In the last days I saw a variety of declarations delivered by a group of conservative Primates and theologians within the Anglican Communion. In one of these declarations, the Archbishop Akinola compared the current crisis inside the Communion with the context of Reformation. Adding more color on his statement he invoked the image of Luther to say that the conservative group faces the same challenges and needs to embody the same struggle and values defended by the German reformer.
In my opinion, this comparison is absolutely out of context. And surely for Luther's demerit!
I would like to point at least two reasons for justify as it is unhappy this comparison:
1. Luther fought against obscurantism - One of the main postulates of the Reform was exactly overcome the monopoly of the biblical interpretation by Church chiefs. The Bible was, according to Luther, important element to faith enrichment and the Church laymen owed themselves free access to Scriptures. Each believer has the right to exercise – by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - the gift to interpret the Scriptures and applies her in the personal life, sharing it in the community of faith. The Bible for people represented the hermeneutical upgrade that the Reformation caused for overcome official exclusive interpretations. This step was so important to eliminate the maintenance of dogmatism, fear, and the unique thought.
2. Luther fought against authoritarianism - The power vector inside church was concentrated on Rome who ruled every matter in spiritual and secular fields. The conception of the divine power in its association with the infallibility were quite untouchable. There was not at least an idea of local Church in which, some autonomy and cultural particularities could respected. The role of the laity was absolutely disregarded. The Reformation contributes to give a more ecclesial perspective for Church, restoring the common priesthood of all believers.
What we see today trough the ecclesiology defended by the conservative wing of the Communion is exactly the postulates for return to the authoritarianism and obscurantism.
The God’s Word is seen as a habits norm, moralist rule and untouchable. No one can apply other hermeneutic criteria. NO dialogue with Science, History or the life of believers. The Word of God does not talk with us, neither with our needs.
The second contradiction is the concentration of power. For result, I already affirmed previously, the matter belongs to centralization of power. Is the effort to impose a conservative hegemony who defines what it is right and what is wrong. Maintenance of dependence is the best way to manipulate consciences. A faith that can have no doubt.
The conservatives wish not an ecclesia (in the NT sense) but a sect, where the chiefs know the truth, detains the secret of the sacred deposit and imposes such mysteries to his followers.
The Anglican tradition has its roots also in the Reformation Movement. Scriptures as Frederic Maurice said, was not the last Word of God, but a start point that asks us, our life, and our reason to find the freedom. The Reformation was a fresh wave that brought to society a new scope of values, restoring the faith as a lived experience starting from inside, from the personal experience.
In this way, the comparison with Luther that some conservatives tried to do is quite offensive to the Luther’s memory. Sorry for that!