Those Who Cannot Remember The Past

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. –George Santayana

The history of Ohio where I am from does not extend much before 1750 or so. A few roaming bands of Native Americans (actually people who immigrated earlier than Europeans) and a few French beaver trappers populated the forests.

I’ve talked about the Amsterdam Museum that we visited a couple of days ago. Although there was history before, much of the tour started at around 1200.

Beginning seriously in the early 1500s with Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and continuing with John Calvin, John Knox, and several other thinkers, a movement began that divided Europe, led to the very nasty Thirty Years’ War, and echoes even unto today.

The ideas were one thing. But the result was firing up people under the guise of belief. Lines were drawn. Families split. People who found themselves in the minority in a region emigrated to other, safer regions.

Catholics prided themselves with ornate art. Statues of saints and Jesus and Mary adorned buildings. The Protestants were plain people. They regarded such things as idolatry. Dostoyevsky pondered such a division in conversations between Ivan and Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov.

The result as revealed by paintings from the time on display at the museum showed mobs of people attacking a Catholic Church and tearing down those statues and other religious trappings. One painting I recall showed the “renovated” church at a Sunday Protestant service where the focus was on the pulpit where the pastor preached rather than on statues of Christ on the cross.

The faces on the mob shown in the paintings are what struck me. It may have been ideas to Luther, Calvin,, but they inspired action definitely not in keeping with Jesus’ commands.

In America, we have become much more idea-centric trying to stir up masses to political action. Does this really reflect the growth of the church as revealed in Acts 2? Have we forgotten that political wins can readily turn into political losses? Those who live by the sword….

As for me, I’d love to see the term evangelical return to its root meaning describing one who spreads the “Good News.” I am hopeful.

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