Discussione:Storia/Che cosa dobbiamo alla Riforma

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J. C. Ryle, first bishop of Liverpool (1816-1900)

Our lot is cast in days when it is the fashion to despise everything that is old. There is a morbid readiness to throw aside all things which bear about them the least mark of antiquity, and to treat them with as little respect as last year’s almanacs or worn out clothes. The only exceptions I can think of are, old lace, old coins, old pictures, and old wine! But as a general rule, old opinions and old institutions are too often condemned as useless lumber, and shovelled out of the way, simply because they are old.

Now, I am not one of those who object to all changes and reform of old things. Nothing of the kind. I heartily thank God for most of the changes of the last half century, whether political, or social, or scientific, or educational. I should not be an honest man if I did not declare my conviction that on the whole they are great improvements. But there is one subject about which I cannot take up new views, and that subject is the English Reformation. I cannot agree with those who now tell us that the Reformation was a blunder that the Reformers are overpraised―that Protestantism has done this country no good―and that it would matter little if England placed her neck once more under the foot of the Pope of Rome. Against these new-fangled opinions I enter my solemn protest. I want no departure from the old Protestant paths which were made by Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, three hundred years ago. In short, about the value of the English Reformation I want no new views. I unhesitatingly affirm that the “old are better.”

I fear there is a strange disposition to undervalue the Protestant Reformation. Time has a wonderful power of dimming men’s eye, and deadening their recollection of benefits and making them thankless and ungrateful. Three busy centuries have slipped away since England broke with Rome, and a generation has arisen which, like Israel under the Judges, knows little of the days of the Protestant Exodus, and of the struggles in the wilderness. Partly, too, from a cowardly dislike to religious controversy, partly from a secret desire to appear liberal and condemn nobody’s opinions, the Reformation period of English history is sadly slurred over, both in Universities and Public Schools. It seems an inconvenient subject, and men give it the cold shoulder. Be the cause what it may, the Reformation period is too often shunted on a siding, and has not that prominent place, in the education of young England, which such a character-forming period most richly deserves. The whole result is, that few people seem to understand either the evils from which the Reformation delivered us or the blessings which the Reformation brought in. To remove some of this ignorance is my aim. I want to make some of my countrymen understand that we owe an enormous debt to the Protestant Reformation. An extract from Ryle’s booklet: What do we owe to the Reformation?