- Remembering the Reformation: Commemorate? Celebrate? Repent? by Michael Root, James J. Buckley
The flood of Reformation-related materials provoked by the 2017 anniversary of the 95 Theses has slowed, but it will no doubt be a while before we can digest them all. This book consists of the papers presented at the 2015 Pro Ecclesia ecumenical conference sponsored annually by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. The theme was obviously looking forward to the now past anniversary, and so one might think the relevance of the papers has come and gone. That would be unfortunate, however, for there is much to ponder here, both on the history of the Reformation and on its current relevance for ecumenical relations.
Two essays by Michael Root are the bookends of the collection. In the first, he asks what exactly was to be commemorated in 2017. His summary of the events leading to and stemming from the October 31 event—if an event it was—is more than simply a recitation [End Page 237] of early Reformation history; he offers perspectives and information that may be revealing even to those who think they know all about that era. In the closing essay, he outlines some peculiar challenges involved in a Reformation commemoration, both historically and ecumenically, and offers some ideas about how they might be effectively met. It would be fascinating to hear him reflect in retrospect about whether any of his suggestions bore fruit.
Thomas Fitzgerald's paper gives a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between the Reformers and the Eastern Orthodox. Orthodoxy is an enigma to most Western Christians, so Fitzgerald's survey of Orthodox thinkers, both those who embraced and those who spurned the Reformation proposals, will be, for most readers, quite informative. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, the only currently Lutheran contributor, argues persuasively that the most profound division between churches today is in fact their differing philosophies of history. This difference shows up particularly in ecclesiology, "which is and always has been both the beating heart and the Achilles' heel of the ecumenical movement" (57). Additional essays by ethicist Stanley Hauerwas and Roman Catholic Bishop Charles Morerod complete the collection.
Even though these papers anticipated a commemoration now past, the book is well worth reading and pondering. It would be an interesting study for a group of pastors or for a theologically informed group of laity. We owe our thanks to the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology for publishing another fine set of essays from a Pro Ecclesia conference.