Thursday, March 09, 2006

Calvin, the Reformation, and the Twenty-first Century

When touring Geneva today, birthplace of the Calvinist Reformation, a pair of inscriptions in the Protestant Cour Saint-Pierre Cathedral struck me. On the one wall was the proud symbol of ecumenical cooperation, the Logo of the World Council of Churches, celebrating an historic post WWII gathering in the church where Calvin preached. But, on the opposite wall was a Latin inscription honoring the dedication of the cathedral as a Protestant worship center. In the most politically incorrect of terms, the words celebrated the bringing down of the tyrannical papal Antichrist by abrogating the superstitious vexing of the church by the unholy traditions of Rome. It expressed undying gratitude to the Geneva Reformers, Calvin, Beza, Farrel, and Knox, for liberating the city by an emphasis upon the Word of God.

Last year the then pastor of the same church made clear where his sympathies rested. In a print interview in French, he fulminated against what he saw as the most pressing threat facing both Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity. No it wasn't the drift into nominal Christianity in Europe, the materialism of the American church, nor the crisis tearing asunder the mainline denominations. For him the greatest problem comes in a clear and present danger of Midwestern American fundamentalism. He waxed eloquent in suggesting that Midwestern Bush-style Christianity has no grasp of nuances nor subtleties. And, equipped with their simplistic ideas about the "Word of God," they represent a danger to everyone.

Calvin, where are you when we need you?

No comments: