Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson served as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America for 17 years from 1994 to 2011.  Previously he held the position of Director of Church and Society at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.  Earlier in his career he served as Executive and Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (1968-1976) and then as the Associate Editor of Sojourners Magazine when it was founded.  He played a leading role in establishing Christian Churches Together in the USA, and presently helps guide the development of the Global Christian Forum. Over the course of his ministry his ecumenical work has taken him to all corners of the world.  He is the author of Underexpected Destinations: An Evangelical Pilgrimage to World Christianity and Leadership from Inside Out: Spirituality and Organizational Change, as well as four other earlier books.  His numerous magazine articles have appeared in Sojourners, Christian Century, Christianity Today, The Church Herald, Ecumenical Review, and other publications.

In the fall of 2012, Granberg-Michaelson was appointed as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress.  While there he researched and wrote his latest book, From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church (Eerdmans Publishing, released in the Fall of 2013).  The book deals with the effects of the shift in world Christianity to the global South, and impact of global migration on congregational life and society in the global North. It was chosen to be part of the 2013 National Book Festival in Washington, D. C.

Granberg-Michaelson is a graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, both in Holland Michigan, and was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America in 1984.  Presently he continues his work in ecumenical organizations, in writing and public speaking on issues facing world Christianity, and consulting to church-related organizations, including Bread for the World.  He serves today on the governing boards of Sojourners, Church Innovations, and the Global Christian Forum.  His wife, Karin Granberg-Michaelson is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, and they have two children.  Wes and Karin make their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

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Where Protestantism Went Wrong

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation calls for repentance as well as celebration.

The German National Tourist Board has fallen in love with Martin Luther. In 1517, he nailed 95 theses protesting Catholic Church practices to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, an act considered the start of the Protestant Reformation. In honor of the 500th anniversary of this event, a 36-page tourist board brochure outlines eight different routes you can take through Germany featuring “36 authentic Luther sites” with itineraries offering “surprises aplenty.” They’ve even produced a Luther Playmobil figure for ages 4 through 99.

Reformation anniversary observances officially started in October in Lund, Sweden, with an ecumenical worship service convened by the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican, attended by Pope Francis. Since then, countless events, conferences, exhibitions, and observances are being held not just in Germany but around the world as we approach the official anniversary day, Oct. 31, 2017.

But what exactly should we Christians do on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation? Celebrate? Commemorate? Confess? Or repent?

The impact of the Protestant Reformation, combined with the advent of the Gutenberg Bible and the dramatic increase in printed literature and literacy in Europe, produced revolutionary changes in religion and society. As the German tourist board exclaims, “trade, industry, art, architecture, medicine, and technology flourished like never before.” A glowing narrative of the Reformation’s impact on the church and Western culture tends to dismiss any words of thoughtful critique.

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