As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 31st, it is important that we remember our heritage in reclaiming historic faith from a church which had gone astray. The Reformers were, of course, denounced for “dividing the church.” Luther was famously referred to by Pope Leo X as “a wild boar loose in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Looking back, we recognize that Luther was not dividing the church, but calling it back to its deeper gospel unity—our deeper catholicity. The reformers were sparking a reformation which called the church back to its roots and the great biblical faith of Apostles and martyrs. The central theme of the Reformation; namely, that we are saved by grace through faith, was not a new doctrinal insertion, but a re-articulation of the plain teaching of Ephesians 2:8: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”
Recently, dozens of Christian leaders from across every part of the Protestant spectrum dreamed of a statement which might demonstrate our underlying unity as Protestants. In other words, is there a catholic faith which, despite our diversity, we all affirm? The result has been the Reforming Catholic Confession. It is not intended to be a maximal statement stating everything any one group believes. That is a different project. Indeed, it is a beautiful thing when a church explores at the deepest level and with great clarity what they believe. However, this Confession is designed to discover our shared theological heritage with all Protestant churches.
Where are those places where we all agree? It is meant to be a statement of unity in the midst of our diversity. It took over a year to craft the statement and reach the kind of wide approval we sought. I lost count on how many drafts we went through, as each line was carefully scrutinized. The Confession has now been drafted in its final form. The website has been launched and the Confession has already secured nearly 1,000 signatures from around the world (It is also available on the site in Spanish, Portuguese, French and Korean, with several other translations to follow). It can be found at http://reformingcatholicconfession.com.
I encourage you to log on and read the confession and join us in this great statement of Protestant catholicity. In this day when there is so much division, it is refreshing to be reminded of that great historic faith which binds us all together in Jesus Christ.