Is This the Second Reformation?

Generally speaking, the reformation is considered to be the time when the protestant church was born.  I say generally, because it was a complex time.  Many things were changing. 

Today, times are complex as well.  There is one thing that appears indisputable.  People are leaving the organized church in large numbers.

I’ve been reading some solutions on Christian websites for turning around this trend.  They include rather silly suggestions like setting goals and sticking to them, sprucing up  of churches, finding the right leadership and so on. 

To me, there appear to be some parallels to the refomation period.  Leading up to the reformation, the Catholic Church was criticized for selling indulgences, licensing of brothels, teaching false doctrines and of having institutional rigidity.

Today, churches do not license brothels, but they are plagued by sexual abuse.  Some churches teach doctrines that the majority of the public think are false, such as the condemation of homosexuality. And, institutional rigidtiy, it’s there in spades.

I would admit there are many differences between today’s events and those of the original reformation period.  But what seems true is that the Catholic Church of the 1500′s did not respond to the changing times.  Today’s conservative churches are not responding much either. 

The “leave-the-church” train has left the station.  Churches can either run and catch up or bend the track to bring it back to them.

Track bending did not work in the 1500′s.  It won’t work today.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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11 Responses to Is This the Second Reformation?

  1. Brad Campbell says:

    Jon, the church does not have to respond or change to your so called “changing times”. The Bible has not changed over the last 2k years, unless altered by translations…ie, the Jehova Witnesses. What society deems “normal, or insisting what is normal” does not make the church have to conform to that thought.

    Christian believers, like myself, believe in the teachings of the Bible and what society today tells us is “normal” will not “derail” our faith.

    Society is very different than the society of my grandmother ( still living at 102). In gram’s youth the church was the center of the community and the people. If someone came to town and needed help, the first place they went to was the church and people responded. Over the course of our nation’s history, which has become more securlarized, people have turned away from the church for help and looked to the government. As with western Europe, many in our country want the same thing for us…..a society dependant on the government for all of its needs.

    You say most of society approves of homosexuality? I disagree with that. A person can skew statistics anyway they want but most polls I have seen on the issue is that a majority of Americans do not agree with that lifestyle. I for one, do not teach my daughter’s that this lifestyle is appropriate or right. In fact, I think it is a sin. Now does that make me a bigot or racist in your mind? It would in some.

    There are over 1 billion Catholics on this planet along with another 1 billion Orthodox and Protestant Christians. 1 1/2 billion Muslims……1 billion Hindus……1/2 billion Buddhists. To me that says…….religion is very important to almost 85% of the world’s population.

    Changing times? In your eyes….maybe. In mine…no. The Bible has been the word to which my beliefs have been formed and will continue to be so. Marin Luther was a catholic priest that questioned the church’s doctrine and that salvation came thru faith not good deeds done.

    I had an economics class with you in the late 80s at NDSU and found it interesting even though I didn’t particularly like econ. I suspect at one time you went to church in your younger years and wonder what made you “stray” away from the church? I myself have left the mainstream ELCA Lutheran church over their doctrine now; and have found a more conservative Lutheran chruch that follows the Bible’s teachings.

    Maybe one day you will find a church that “speaks” to you. Keep me posted.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Thanks for commenting. You are certainly correct that there is no requirement for you or any church to change its views. People should retain whatever beliefs or theology helps them. I’m only pointing out that there are at least some similarities to the reformation, one being institutional rigidity. Something is causing church attendence and membership to stop growing as the population grows and for increasing numbers of people answering polls to say they no longer identify with a belief group. Why this is happening is of interest to me, but it does not interest everyone and I can understand that. All the best to you.

      • Brad Campbell says:

        Jon, why do you think America has become more secular, or should I say more “non-believers in religion?”

        I have my theories and would require a lot of writing on here but in a nutshell I believe it is technology. I mean our hectic lifestyles and ease of communication, ease of news gathering, ease of providing for basic needs.

        I bet, 2 generations ago or even 1, that most people went to church and believed in God. Look at the secular countries of Europe…..every year there are polls out with continual drop in religious attendance and belief. Even in the church I go to, there are fewer and fewer attendees…..sad.

        • Brad Campbell says:

          ….getting late….I meant the ease of society today has made people more self-centered. In the hectic pace of “life” many forget what is truely important…..God and family and treating people with love and kindness.

          • Brad Campbell says:

            Jon, just think. If Charles the Hammer (Charlemagne) hadn’t turned back the Muslims at Tours, we here in the US would be probably speaking Arabic and praying to Mecca.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Brad—Yes, my friend, I think you are absolutely correct. I wrote a blog a couple of months ago–I think the title was “The computer is the enemy of Jesus”. I just refreshed it so it might be scolling. My thinking is that the computer has replaced the church as the authority on issues of spirituality and morality. Like most things, it is probably more complicated than that, but it just seems like this affects people.

          • Brad Campbell says:

            Interesting discussions with you. I should have paid more attention in your economics class back in 90 or 91….lol.

            I don’t agree with some of your thoughts but it is still enjoyable to discuss these topics. It is nice to have a forum to do this.

            Happy New Year

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Brad–your 12:39 comment. And Happy New Year to you. I enjoy your comments and learn from them.

  2. Bobby Eaton says:

    Jon, I was researching information about the Catholic church licensing brothels. Can you provide reliable resources for my research? I would appreciate it.

    Secondly, Brad may be correct that technology has had an affect on the declining religious devotion, however, I think education is the most likely the main reason; a purpose in which I see the need to pursue more.

    There are several reasons to not believe in most religions, but there are many reasons to dismiss Christianity, for which I have yet to see a believer admit let alone refute. The Orthodox beliefs that are generally the same are incorrect since church has taken the Bible out of context and thus the Bible undermines Christian theology.

    Original Sin was not a result of disobedience, Gentiles are not eligible for salvation, and the need for salvation is unnecessary. These conclusions can easily be supported by the Bible.

    The Bible is a book about the Jews and God and Jesus were partial to the Jews. Gentiles being eligible for salvation was a Pauline idea and was not endorsed by God or Jesus. Therefore Jesus was not talking to us.

    Many of the actions of God show him to be deceitful, malicious, wrathful, unjust, boastful, quick to anger, irresponsible, sadistic, impatient, malevolent, unkind and morally corrupt. All attributes apparently characteristic of Satan and the opposite of love.

    The Bible tells us that those who are to be saved have been predestined since the foundation of the world which is unjust if all are supposed to be saved. God hardens the hearts of those who are not supposed to get the message, which makes him look malicious and means that we are saved or doomed no matter what we do.

    Paul says that god cannot be comprehended which means we cannot have an intimate relationship with someone we cannot understand and therefore get to know, which makes reading the Bible, going to church, praying for clarity and proselytizing useless.

    The most devastating evidence comes from Genesis Chapter 3, which dismisses the morality of the Bible, the need for salvation and shows God to be deceptive, morally corrupt, unjust, not omniscient (all-knowing) and either not possessing foresight or at least not being a good planner. The conclusions are also supported many times throughout the Bible.

    Death by sin did not occur by disobedience.

    It was the search for knowledge and the gaining of a conscience, that caused Adam and Eve to “become like God” as the serpent promised. This threat to his omnipotence and duplication of Satan’s insurrection caused him such a scare that he cursed them and denied them eternal life. God cursed them for gaining the tools that he failed to give them that would have given them free will, responsibility, the ability to govern their behavior and be less susceptible to deception. The irony about this story is that God put it on himself, (by creating them, allowing Satan to roam on earth and by planting temptation in the form of trees in the Garden), the consequences of which he should have foreseen. This concludes that god is a bad planner or he entrapped humanity from the beginning, while deceiving us all by passing blame. Is there an idea more corrupt than being blamed for the actions of your accuser? To make matters more corrupt and unjust, God cursed all of humanity for the blame he put on Adam and Eve. Even childbirth was a curse!

    More examples of God’s injustice of killing or cursing innocence for actions of the guilty happen time and time again in the Bible.

    If humans were to be responsible for their actions, fairness and justice requires that god gave them the ability to know wrong from right to enable them to make informed decisions, be less gullible to deception, understand obedience, be able to exercise free will, enable them to build their own character and be responsible for their own thoughts, emotions and actions; and enable to manage their own personal behavior.

    This God who Christians proclaim plans, sees & knows the future was outsmarted by two ignorant people whom he failed to give a conscience & thus the ability to make informed decisions. How can innocent people sin if they do not know the difference between right & wrong & how can he expect them to obey? A God who is so concerned with disobedience is a God who did not create humanity with a free will who could make their own mistakes, take responsibility and learn from them.

    Humanity should not even be in need of salvation, since before the predicament of “sin”, Genesis seems to indicate that humans should suffer permanent extinction. To live forever was the privilege of the gods, and because God saw Adam and Eve had “become like us”, for fear that they would eat the fruit of the tree of everlasting life they were driven from Eden. God gives no explanation of his sudden reversal, in the NT, of the decree of eternal life, the fate planned from the foundations of the world.

    Duty for God before humanity or self is the credo of terrorists. Authoritative cultures led by formal authority, like God’s authority has more dire consequences that moral authority. Followers passively obey an authority whom controls, waiting to do things until they are told. This is compounded when you have people believing some invisible friend tells them what to do. This behavior confirms the perception of the need for authority to command and control, which justifies the passivity and actions of the followers. It becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy.

    This disempowers people’s Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Intelligences and capacities and creates a society that is co-dependent, dysfunctional and emotionally unstable. Christianity for example is a religion of narcissism, sadism, neurosis and eliminates healthy conflict by developing dysfunctional disagreement that creates resentment, malicious obedience, anger and low trust which are often expressed in ugly ways.

    The authority, like God, becomes responsible for the results that replace rules for human judgment and critical thinking.

    Take into consideration that the bible tells us to rely on faith, not reason. Faith – which is not based on knowledge, experience or rational thought arising from doubt, replaces the search for truth. Faith is a cop out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith then you are conceding that it cannot be accepted by its own merits.

    Churches who teach people that they are helpless and worthless without God or Jesus & cannot learn and use personal power, self-efficacy or intelligence to build their character, learn valuable principles of social interdependence without god are institutions of ignorance, human indecency & immoral behavior.

    Personal responsibility (being responsible for your thoughts, emotions, actions and life) makes Christian theology and the need for salvation useless.

    As I have pointed out in one of my university classes recently, Christian theology contradicts and is incompatible with academic integrity and academic learning because it violates the principles & applications of critical thinking. In the face of contrary evidence to its merits, rational thinking arising from doubt is abandoned to avoid restructuring their thinking and remain in denial of its incorrect beliefs.

    Critical thinking in academic integrity is just as important as avoiding plagiarism (copying the work of another person and presenting it as your own). Critical thinking allows us to analyze, evaluate, explain and reframe our thinking to avoid adopting, acting on or thinking incorrect ideas. Critical thinking clarifies goals, evaluates evidence, examines assumptions and assertions, discerns hidden values, accomplishes goals and assesses conclusions.

    Until Christian religion reforms its beliefs of formal authority for real knowledge of psychosocial health based on facts it will always remain an institution of ignorance and delusions.

    We must be moral, good people out of a simple regard for human dignity, decency, interdependence and survival. We need trusted moral authority from leadership that chooses to live by principles of integrity, honesty, courage, consideration, humility, maturity, interdependence, empathy, inclusivenees, acceptance, loyalty, accountability, responsibility, potential, service, synergism, flexibility, love and compassion. This moral authority utilizes our greatest resource of the creative capacity of people who create alternatives with others of integrity who share a common vision of priorities and the values that you will achieve those priorities.

    Successful empowerment is a fundamental of working with a team to create win-win agreements and solutions.

  3. Bobby Eaton says:

    In his first post, Brad Campbell states in different paragraphs, “I for one, do not teach my daughter’s that this lifestyle is appropriate or right. In fact, I think it is a sin. Now does that make me a bigot or racist in your mind? It would in some…. The Bible has been the word to which my beliefs have been formed and will continue to be so.”

    Like most or all Christians, Brad has confessed that his moral beliefs are based on a formal authority, rather than the intrinsic ability to use critical thinking, assess information and make sound discernments of his own actions and standards. His ideas are external, arbitrary and are therefore have no personal value or critical assessment.

    Can Christians deal with people (including homosexuals and nonbelievers) from a position of love and compassion? If they cannnot, it is because they are judging them and judgment is just a reflection of something that they do not like about themselves.

    Christianity uses extortion and blackmail to convert people by using fear, guilt and shame to coerce people into being like them. It is not concerned about the pressing human needs around them. It boils down to using extortion so you obey their assume moral authority and they feel attacked or persecuted if you question, dismiss or reasonably criticise them, which is often expressed in the use of more extortion.

    Months ago I made a Facebook post stating that indocrinating children into a religion before they were able to understand it and make the choice for themselves was a form of child abuse. In response, a believer told me that he indoctrinated his children so they would know the “godly” thing to do. This is sad if you think about it. This man had no intrinsic ability or understanding of how to teach his children how to moral, good people out of a regard for human dignity, decency and interedependence. He does not understand his intrinsic worth or value, the fundamentals of having a healthy psychosocial integrity through principles, habits or values, and is incapable of teaching his children the necessary knowledge and wisdom of the dignity and decency within themselves and their interdependence with society.

    Demonizing humanity as being inherently bad and excluding others because you judge them inhibits and stunts the growth of humanity to work together to take care of themselves. There is a difference between judgmentalism and discernment, and it must be understood so we do not confuse being judgmental with making good judgments.

    Discernment is the ability to make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion. Judgmentalism is making harsh opinions.

    Discernment accepts things and people as they are, it does not resist reality as it is and does not exlude because of bias or prejudice. It treats people and things with love, compassion and empathy, but recognizes dangers and either uses direct or indirect influence to make changes and deal with experiences or it avoids that danger out of love and dignity for its own life.
    For example, it does not condemn or exlude a poisonous snake for being what it is, but accepts it and either learns how to handle it properly or avoid it all together.

    Judgment condemns and exludes. It tries to make change by resisting the existence of the object of its prejudices. It uses fear, guilt, shame, etc to force something to change or it sits passively in prayer or wishful thinking waiting for someone else to save them. It waits for a sign or something to tell them what they could have been doing all along rather than being proactive. It sees a poisonous snake and cries that it should not exist or live and wants to destroy the snake or wish it away rather than live in harmony with it.

    What exactly does it mean “know the godly thing to do”? The Christian God is a formal authority who deceived his first two human creations, unjustly condemn innocent people for the sins of others, blamed many of the results of his own actions on humans, was partial to the Jews (a small minority) while having the Israelites commit enthic cleansing of Gentiles. This is a God who premeditated the murder and eternal torture of most of humanity (assuming he could foresee into future and knows what we will do before we do it) by continuing with a creation he knew was going to be doomed by his own hand. He murdered innocent people, including a lot of children and ordered murder, rape, sexual slavery and forced humanity to commit incest.

    Being unable to forgive humanity because of his fallible love, he provided early Jews forgiveness when they sacrificed their firstborn, and he sacrificed himself, in the human form of his own son Jesus, and offered eternal peace with the victim for the murders who helped drive the nails into Jesus by sinning.

    God freed Israel from Egyptian slavery by killing innocent children. He kills these children after setting up such an atrocity but hardening the Pharaoh’s heart which caused the king to “not let My people go.” God sends Moses to free them. When Moses was unable to free them, God sent plagues on Egypt. When that failed he killed all the firstborn of Egypt, including the Pharaoh’s son, which caused the ruler to release the Hebrews out of remorse for his son. What kind of sadistic God forces someone to do something that angers him and then kills innocent children and animals to fix the problem? A loving, kind and benevolent God with all his infinite wisdom surely had to have better solutions than he resorts to in the Bible. [He also instructed the Hebrews to paint their doors with blood so that he would know which houses to pass and not to kill their children as he moved through the city, which is one of many examples that he is not omnipotent] The Passover is really a celebration of God’s mass infanticide to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery.

    Is this what it means to “know the godly thing to do”? You bring these conclusions to Christians and they react in horror. If you do not provide Chapter and Verse they often claim “you have never read the Bible because that is not in there!” Ironically, when you challenge them to prove you wrong by asking for biblical evidence to backup your claims, they refuse. If you use Chapter and Verse in your argument, they won’t touch it at all.

    I guess you could say that not using Chapter and Verse first can be a form of entrapment, but having used both methods, when you can use the Bible to show that it contradicts itself, undermines Christian theology, and prove that the religion had taken the text out of context it causes serious damage to the credibility of the religion.

    I have been told that by attacking beliefs that are so dear to people’s hearts that I am not healthy for anyone and have heard all kinds fo fallacious excuses (faith being a common fallback) so believers can strive to be dumb, gullible, unquestioning and imprudent.

    The issue is whether Christian teachings and God’s teachings in the bible are true or not, and no doctrine can be true if it conflicts with itself. So the contradictions matter. Christians often say that they do not rely on logical proof but rely on faith, which cause problems to any believer who has no knowledge of the contradictions. Logical consistency is important even to ordinary Christians in maintaining their belief when doubt arises. If the bible can no longer serve as a moral guide and foundation for Christian belief, that leaves the believer to face reality or find another authority to base their faith on. Using a preacher, family, friends, etc as a foundation of that belief carries less weight than the bible because it leaves the defense of Christianity to less powerful authorities.

    One thing I see many atheists and skeptics not doing is using more evidence in the Bible and the knowledge of psychology and fundamentals of psychosocial health to dismiss the religion and need of a God for an assumed moral authority that is seriously flawed and has been misrepresented by millions of Christians over the last 2000 years.

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