Thursday, July 21, 2005

And now for something completely different.
Justo Gonzalez (historical theology) has this to say:
"Still, as I look at the picture of the world wide church and try to divine what the third millenium might bring, I become increasingly convinced that in our evaluation of the sixteenth century the Reformation will eventually take a second place to the Spanish and Portuguese invasion of the Western Hemisphere, and to the continuing colonial expansion of Western Europe. That was the first of two mementous stages in the birth of a world wide church--and in many ways the birth of such a church will be proven to be more significant for the future history of the church catholic than the birth of the Lutheran, the Reformed, the Tridentine, or any other tradition stemming from the Reformation. One could thus say tht the catacloysmic change that has affected our view of the sixteenth century is such that, although that century still loooms large and must still be listed as such, an entrie new mountain chain has emerged that tends to overshadow the older--much as in the North American continent the younger Rockies overshadow the older Appalachians." [The Changing Shape of Church History]

Not only that, but the church's evangelization efforts throughout Africa and the East in the 19th century may change the shape of the geography. At least for the Catholic Church, the growth of seminaries in Africa will shift the mission balance of the globle. And as the Church continues her efforts in China, both politically and in the spiritual underground, the balance will tip if the relationship between the Vatican and Chinese government is healed.

I find Gonzalez's statement that the Tridentine Church was birthed after the Reformation, just as the Lutheran and other traditions began, an interesting idea. Was the Church reinventing itself? And if so, I'd say it came out smelling more Roman than the roots that gave it life. The rising flood of Latin Masses and cries to return to the Church of that century--throwing out Vatican II--would be a return to an invented or reformed version of the Christ's Church. No more authentic than Luther's or Calvin's. A tradition of reaction with a force that wells up like a sunami in the twentifirst century. Given that a sunami can change the face of the earth, I think we may be in for some ch-ch-ch-changes.

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