Wittenburg, Germany - In a shocking story that is now making headlines on only the most reputable of news sources, a recent exhumation of the body of Martin Luther showed that the Reformer has indeed "rolled over in is grave." Luther was buried beneath the pulpit of the Castle Church in Wittenburg after his death in 1546. As noted in the records of the burial ceremony, Luther was placed within the tomb laying on his back. When the work crew opened the tomb over the weekend to perform maintenance on it, they found the remains of Luther lying face down, indicating that at some point over the past 450 years something has caused Luther to roll over. Many theories and questions now abound.
"This is, in some ways, both funny and highly disturbing" stated Peter Lundenfestenaker, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "Various people within Lutheranism have joked over the years when this or that new policy was passed that 'Luther must be rolling over in his grave' and low and behold, we find that he has."
Indeed, there have been numerous complaints over the past 200 years that many Protestant churches in general have departed from the Biblical Christianity that was espoused by Luther and the other Reformers.
"It's no shock to me" said Michael Ingvestenknocken, pastor of Soli Deo Gloria Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. "We've gone in every direction except straight for well over the past one hundred years. I'm not the least bit surprised that this has happened."
In the past 500 years since the beginning of the Reformation, many have surmised that Protestantism no longer, on the whole, represents its original foundations. Some of those foundations which are seemingly no longer important include the doctrines of Sola Scriptura, Solus Christos, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria.
"We gave up on all of that sola stuff a long time ago" said Rev. Patricia Hines, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (USA) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "While that kind of jargon worked in Luther's time, we feel the true spirit of the Reformation today lies in the questioning of what is believed to be true, and seeking out new paths of spiritual exploration. That's essentially what Luther did, he questioned the status quo. He wasn't going to be bound by a theocratic dictatorship that would tell him what to believe. I believe it was Luther who said 'My conscience is captive," and we must have the same attitude. Our consciences are free only with they become captive to our own free thinking."
While the religious world looks on in curiosity and waits for an explanation as to why Luther has done a one-eighty, many are dismissing it as merely coincidence. But the situation has brought to light the question as to whether the "Spirit of the Reformation" has indeed, by and large, been lost in Protestant Christendom.
When asked what continues to make Protestants distinct from the Roman Catholic Church one minister commented,
"I believe the 'Spirit of the Reformation' is still alive and well today. Protestants are still seeking independence from the shackles of Rome" said Rev. Brian Humphries, pastor of Little Hills Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. "We won't be bound by outdated doctrines such as the virgin birth, or the literal resurrection story like Rome still teaches. Furthermore, Rome still has this idea of sin, which we enlightened Protestants gave up on a long time ago. And even more so today the Catholic church continues to hold a very close-minded view on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which we too have become more enlightened about. So I think the Reformation continues today."
So on this Reformation Day, in light of these strange and unusual events, many Protestants may find themselves faced with the question "Is the true Spirit of the Reformation still at work in our lives and in our churches today?"