Every year I am grateful that All Saints Day follows so closely on Reformation Day. With the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses last year, especially, but at other times, too, there’s always a lot of chest beating involved in Reformation. Sure, we are grateful for confessors and martyrs of past generations who stood up for the gospel. No question. Without them, humanly speaking, we wouldn’t have the truth of God’s Word today. Without people to confess it in our day, the Word won’t keep going to future generations (again, humanly speaking).
Part of what people are celebrating on Reformation Day, whether they like it or not, is a split, a rupture. It had to be and more would have been lost without it, but the fact remains, there is division in the outward Christian Church. If that doesn’t pain us, something’s wrong. If there’s division in the church, we need to root out the false doctrine that causes it. We need to banish the root of the division, and bring people back together around God’s Word again. Paradoxically, often that involves a split or a disagreement, a difference, to show who has God’s approval and who does not, by the doctrine they teach.
Really, this points us ahead to heaven, where there will only be one church and one church body — the Body of Christ, the Una Sancta, the one holy Christian Church of all believers from every time and place that we confess in the Creed. Until then, we keep working, we keep teaching, we keep reforming — until we all reach fullness in Christ, who is the Head of the Body, and who fills everything in every way.