth [the Resurrection] of Christianity have, according to this perspective [of the fundamentalists] abandoned the essential core of their faith tradition. Well, my only comment on this would be to borrow the words from an old song and say, "It ain't necessarily so!"

As for the divinity of Christ:

The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes the divinity of Christ, as traditionally understood, impossible.

Try wrapping your head around that. Now to be fair, Spong is not a Christian at all. He is a Gnostic. But he claims to be a Christian, and liberal Christians welcome him as one of their own, so we'll accept him for the sake of argument.

So: No hell. No miracles. No Divinity. No Resurrection.

The great mystery of liberal Christianity is this: after all that is removed, who would want to crucify such a Jesus? It would be like crucifying Mr. Rogers.

Spong's answer to this mystery is that Jesus was executed--because he was behaving like a threatening combination of Cesar Chavez and and Che Guevara. (Of course without being the murderer that Guevara was. Just the good parts. Though I'm not sure Spong would consider Guevara to be a murderer.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life Imitating Art, or is it Vice Versa?

Primal Fear was a 1996 courtroom drama staring Richard Gere and Edward Norton. The former is one of my least favorite actors. (His repertoire consists of two expressions. One: a deer in the headlights. Two: a deer in the headlights with a quizzical smirk.) The latter, Norton, is one of my favorites. In this film Norton kills a priest and is defended by Martin Vail, a defense attorney played with his characteristic range by Gere. Norton’s character is named Aaron. Aaron, of poor white-trash origin, is mild, weak, obsequious, stuttering, helpless, learning disabled, harmless, abused, and out of place in gritty Chicago

There is no doubt Aaron is guilty of killing the perverted (of course) priest. His defense is schizophrenia. It turns out that 99% of the time Aaron is Milquetoast Aaron. But 1% of the time he is Roy, a self-assured crafty and violent predator.

With a timely and dramatic Aaron-to-Roy personality switch in court he convinces everyone of his mental illness. He is found innocent by reason of insanity. Victory for Aaron, and victory for his lawyer, Martin Vail.

Short lived as it was. After the verdict, back in the holding cell, Aaron makes a slip when talking to the credulous Vail who then realizes, too late, the schizo was all a sham. Aghast but helpless, Vail looks at his client and says: "So there never was a Roy." To which Aaron responds, after slipping at will out of his Aaron skin and into his Roy persona and donning a smirk of his own: "There never was an Aaron, Counselor."

Ouch. You gotta hate it when that happens.

This is a lead in to a question addressed to liberal Christians. You know the type: My God would not have commanded Joshua to ethnically cleanse the Canaanites. Never happened. My God is all about love your neighbor, including all ‘ites. The beatitudes. All that nice stuff. I don’t believe those Old Testament horror stories.

So my question is: when deciding what vast portions of scripture to jettison, why are you so certain that there never was a Roy? How do you know it’s not Aaron who is make believe?

I do not give our men and women in the military...

the thanks they deserve.

By way of apology, here is a picture of a USAF f-15 patrolling over Afghanistan.

Be sure to click to enlarge.

The definition of...

"hoisted with his own petard" should simply contain this link.

The money quote, from the San Francisco Chronicle:

(01-26) 20:04 PST -- Berkeley's public library will face a showdown with the city's Peace and Justice Commission tonight over whether a service contract for the book check-out system violates the city's nuclear-free ordinance.

The dispute centers on a five-year, $63,000 contract the library wants to sign with 3M, an international technology company based in Minnesota, to service five scanner machines library patrons use to check out books.

But 3M, a company with operations in 60 countries, refused to sign Berkeley's nuclear-free disclosure form as required by the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act passed by voters in 1986.

As a result, the library's self-checkout machines have not been serviced in about six months. Library officials say 3M is the only company authorized by the manufacturer to fix the machines, which were purchased in 2004.

I don't know about peace but I certainly sense some justice in all of this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yes, I'm full of something: Optimism

The difference between amillennialism and postmillennialism is said to be the degree of their optimism. Both views agree that the end-times will not include a post-rapture millennial kingdom with Christ reigning on earth, sitting on the throne of David amidst a rebuilt Jerusalem temple (complete with a resumption animal sacrifices! Abomination!) kick-started by a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation “third coming.”

The question that distinguishes the amillennialist and postmillennialist is this: what will be the condition of the church when Christ returns to end history?

This question, all would agree, should not be answered on the basis of whether we puny humans are optimistic or pessimistic. It should be answered on the basis of scripture. The question is then: does the bible promise that Christ will return to a church-victorious or a church that is stagnant or in decline?

Will the Great Commission be completed successfully, or prematurely mercy-killed by God as another reminder of inevitable human failure?

One such verse to consider is from the last book of the Old Testament:
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 1:11)
Nobody would disagree that this is a prophecy of God. A question is: has it been fulfilled? Is or has God’s name been great among the nations? Has in every place incense, metaphorically speaking, been offered to God’s name?

The amillennialist has to say yes. Or he has to say no, but this will happen after the end of history, which could occur as you are reading this post.

The postmillennialist says: this (and similar passages found throughout scripture) are promises that, in spite of how gloomy our situation appears, we will see fulfilled as part of human history, not after its terminus. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. The postmillennialist is supremely optimistic but not, he would say, without reason. He is optimistic because scripture is optimistic.

Optimism such as that found in the great Christmas postmillenial hymn that sings of a victorious church celebrating the first second advent:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

From the Bad Anagrams Department

The price one pays for lifting payloads into orbit is,

as every physics student knows, exponential. So only essential items should be taken up. This video contains no evidence of a violation of that rule.

HT: An old friend named huazix.

Obama Does it Right

In Obama's taking of the oath his office, Part Deux, he was sworn in without his hand on a bible.

That is entirely good and proper. For nowhere in the bible does it instruct us to use the book for cheap theatrics or as a poor man's polygraph. Telling the truth honors God—no more/no less if done with one hand on a manufactured representation of His Word. Telling a lie is rank disobedience to God, but not made the worse by doing so in the presence of a gift from the Gideons.

All sin, Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount, is a matter of the heart, not of trappings or overt actions. Killing is not required to make you a murderer--anger at your brother is sufficient.

Should I ever become President, I would announce this: Because I am a Christian, I will not take the oath of office with one hand on the bible. The doctrine of my faith informs me that to do so is a meaningless gesture. Let my yes mean yes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There is a God

I am a native Pittsburgher. I am a rabid NASCAR fan. Within a glorious two-week period: the Steelers will be in the Superbowl (again) and the 51st running of the Daytona 500 will take the green flag.

Life is good!

I Resemble That Remark

It happened again!

While entering Jefferson Lab I tailgated. In case you don't know, what that means is this: the doors unlock via a badge swipe. Someone who walks in behind you without swiping their badge is tailgating. I have been at places where that will get both people fired (the person who used his badge too, if he doesn't report the incident) and possibly your security clearance revoked, but at Jefferson Lab, which is a basic research facility and not a weapons lab, it's not a big deal. And it's a pain to say "sorry, let me close the door then use your badge to get in."

So tailgating is common. People usually will just hold the door for anyone close behind. But today the lady I was following turned and said: "Well, you look like a physicist, so come on in."

Look like a physicist? Bummer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Church History Lesson 2 (Time is Ripe: Part 1)

Note: I taught a Sunday School on Church History in 2004 in New Hampshire. Starting in February I'll be teaching the same course here in Virginia. So any posts, including the one below, and especially for the first half of the series, are more or less repeats.

A Great Rabbi Arrives in Corinth

(Note: generously adopting and lifting from F. F. Bruce's fantastic book: The Spreading Flame.)

A Roman couple, Priscilla and Aquila, arrived from the west. The great rabbi arrived from the east, from the province of Cilicia. He practiced the same trade as the Roman couple, and soon made their acquaintance. (Aside: their trade was more general than “tent maker”, more like a leather worker—perhaps not even making tents at all.)

This teacher was known to the Jews by the name Saul, but the Gentiles referred to him as Paul, anglicized from his Roman family name, Paullus. He was a Jew from Tarsus, and his father was Roman citizen, so he inherited that distinction.

As a young rabbinical student, Paul trained under the most revered rabbi of the day, Gamaliel the Elder. It had only been about 15-20 years since Jesus was seen ascending into heaven, and disciples from all nations were converted at Pentecost and began spreading the news of Jesus. From the beginning Paul, as a devout Jew, set about persecuting and condoning the murder of Jesus’ followers.

Then, astonishingly, Paul was himself was converted while traveling to Damascus, transformed from the greatest persecutor of Jesus to the greatest teacher and evangelist.

Paul was not seeking God. He was not wooed by God. His was perhaps the most blatantly Calvinistic conversion of all time. All believers are figuratively smacked offside the head, knocked to the ground, and converted in an act of divine sovereignty. For Paul it was also literal.

As he enters Corinth, around A.D. 50, neither Paul nor any other leader has been to Rome, nor has Paul, as of yet, written to the faithful in Rome. So imagine his amazement when he encountered two strangers from Rome who shared not only his occupation, but also his beliefs.

A few weeks after his arrival, two friends the Rabbi had left behind in Macedonia, men named Silas and Timothy, arrived in Corinth with supplies.

Because of his reputation, it was inevitable that soon after arriving, Paul was teaching at the Corinthian synagogue. As he read the holy writings, he would add to them, explaining how the prophecies had been fulfilled by Jesus. Some thought that his teachings were blasphemy, while others, especially among the Gentile God-fearers, believed what the rabbi taught concerning Jesus.

What exactly did the rabbi teach?

He taught that the long awaited "deliverer" had come. By this time, the Jews called the deliver Messiah, which means "anointed". The Greeks used the word christos for "anointed", which is Anglicized as Christ.

The greatest scandal arose when Paul taught that not only was this Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, but that he had died the most violent and ignominious death, that of crucifixion.

To many Greeks, preaching of a Messiah who could not save himself was sheer folly, and rather amusing. But to some of the Jews, it was worse, it was blasphemy. For crucifixion, far from signifying God’s supreme favor and blessing upon His people’s deliverer, indicated that this Jesus must have been cursed by God:
22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deut. 21:22-23)
But there is more.

Not only was the Christ hung from a tree, but on the third day he arose from the dead and was seen alive, after His death and burial, by His closest companions and more than 500 other disciples. And finally, the Rabbi taught, "He appeared to me as well." (1 Cor 15:1ff.)

Eventually the leader of the synagogue had enough of Paul's strange beliefs. He was told he could no longer teach to the Jewish faithful. This would prove to be a pattern.

Paul didn’t have to go far to find another place to meet. One of the God-fearers who believed Paul’s teaching was a Roman citizen named Gaius Titius Justus. Justus lived next door to the synagogue, and his house became the meeting place for the new Christian community of Corinth.

This new community made no distinction between Greeks and Jews. It required neither circumcision nor sacrifice. It had only one initiation rite: baptism by water. There was an additional, oft-repeated rite among the believers: a fellowship over a simple meal of bread and wine to which special importance was attached.

Amazingly, the leader of the synagogue that had expelled Paul, a man named Crispus, joined the Christians. Crispus would have been in charge of the physical arrangements for the synagogue and synagogue services. And now he, and his family, and many Gentile Corinthians believed and were baptized.

After Crispus had joined the Christians, the Jewish authorities had had enough.

They took their case against Paul to Gallio the Roman proconsul of Achaia. (An inscription has been uncovered that identifies Gallio as holding this position in A.D. 52, probably beginning in July A.D. 51. After a year in office he left for health reasons. A proconsul was a title for governors who ruled in provinces where no standing army was required. Proconsuls were under the nominal control of the senate, while governors whose province required an army were under the direct control of the emperor.)

The Jews accused Paul of creating a new, unlicensed (as required by Roman law) and hence illegal, religion.

In would seem, providentially, that Gallio could not be bothered. Before Paul even defended himself, Gallio dismissed the case, ruling that Paul was not teaching a new religion but a variant of Judaism, so this matter was an internal dispute and of no concern to Rome.

Apollos the Alexandrian

After about a year and a half, Paul and the Roman couple left Corinth for Ephesus. Paul continued, bound for Palestine and Jerusalem, leaving Priscilla and Aquila behind.

A few months after Paul left Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila, who had stayed in Ephesus, met another Jew on his way to Corinth, another highly educated man like Paul. His name was Apollos; he was a native of Alexandria in Egypt. A renowned orator, he had been teaching what he knew of Jesus, but he had substantive gaps in his knowledge. For example, he was teaching not of baptism in the name of Jesus, but an older form of baptism associated with a wilderness preacher named John who came just before Jesus and whose preaching, announcing that that the time was ripe, presaged the coming of the Messiah. John’s baptism was a token of repentance rather than an initiation into the community of Christ.

In Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos, filling in the gaps in his understanding of Jesus. After they finished teaching him, they provided him with a letter of introduction to the Corinthian community, an Apollos set off across the Aegean sea. There he taught the Corinthian Christians, and is evident that his academic style, being especially suitable for Greek culture, was well received.

More Visitors to Corinth

Not long after Apollos, some of the twelve Palestinians who had been closest to Jesus and who witnessed his resurrection arrived in Corinth. It is likely that Peter, the leader of the twelve, visited. We know this because Paul had occasion to write to the Corinthian church and chastise them for breaking in factions, one faction following Paul because of his heritage as a great rabbi, one following Apollos because of his skillful oratory, and one following Peter because of his first-hand association with Jesus.

Paul told the Corinthians that all three "leaders" of the rival schools were legitimate messengers, but they were messengers only. If the Corinthians wanted to call themselves followers of someone, it should be followers of He in whose name they were baptized. They should be called Christians.


So in about A.D. 50-55, travelers from four different locations, already connected by this new form of Judaism that acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, arrived in Corinth. The fact that some were from Rome and Egypt, and yet they were followers of this new sect, less that two decades after his death should not be overlooked.

We need to learn more about this new movement and how it was shaking synagogues and Jewish communities throughout the Roman empire to their core.

The time was ripe. An interesting question: Was the Roman empire a stumbling block or a necessity?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Church History Lesson 1: Introduction

Note: I taught a Sunday School on Church History in 2004 in New Hampshire. Starting in February I'll be teaching the same course here in Virginia. So any posts, including the one below, and especially for the first half of the series, are more or less repeats.

Why Study Church History?

Before we launch into a semester long study, it is reasonable to ask the question: why? Why study church history.

There are several answers that come to mind, including the fact that it is simply interesting.

However, not everyone finds history fascinating. So we look for a more important reason, a reason that is hard to put into a slogan.

Surely it's related to the well known aphorism of George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. However, there is more to it than that. There is also the aspect that when we go beyond the facts (i.e., that the early church declared some sacred truth, such as the trinity) and ask why it did so, we will have to dig deep into scripture and theology (and sometimes politics) to understand the reasons.

So, I would say we study church history:

  1. To avoid the heresies of the past.

  2. To understand the theology behind actions taken by the church.

  3. To understand how decisions were made in context.

  4. Because it is interesting.

In this first class, before getting into the nitty-gritty, let's look at some anecdotal and circumstantial evidence.

The Nicene Creed

In AD 325, a council of more than 300 bishops met in Nicaea, a small town about forty-five miles from Constantinople (Istanbul).

Presently we will have much to say about this council, but for now let's look at the council's product, the Nicene Creed (as originally formulated):
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit.

Before looking more closely at the creed, we should agree on a definition. The Catholic Encyclopedia reads:

[A] creed is a summary of the principal articles of faith professed by a church or community of believers.

So by creed, we mean a sort of minimal doctrine of our faith. If you don't affirm a creed, then you are outside the pale of orthodoxy; you are an apostate church.

Now suppose we had no knowledge of the Nicene Creed, and were charged to develop a creed that summarizes our core beliefs. What might we include? Would we emphasize, as the council of Nicaea did:

begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father

Careful: I am not asking whether we agree with this statement, obviously we do. I am asking if we would consider making such a big wordy deal about it?

It is plausible that we would not. We would probably say that Jesus is/was fully God and fully man and leave it at that.

Why did the council of Nicaea make such a big deal of this? Because they were convened to address this precise question, to face the challenge of a widespread heresy (Arianism, of which we will have much more to say) that denied the substance, eternality and ultimately the divinity of Christ.

In short, we have this dynamic:
  • The early church faced a heresy wherein the true nature of Christ was denied.

  • A council was convened to address this heresy.

  • A creed was developed to teach the proper view on the nature of Christ.

Christians now view this doctrine as obvious, so much so that the emphasis placed upon it by the Nicene Creed seems a little overboard.

However, any puzzlement on the emphasis of the Nicene Creed vanishes if we understand the historic context. That is one reason why we study church history.

By the way, is there anything missing from the Nicene Creed that we would add? Yes, one obvious omission: a more explicit statement of the doctrine of the trinity. We will find out as we study why an explicit reference to the trinity is not in this creed.

Is there anything we would remove? Well, one denomination would generally (but not universally) say yes. And they would be mistaken.

Baptists and the Nicene Creed

We don't say the Nicene Creed in our (Baptist) church. Why? I’m not really sure, but there are several possible reasons.
  • It can lead to meaningless, rote recital. This is certainly true. Saying it every week would no doubt lead to many saying without even thinking about the words. However, this argument cannot be used as a reason for never reading it as a body.

  • It smacks of "high church" ritualism. Again, it can be used ritualistically. But the fact that it is used by the Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. does not detract from the truth that it was written at a time when there really was one catholic church.

  • It contains doctrinal error. Specifically it states:

We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

To many this sounds of a baptism that is far more than a commemoration of Christ's work and a public testament of a believer's faith. However, even for Baptists, this is no reason to discard the creed—for the creed is so general in what is states regarding baptism that all major denomination—even Baptists—can conform their doctrine to it. After all, in scripture we have:
38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.' (Acts 22:16)

So however any denomination reconciles these and other passages with their view of baptism, they can apply the same reasoning (regardless of its validity) to the Nicene Creed.

In short, there is no reason for Baptists to reject, or even maintain reluctance towards, the Nicene Creed.

History Repeats

We stated that a reason for studying church history is to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. The Nicene Creed addressed the denial of the substance and eternality of Christ. Are such heresies a thing of the distant past?

The doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses include:

  • God is a solitary being who alone has existed from all eternity.

  • There is no trinity.

  • Jesus is a creature, the beginning of God's creation, and the agent in the creation of all other things.

  • The Holy Spirit is not a person but God's active force in the world.

The doctrines of the LDS (Mormons) include:

  • "God himself was once as we now are, and is an exalted man" Brigham Young, The Journal of Discourses, Volume VI, p. 3.

  • "In the beginning the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it." The Journal of Discourses, Vol. VI, p. 3.

  • "You have got to learn to be gods yourselves and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you", The Journal of Discourses, Vol. VI, p. 4.

  • "Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say this is a very strange God anyhow...all are to be crammed into one God." E.F. Parry, Joseph Smith's Teaching, p. 55.

  • In the Mormon Catechism for Children, you find this question (13) and answer:

    Q: Are there more Gods than one?
    A: Yes, many.

  • "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's", Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, CXXX, 22; CXXXI, 7)

In both Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism we find doctrines that are completely at odds with the Nicene Creed. The heresies of the past are dealt with and then forgotten, only to be reborn. There are many examples of this; we will also see how New Age mysticism is a rehash of another heresy (Gnosticism) present in the early church.

The Canon of Scripture

I once received this email:

I read your blog occasionally, and it struck me that you might be someone who could at least point me in the right direction. The basic question I have is why aren't writings from Martin Luther added as part of the biblical canon?

This is a wonderful and striking question. For no matter how devoted we might be to the teachings of Luther, we do not advocate elevating his writings to the level of inspired and inerrant scripture.

The writer's question is: but why not?

How would you answer that question, fellow Protestant?

I submit that the proper answer requires an understanding of church history. Without some knowledge of the church arrived at the canon of scripture, I would not know how to respond beyond a simple minded "because obviously we shouldn’t."

To flesh this out just a little, it is very valuable to ask questions about the canon. The bible contains sixty-six books. Some fair questions are:

  • Is scripture inerrant?

  • Are our translations of scripture inerrant?

  • How did we come up with the sixty-six books? What was the process?

  • Is it possible that we omitted some books that should have been included, or included some books that don't really belong?

  • How is all of this connected with and consistent with the cherished Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone?)
Studying church history will lead us to answers of these questions.

The Reformation

A final brief example of the need to study church history is the Reformation. Ask a modern Protestant why there was a Reformation, and you are likely to get an answer centered upon the sale of indulgences.

This is not true. Luther's 95 theses were primarily related to corruption in the church, corruption that the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges.

The Reformation was not about corruption, for corruption can be addressed without schism. The Reformation was about irreconcilable doctrinal differences, primarily on the doctrine of justification, or how a sinful man is made acceptable before a Holy God.

Today many Protestants do not understand the doctrine of justification as taught by the reformers, and consequently entire denominations have drifted back to the point where their position on man's role in his own salvation is closer to the Roman Catholic view than it is to the views of Luther, Calvin, and other reformers. At the same time, and ironically, many have actually become more "anti-Catholic", emphasizing not the disputes which resulted in the schism (such as sola fide) but secondary issues like Marian doctrine.

As Protestants, we need to understand the real reasons for the Reformation or else erroneously concede that it was much ado about nothing.