Luther would find the modern world irrelevant right away because it no longer makes any distinction between human judgment and God’s judgment. What is important is strictly human judgment – what others thing of us, or what we think of ourselves, what we call self-esteem. Self-esteem, Robert Schuller says, is the new “new Reformation.” Feeling good about ourselves is the goal of life. Therapy, not theology, is the way to go. “St.” Sigmund (Freud) is the real patron of the modern age. It seems nobody worries about God much anymore. God, if anyone thinks about him (her?) any more, is just love, love, love. God is a patsy. And so God just drops out of the picture for most folks. If God is just love, love, love, then no one need worry about him any more. What is important is not to get right with God, as they used to say in the old days, but to get right with ourselves. What is important is not to live the godly life, but to learn how to affirm one another in our chosen lifestyles. Whatever happened to God? Does anyone believe in God anymore, i.e., that God is living and that he is not only love, but above all, the judge? Does anyone believe that the ultimate question for our lives is not human judgment but God’s judgment?
– Gerhard Forde, “The Irrelevance of the Modern World for Luther” in A More Radical Gospel, ed. Mark C. Mattes and Steven D. Paulson. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2004. pg. 76
How would you answer Forde’s questions? Do you agree with his analysis? As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this weekend, what, if any, tools did Luther and the reformers leave us to help with this problem, namely, that no one is worried about God anymore? What would it take for there to be a “new” Reformation in our current context?