Is the divide between Protestants and Catholics growing or shrinking?
THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:
The Atlantic attached that overwrought headline to a sober analysis of internal Catholic tensions written by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.
No, Francis won’t, despite weighty issues the article surveyed. But a dramatic “break” did actually happen, beginning in 1517 when Martin Luther posted what history calls the “95 Theses.” The German Catholic priest protested sales of indulgences to help the pope build St. Peter’s Basilica “with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.” (Text here.)
Thus began the Protestant Reformation, which quickly raised many other church issues, defied the papacy, split European Christendom, changed the course of civil society and government — and echoes loudly to the present day.
The big 500th anniversary upcoming in 2017 will feature academic confabs and many other observances. The Religion Guy has already received a glossy brochure mailed by the German tourist agency titled “Luther 2017: 500 Years Since the Reformation.” A subhead reads “In the beginning was the Word.”
Indeed, Luther’s Bible translation shaped the modern German language and inspired many other popular translations that supplanted Catholicism’s authorized Latin version. Sadly, Luther’s own devotion to the Bible and its teachings has a diminishing hold on the nominal Protestants of his homeland.