My spirit was once more awakened this a.m. to this very challenging but critical issue for all humans, even Christ-followers. An AP article in the local newspaper was entitled “Copernicus reburied with honor in church in Poland.”
From your high school science days you may remember this astronomer from circa 1473-1543, who though little known in his day, used his phenomenal skills in math, supported by only minimal technology, to point us toward an understanding that the earth was not the center of the Universe, but rather the Sun. This challenged the universal church’s position on creation and thus he was declared a heretic. He was buried in an unmarked grave and only of late, his remains identified through DNA matches of a few pieces of hair found in one of his books. His major treatise “On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres” was published near the end of his life, with Copernicus himself being presented a printed copy only on the day of his death.
I don’t know where Copernicus stood with the Lord, but obviously the church in his day missed something huge! This was a difficult time for the church, earlier having burned another academician at the stake, John Huss. This man simply suggested that the church might provide a translation of God’s Word to a few people in Moravia, a small province in the Czech Republic. Finding the church challenged by this thought, he established at no cost to the church a small gathering place called Bethlehem Chapel where businessmen and others in that province might gather to study God’s word. You can read the rest for yourself.
As a believer, a Creationist, as well as having some meager education in the field of science, I am challenged at times with our assertion as Christians that we hold some position of privilege around wisdom, especially when we miss moments like this? All my protestant friends will now respond with the fact that these dark moments in the church were due to Catholicism. Catholicism was simply the maturation of those who had drifted from the Spirit filled life known in the days of Peter! Time takes every institution that way.
Yet, my response this morning has little to do with Catholicism vs. current day Protestantism, as I see the same vestiges of institutional dysfunction manifest in today’s dilemma, among even the relatively young churches within our own nation.
Admitting wrong is difficult personally for me, and obviously even more so for us as a group of people, once ideas have been institutionalized. This posthumous honoring of Copernicus, now 500 years overdue, is an example of the difficulty of repentance even by the church. Perhaps it was the way Copernicus went about his discovery, personally angry, arrogant or maybe even how he used this truth against God’s Word? I don’t know, I was not there, but I am trying to be open to any sense of hardness within myself that might be requiring such deep introspection and challenge of my own beliefs as a churchman at this time in my life.
Maybe, I am angry at myself, not having used my best days to lead appropriately? I know I missed some huge moments and made some damaging choices. But…we still have breath, we can change and should, especially when what we have been doing has not been accomplishing the mission of our Lord…making disciples who are making a difference in a nation, as we face some of the greatest challenges in all our history!
Neither man, nor the institutional church is the center of the Universe, but the Son instead! One day we will get this, maybe only after a Revolution in the Heavenly Spheres? Maranatha!