"As many of you recall, I just resigned my Presbyterian ordination back in April. It was not an “I’m angry at Evangelicals” decision. It was a deeper, more profound reconnection with the Catholicism of my youth. While I’ve not “taken the Tiber plunge” just yet, much of my system of Christian thought is now fully Catholic."
So, from the outset, Mr. Ryan, who describes himself as a novelist, blogger, and columnist, lays out his hand on the table. He's a Roman Catholic, or at the very least, heading in that direction at a very fast rate.
Awesome, fair enough. There are worse places to head to than Rome. Within Rome you will find a high view of Scripture, a high view of grace, and a high view of the Sacraments, even though they have too many of them. :P
Mr. Ryan's blog post can be found here, by the way:
Reformation Day Is Dumb
After Mr. Ryan's introduction, the shenanigans start to fly. He mixes truth with opinion, strawmen, and bait and switch techniques.
"Luther saw (rightly) the rampant corruption in the Papacy, that had become mired in local political intrigue."
So, the author starts by making Luther look like a good guy. He saw the corruption within Rome and wanted to address the issues. The author admits openly that there was rampant corruption within the Papacy at the time. And really, this is not really historically debatable. There was, and Luther confronted it.
The author continues later in the article, saying, "Does this mean that the Protestant Reformers didn’t have a good reason for questioning the Church? No. In fact, as we’ve already discussed, they did."
So then, we have an author who agrees that the Roman Church at the time needed overhaul. So far so good.
It's everything else he writes that is the problem...
Here is where he starts dropping the ball in serious fashion. I quote, "Still, I’m always amazed at how people think Luther was a lone voice in the wilderness. That just isn’t so. Many voices in the church were rising against the sinful practices rampant in the church at the time."
Well, I don't think we would dispute this either, to be honest, not to mention, I don't think many of us think that Luther was a lone voice in the wilderness. Sure, perhaps there are people who think that. But does that mean Reformation Day is dumb? Hardly.
I look in vain through this article to find any reasons the author actually gives as to why Reformation Day is dumb. All I can find is completely unrelated opinions and sloppy argumentation.
The only thing I can find is the typical worn out Roman Catholic argument regarding unity. But this is nothing more than a facade. Unity in what? Allegiance to the Pope? Rome is not as united as they would have us believe.
He quotes a conversation he had with a Protestant pastor friend of his: “You know, I think I’ve got it, celebrating Reformation Day is like celebrating a divorce. Maybe it was necessary, but not something you really build a holiday around. And, I can’t help thinking that God isn’t a huge fan of what happened after the Reformation.”
Ah...I got it now. These guys don't understand what Reformation Day is. Are Mr. Ryan and his friend really that obtuse? Apparently so.
The conclusions and ideas of the author don't make any sense. In short, he twists history in some ways after laying a true historical foundation. That, at best, is shoddy scholarship and misunderstanding, and at worst, is dishonest. In the best case, he should have never posted the blog. In the worst case, he's bearing false witness against his brothers.
"I always find it interesting that my Protestant friends who go on about “The Bible Alone” tend to skip large parts about the passion God has for the unity of His people."
"Jesus dedicates a long prayer to Christian unity and tells the disciples that, “All men will know you’re my disciples by the love you have for one another.”
"The problem is, the Reformers set a torch to an already volatile political situation. The early Reformers didn’t break from the church until the political pressure became too much. All of them did so with great reluctance and with sadness. Certainly, most of them didn’t celebrate it. They knew, deep down, they might have done more damage than good."
These statements reveal his faulty conclusions. What is he trying to tell us here?
1. He is telling us that division for the sake of truth is wrong. Unity is more important, even if that unity pitches some grievous false teachings and massive corruption.
2. Deep down the Reformers knew what they did was wrong and it is nothing to celebrate.
3. Protestants don't take the unity passages of Scripture seriously.
All three of these assumptions and ideas given by the author are completely foolish. The first one, to quote a phrase from the author, is "profoundly unbiblical." Holy Scripture nowhere encourages us to tolerate corruption or false teaching for the sake of unity. If anything, we are to confront it and get rid of it.
The second one is nothing more than a nonsense opinion. The author is telling us that he knows the Reformers knew they were doing something wrong. I don't think the author gets it here. At all. Martin Luther and the other Reformers were not happy about leaving the Roman Church. That's totally not the point. Luther was kicked out by the Pope for challenging corruption. Surely the author knows that. Luther did not want to leave the Church. The Pope did not want to hear what Luther had to say and excommunicated him. They liked their corruption too much, evidently. Johann Tetzel, anyone?
So yeah, let's stop trying to authoritatively peer into the souls of the Reformers and tell us what they were thinking.
The third one is a strawman. Now I will agree that too many Protestants use division as a badge of honor. I will give you that one Mr. Ryan. But speaking for traditional Reformation Churches, I will not concede that at all.
See, we Lutherans (and Reformed) take our Holy Scripture very seriously. We hold it to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God - just like you Romanists do, by the way. We see that there are many truths contained within that are non-negotiable. Why, oh why, would we desire unity over GOD'S truth? Do we desire unity? You bet we do, because Jesus' prayer for unity is part of that truth contained in Holy Scripture.
So what if there were other voices in the Roman Church calling for Reform at the time? The sad fact of the matter is, all of those other voices didn't have the guts to stand up for truth and instead succumbed to corruption and error. Men like Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Zwingli saw truth as greater than false unity around error and corruption. They were the ones who actually took a stand.
But we argue, on Scriptural grounds, that unity must be in the truth. We must be intolerant of false doctrine. We must be intolerant of corruption. And when churches refuse to fix their corruption and false teaching - like medieval Rome - Reform is necessary.
Reformation Day is a celebration of truth, not of division. We rejoice that God worked through Luther and others to bring the truth of His Holy Word to us. We rejoice that God worked through Luther and others to fight the horrible corruption of the time. By the way, in case you've been following, Rome has never repented of their doctrine of indulgences and salvation for sale. You can get one by following the Pope on twitter now. Or so I hear.
We get it man. You don't like Reformation Day. The least you could do is tell that you don't like it because you're a Roman Catholic. That would be fine. But posting an article that argues from a stance of foolishness while trying in vain to hide behind a few historical facts doesn't work. Baiting and switching and then moving on to nothing but opinion and strawmen doesn't work either.
So this Halloween, I'm dressing up as Luther. My wife and all my kids are dressing up as things completely unrelated to the Reformation. And we're going to walk around the 'hood and get us some candy; knowing that we are hid in Christ.
You ought to take the blog down. It's embarrassing to the well-thought Roman Catholics I know. This article, as it is written, is a joke. You're a novelist, blogger, and columnist. Get rid of the clown shoes and the big red nose, be a man, and either take the thing down or rewrite it and make it better. As it reads right now, it's kind of an embarrassment. Surely you know better.