For the last couple of weeks I’ve been a little unnerved about how the process of selecting the Pope has been discussed among evangelicals, specifically the Reformed community. My people. While many have been kind and respectful, others appear to be sitting around thinking about a funny tweet to thrust into the ether. (My tribe talks missional but they are more Chris Farley then Leslie Newbigen.)
Or they wanna refight the Reformation.
Don’t get me wrong, some is not mean-spirited and is genuinely lighthearted. But much shows absolute contempt.
But then I thought about Luther and all the contempt he displayed towards the Pope and all the trimmings. And I thought, maybe it’s OK to make fun.
But it never sat well with me.
And it’s not because I’m Catholic or heading that way. I’m sympathetic to Catholics and what they want out of their spirituality but I can’t go there. I’ll read Merton for sanity.
And then it landed on me this morning. The reason I was ill at ease about evangelicals making light of the papal process and then using Luther to defend it was this. Luther was taking aim at his own tradition. Not the tradition of his neighbor alone. Luther was not trying to start a new religion or denomination or sect. He was trying to reform the church already there. Luther was Roman Catholic, if you will. not Lutheran.
And of course they wanted to kill him. So his criticism and strong language should be seen in that light.
Here is what I think, you wanna be like Luther? Set your aim on all the silliness with evangelicalism. The legalism. The celebrity. The concerts disguised as worship. The worship disguised as concerts. The marketing ad nauseum. The legalism. The calls for radical living from pastors with iPads and iPhones who live in the suburbs with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Set your aim on the cover-up of sexual abuse. The legalism. Set your aim on a theology that questions everything and stands for nothing. The pastor as CEO. The pastor as rock star. The legalism.
Making fun of the conclave given the task of selecting the Pope is easy while living in the evangelical enclave. You lose nothing and get some laughs. Luther took on the church from within. And not for a laugh but because he genuinely sought God and cared for people.