*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 4th of July 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.

It’s Monday- a holiday for some- and we head to the mailbag for a question from Don in Ann Arbor.

First, Ann Arbor…. What a strangely named city. I can guess that the arbor part of the name has to do with trees. And 2 minutes online confirms that this is the case. And the Ann? Maybe a greek or Latin preposition? Nope. The two founders of Arbor had wives by the name of Ann. So there it is… Ann Arbor is also the home to the University of Michigan, a new Big 10 rival of the mighty Lincoln Riley-led Trojans. Bring it on Midwest and East Coast.

Don asked:

“If you have not already done this, I wonder if you could reflect on a long-range view of our current theological scene. We look back on the 11th Century and focus on the Great Schism. We look back on the 16th Century and focus on the Reformation. But what do you think the significant events would be if we could look back at our times from a distance?

Battle for the Bible? Explosion in Bible versions? Worship wars? Church growth? Mega churches? Priest/pastor abuse? Gender and sexuality? Women's ordination? Or... and this is what I'm secretly hoping for... some more significant trend that explains them all?”

This question has been rolling around in my head for a while now, and I share Don’s desire for some helpful framework for understanding our current age. I would also like to note that this is like a parlor game- seeing one's age is very difficult and can be like the proverbial fish being asked what the water is like…

Ok- so It’s going to be relative to something- from our vantage point. So the answer depends… I’m a 40-something of Dutch and Scottish descent- I live on the West Coast of the United States of America, and I have worshiped in and taught in various churches in the Protestant tradition.

And so, being steeped in the Reformation, it might not surprise you that I see our modern age- the 20th century and beyond as bearing fruit from the Early Modern Era and the age of Reformations- I think our generation is marked by the elevation of the individual and our focus on emancipation (seemingly at all costs).

We see this in the Reformation, in the Enlightenment, and in the founding of America (I hear today is some holiday where the individual and liberty are praised).

Don asked about Worship Wars, different translations of the Bible, etc., and often, the troubles that these controversies can make are solved quickly. A robust centralized authority could put an end to our squabbling. I’ve known exhausted Protestants who turn to the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox church because, despite their problems, they have an authority who can settle a storm a lot quicker than a gaggle of Protestants with their elder boards and synods and the like…

When I was a kid, Burger King had an ad slogan, “have it your way.” When I got older, the Backstreet Boys sang, “I want it that way.” We loathe being told what to do and how to do it. In the face of illegitimate authority, this is handy. When I am being selfish, this leads to division. I think regular listeners to this podcast can think up examples of kicking in the door at the right time and those who seem to divide just for the sake of division.

So- the elevation of the self and the primacy of freedom has made the modern church its greatest enemy. Or so I’ve been thinking recently.

Thanks, Don, for your question, and remember you can email me with your questions at Danv@1517.org.

The Last Word for today comes from the lectionary for today from the Daily Lectionary:

Do not rebuke me in your anger
 or discipline me in your wrath.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
 heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

My soul is in deep anguish.
 How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
 save me because of your unfailing love.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 4th of July 2022 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.

The show is produced by the AJ to my Nick. He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man with no love for the Wolverines- especially that quarterback who was drafted in the 6th round in 2000. I’m Dan van Voorhis.

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.