“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day!

While most folks in the US are celebrating Halloween tonight, we will be focusing on Reformation Day and spending time rereading some Luther. I believe that next year we will have a celebration at the church and discuss what Reformation Day is, and why it is important. Unfortunately, time, or rather the lack thereof, has prevented me from doing all of the things that I want to do.

Anyone stopping at this blog (if anyone does indeed stop by), may already be completely familiar with RD, however I just wanted, for my own sake, to post something about it.

Luther was an enignmatic and conflicted character to say the least, and me being Jewish, he is someone who I find to be unstable in some of his views. However, the hammer blows struck against the door of the church in Wittenberg, as he nailed the theses up, still ring in the ears of those who would have no one tyrannized by man-made methodologies to God.

Luther struck out against a corrupt regime which denigrated God and placed tradition, church councils, and papal authority above the Word of God. This system had created a people who were under the heavy weight of 'working' for their salvation, with the constant fear of not being found 'good enough'.

The sale of indulgences incensed Luther. In Europe at that time, Tetzel, the Pope's PR man, went about putting the fear of God (literally) in people, in order to fill the coffers in Rome for the grand task of building St. Peter's. His methodology was to tell people that they could shorten their time in purgatory, or that they could assist a loved one who was in purgatory by 'sowing' money into the church. The church would then 'put in a good word' for the indulgent to change the position of the purgatorial one. (Yes, this is an oversimplification, but it makes the point)

Another item that Luther rejected was relics. There were enough pieces of the cross, and parts of saints floating around that you could have constructed many crosses out of the splinters, and the bones were so numberous that every town seemed to have a 'piece' of a saint! By paying homage to these relics, one also helped out their situation.

Isn't it interesting how many of the modern televangelists preach this same thing!? Today the Tetzelian message is: "Sow a seed into my ministry, and I will send you a sweat-soaked handkerchief (relic), AND I will pray to God for you and He will give you increase (indulgences)..."

There are several leaders in the modern 'evangelical' movement who exert papal authority over their followers, and the people LOVE IT! They will even pay up to 100.00 to hear one of these modern evangelical 'popes' speak.

Luther's desire was to reform the church in Rome from within initially, and only when that failed did he actively seek other routes. It is interesting that 488 years later, the struggle for internal reformation continues. I just read a good article over at John Hendryx's site regarding people who want to reform their churches from within.

Now, I am not comparing the struggle within the protestant circles with the greater divide between Rome and Wittenberg, however, I do find it poignant that the church is at a place in history where it seems that, once again, we are badly in need of internal reformation.

Mainstream denominations now actively preach AGAINST the grace of God, and FOR the sovereignty of man; they are filled with people who believe that there are books that are equal to, or even surpass the Bible in relevance to the modern person, (witness the PDL movement), and they are giving people a false sense of salvation.

Just as veneration of saints, lighting of candles, and other works cannot provide the assurance of salvation, neither can simply attending a modern church and being filled with a feeling of 'purpose'.

I would pray that this Reformation Day might mark the beginning of a reform in the protestant church. A reform which will bring us back to a biblical understanding of faith... I have much to learn about it, and I dare say that all can grow deeper in their understanding of the Grace of God.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sola Scriptura! How ironic that many travel to Wittenburg today to see a large bronze door inscribed with Luther's 95 theses! (the original was burned during the seven years war in the middle of the eighteenth century) Would Tetzel be proud to show off this relic?

Ray said...

Luther did not even like the reference to reformers in Germany as 'Lutherans'...

It is sad that the same practices the reformers rebelled against are so prevalent within much of the protestant church....

Ryan said...

Now, I am not comparing the struggle within the protestant circles with the greater divide between Rome and Wittenberg, however, I do find it poignant that the church is at a place in history where it seems that, once again, we are badly in need of internal reformation.

Amen brother. Great insights as always.