April 3, 2020

Putting the Protest into Protestant

There are Christian communities that are still gathering in person for public worship.

This is a really bad idea during a pandemic.

Why do some churches do this? Well, there are many reasons but some of this stems from an understanding in some traditions that the Church's role in society is to resist norms, to go against the grain. It's a sentiment that has long existed in Protestant and evangelical circles in particular. This idea of resisting norms goes all the way back to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The movement was labeled as such because the father of the movement, Martin Luther protested the norms of the European Church of his day. But let's be clear about something: Martin Luther didn't resist the norms of his time because he wanted to retain a crowd. When the bubonic plague hit Wittenberg in 1527, Luther was not concerned with gathering a community but tending to the sick and dying.

In a time of crisis, our job is not to distract others or ourselves from what is happening but modify our leadership to ensure that no one is left behind. The marketplace and nation state will leave people behind. If you want to put the protest back into Protestant, resist the inclination to care for yourself and your own alone rather than looking out for who is being left behind. 

There are times when greater things are required of us. This is one of them.

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