That’s a good question: is a new reformation under way in the Church and in world religions?
Historian Phyllis Tickle would say yes. Some church and world religion leaders would say yes.
This new reformation won’t be quite like the Protestant Reformation of 500 years ago—next year is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest in Wittenberg, Germany. The Protestant Reformation, which produced the protestant denominations, grew out of necessary reforms to the Church and society and had lasting implications.
According to Tickle today’s reformation is more difficult to pin down. Tickle claims that a reformation era takes about 100 years to crumble and another 100 years before the new direction comes clear. Perhaps in this post-modern world, that crumbling is accelerated because of advances in communication technology. Some scholars point to the Holocaust as a signal that Christendom and the Protestant Reformation period has ended. We now live in a post-Christendom, post-modern, post-Protestant Reformation period.
Tickle says that this new emerging reformation has not yet shown its colours. It may be about the Spirit and the Spirit’s penchant for disrupting the status quo. The Spirit calls forth new communities of justice and practice, new movements of hope and compassion. The Spirit may be calling for a movement beyond Sunday morning or Saturday night worship. And some scholars affirm that the Spirit is calling people of world religions to come together to advocate for climate justice, economic justice, gender justice, racial justice, peace and liberation, and an end to trans- and homo-phobia.
John Dominic Crossan, a modern contextual theologian has suggested that the long arc of evolution leads to justice; he frames this statement in the idea that God’s intention for the universe is distributive justice—that is, justice fairly distributed and accessed by all, not just the privileged few.
This post was published in the Nelson Star on the Tapestry page November 4th.