For the life of me, I do not know. If Martin Luther, Zwingli and the other originators were still around, would they be regretting their actions?
The truth is this: the Roman Catholic Church needed to be seriously shaken up by 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses at the All Saints Church, in Wittenburg, Saxony. Corruption, nepotism, land-grabbing, immorality and awful deviation from the faith of Christ were its defining features. But there were reformers within the Church who were not ready to break away even as they aspired to redirect the Church to the right path. Guess the forces within the Church which also dominated the then political world were not amendable to change.
True, the Reformation unleashed other forces that even till date, the world benefits from, including the Catholic Church. Religious tolerance; more interest in Bible study; beak-up of religion-inspired empires; more recognition for non-clerics in Christianity . But the sins for which the Catholic Church was accused also afflicted the Protestant churches that arose from the Reformation. Lust for earthly empire replaced hunger for God’s kingdom. The churches set upon fighting each other even as they fought against the spread of Catholicism. Doctrines went haywire and the ‘new men’ were as , or even more, intolerant of each other as the Catholics. Europe was split along church divides and till today, the diverse identities remain.
What are the implications for Africans?
O di egwu. Different churches rushed into Africa with their versions of the Christian faith and the results are the crazy divisions we have even right in our homes. Thank God for enlightenment which is softening attitudes but the structure is still intact. Then the Pentecostals, influenced by America, landed to uproot the ‘dead’ churches and plant their ‘true’ gospel. The results are there for all to see.
But after all said and done, I remain convinced that in spite of all the awful mistakes made by men in his Name, the faith of Jesus Christ is the best road for humanity to follow.