Any observant tourist to Germany this year would notice that the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation means a great deal to the country. Scores of academic conferences, public lectures, publications, and museum exhibitions are devoted to rediscovering the fascinating world and figures of the Reformation era, as well as its cultural, religious, and political legacies in Europe and beyond.

Despite all this, however, few in Europe see the relevance of the Protestant Reformers’ theological and spiritual vision for today. Many dismiss their doctrinal and ecclesial agenda as a mask for furthering the political and economic interests of power-hungry royalty (or, unintentionally, of zealous peasants).

Others blame the Reformation for leading Europe into divisive wars and struggles with disastrous and abiding social consequences. Most Europeans view the Reformers’ beliefs as intolerant, passé, and petty.

With few exceptions, Europe’s churches more or less agree. To advance ecumenical relationships with Catholics, the EKD will officially commemorate the anniversary as a Christusfest (festival of Christ) rather than celebrate it with the label “Reformation.”

There’s little cause for celebration anyway, as most churches have long abandoned—or, at least, significantly revised—the Reformation’s core doctrines: sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. While the Roman Catholic church still officially rejects Scripture alone, European Protestant church leaders and university theology faculty now place the authority of human reason, the claims of higher criticism, and individual conscience over Scripture. Grace alone is of little consequence in an age when ministers minimize sin and maximize humanity’s inherent goodness and free will.

It appears Erasmus won the debate with Luther over the bondage of the will after all. Faith alone and Christ alone have been replaced by the supposedly humbler positions of “We don’t know” and “Many paths lead to God.” And soli Deo gloria is the forgotten sola, known in Germany today only through the SDG inscribed under Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions.

Even the bulk of Europe’s evangelicals and free churches (i.e., those without ties to the state) see little use for the theology of the Reformation.

The Reformers’ quest for biblical and spiritual depth has been substituted for deep anti-intellectualism and shallow experientialism.

Ministers have largely traded the Reformers’ emphasis on the Christ-centered preaching of the Word for theater performances and moralistic guidelines, and the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers has warped into therapeutic individualism. Our prayer is that the same great God who sparked the Reformation 500 years ago would renew post-Christian German-speaking Europe, as well as many other regions around the globe.

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1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Decisions Legalized Abortion in the U.S. for theFull Nine Months of Pregnancy Prior to 1967, abortion was prohibited in all 50 states except when the mother’s life was in danger. Between 1967 and 1973, 18 states added further exceptions, mostly to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest, or for certain limited medical reasons, or on demand (New York). In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered two decisions, Roe v. Wade 1 and Doe v. Bolton 2 which, taken together, have allowed legal abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy in all 50 states. The two original decisions established legal abortion as follows: In the first three months of pregnancy, no one can interfere with a woman’s decision to abort her child. After the first three months, but before the “viability” of the unborn child, an individual state can enact laws to protect the health of the mother but cannot prohibit the abortion of the unborn child. After “viability” of the unborn child, an individual state can, if it chooses to do so, enact laws to protect the unborn child but abortion must be allowed if the life or “health” of the mother is at stake. The Supreme Court defined “health” as “the medical judgment that may be exercised in light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age –relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” 2 Consequently, the broad definition of “health” has made abortion legal up to the moment of birth.

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