The Protestant Reformation took place 500 years ago on Oct. 31, 1517. That day Martin Luther nailed 95 Thesis to the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. Thus, began centuries of war between the Catholic and Protestant churches which ultimately faded out.
The 500 year anniversary of the Reformation will be on Oct. 31, 2017, but while many Protestants will be celebrating their Protestant heritage many have had Reformations of their own.
Some students have or are planning on returning to the Catholic Church. Others have rejected what they see as an unloving church in their specific Protestant denomination.
OBU Alumni, Gabriel Gordon, had this to say on his Reformation,
“Ironically for me my deconstruction would not have been possible without OBU. I am a natural questioner whether it’s the secularist atheists or the Evangelical Fundamentalists, I almost imagine that if I had gone to a secular school I would have become more of a evangelical fundamentalist, which also happens to be my own background. Coming to OBU I was as conservative theologically and politically as one could be. I identified myself with the Tea Party and as a strong 6 day creationist. My slogan was “If the Bible says it I believe it!” That in itself became extremely ironic as many of my beliefs which were supposedly “biblical” were actually 21st century post enlightenment modern assumptions that I read onto the biblical authors and the texts which they had written.
My sophomore year I spent sometime back in my home state of Washington and for a couple of days I spent some time fasting. During that fast the Holy Spirit spoke too me (which is almost a taboo concept on a campus that has a stronger commitment to the Bible than to Holy Spirit) asking me a question. “If you were to lose everything, your ability to go to OBU, a future wife and family, money, a house to live in, your spiritual gifts and calling, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and if you were to lose THE BIBLE! Would I BE ENOUGH?” The question slapped me right in the face! Everything Godself listed was good things, but they all had become idols. Especially the Bible.
A couple of weeks later the Holy Spirit spoke to me again asking me to ask him what he wanted to tell me. I played along and said okay, “what do you want to tell me?” The Holy Spirit replied, “I AM Enough.” This blew me away even more than the question had. I say all that to say that not only do I believe but more importantly I trust that the Holy Spirit is the one who has invited me into this journey of deconstruction. Invited me to question, doubt, and wrestle with my faith. During my time at OBU I certainly did this, and the more I learned about the Bible, church history, theology, etc, the more I realized all these things were pointing me to the only thing that can truly give me life, and that’s Jesus!
Deconstruction allows for God to remove the idols that we have been given by our families and churches. For me coming into OBU as a freshman the Bible was the foundation of my faith, and God ripped that out from underneath me. Because as awesome as the Bible is, Yahweh is greater, and he is a much better foundation to our faith.
As Jesus is recorded to have said in the gospel of John 5:39-40, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they they testify on my behalf yet you refuse to come to me to have life!” Often like the Pharisees we replace Christ with good things, but then when we do we’re no longer actually worshipping the person that those things point too. C.S Lewis said it this way:
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”
I spent my time at OBU in deconstruction, (though if God is infinite and beyond comprehension then I’m not sure deconstruction ever truly ends) I’d say now I’m reconstructing. I came to OBU as a Fundamentalist Evangelical, and left not really as a Protestant, Catholic, or an Eastern Orthodox. I affirm the basic tenants of the Christian faith that all those traditions agree on, and yet I’m sort of in no mans land, just trying to follow Jesus. If your deconstructing it’s hard and sometimes you feel alone and afraid. But your not alone. Come find me your brother in the same journey the Holy Spirit is now inviting you to take.”
Christopher Thrutchley, 2015 OBU Alum, provided a quote paraphrasing Hans Urs von Balthasar to describe his personal Reformation from Protestantism to Catholicism.
“What separates Protestants from Roman Catholics is not merely ideas, but open wounds.”
These personal Reformations are being felt and experienced by many different people of various backgrounds. The state of the American Church seems to be shifting as we have seen with the SBC convention’s reluctance to accept the resolution condemning the alt-right, divisions in the church on social issues, etc. These Reformations will no doubt continue into the future and religious landscapes are sure to be altered in the future.