Reformation Day

I always have mixed feelings about Reformation Day. One the one hand, as an adventist who believes that we must all wait for the advent to be conscious together (Hebrews 11:40), I am glad to get away from the premature idea of “all souls day”. On the other hand, heirs of the radical reformation dislike the lack of attention to the variety of reformations and to the protestant persecution of anabaptists.

Yet I want to take time to remember, not the story of Luther and Calvin, but the significance of being protestant. Though the Lutherans and Calvinists continue by means of infant water baptism to undermined the doctrine of justification by grace alone, we live in a time when most evangelicals are neither Lutheran nor Calvinist but reassure themselves with their family virtues and patriotic rituals. Reacting to what they call “secularism”, many now often sing the praises of the pope and anything that is “religious”.

Let us remember that the pope is still the single greatest cause of Christian disunity. Not only does the pope continue to reject the authority of the Bible and justification by faith alone, but also to insist that any Christian unity must recognize the authority of papal tradition. The success of Calvin and Luther, limited though it was, was that they refused to collaborate or be included in the false unity which taught that the grace of justification must be maintained by our own works, instead of the death of Christ alone, outside of us. Despite their many failures, at this point we must appreciate the fidelity of Luther and Calvin to the theology of Romans 3:20-21–“For through the law comes the knowledge of sin, but now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed.”

The state Reformers understood that grace through our works is a rebellion against God’s way of grace. Justification through our law-keeping means not more obedience but more sin. Romans 5:20–“But law came in, with the result that sin increased.” Not the knowledge of sin increased— sin increased! The result of unity around the law-salvation of the pope is always more sin. To be protestant means saying that we are justified not by our life together or by our works, but only because of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have “become the righteousness of God in Christ” by God’s imputation of the one man’s obedience, even unto death. The Christian life is not the way we make payments back on our justification; the Christian life is the party the Father gives the returning prodigal. Neither our justification nor our life as Christians depends on our moral progress. Indeed, all our works are only acceptable if we are already justified before God.

This is good news! This is radical grace, not the grace with strings attached and “fine print” later. Our unity depends only on the cross where the son of God died for all those elect sinners who will be called out and gathered as God’s ecclesia. In the days of persecution, some anabaptists met together in little boats out on the river, away from the easy reach of the magistrates. Today our unity does not depend on getting more folks to leave their big barges and climb into our little boats with us. But neither does unity depend on us going ashore where we can be included in their rituals with them. We must not impatiently substitute our idea of unity for the biblical hope of unity.

I Corinthians 15:3 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ…. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep… 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Jesus is already Lord and will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. After the second death, after the death of death, after the end of death, ruling will be ruled out “so that God may be all in all”. Though we remember the failures of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, let us not ourselves become elder brothers who refuse to enjoy the prodigal’s party. Though we have good reasons not to attend their meetings (see I Corinthians 14), we do well to remember that we are justified in spite of our meetings and our religion, alone by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ did. We are not saved because of our faith, because our faith is not Christ’s righteousness, even though our faith is God’s gift to us based on Christ’s righteousness. (II Peter 1:1)

Apart from the death of Christ, you and I have no more “spiritual capital” than the pope or the protestants who go to war to support capitalism. Being in this small canoe together is no sign of assurance based on our moral progress! We have been called out, set apart, constituted as holy, but not because God is going to enable us to meet the requirement of God’s new covenant law. Our fidelity to anabaptist rules about war, or water, or the Lord’s Supper is not something which can add to or subtract from the accomplished atonement of Jesus Christ.

Grace for the woman caught violating family values, parties for parasites back for more money, food for the brothers who send Joseph down to Egypt, this is grace! Grace for the protestants who made martyrs of the anabaptists. Grace for those who used to be legalists who put their hope in their martyrdom rather than in Christ alone!

The nation-states have always appreciated the moralism of the churches to produce for them “good citizens”, but those nation-states have nothing to gain from the good news of grace. The rulers are happy when we repress ourselves in methodist fear of losing our salvation. The NSA and Homeland Security are glad for us to police ourselves. But what do those institutions which operate by the ABCs of this age have to gain from our teaching grace, and by our living as though we believed in grace?

William Blake

The Moral Virtues in Great Fear
Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear
And the Accuser Standing By
Cried out Crucify Crucify

If Moral Virtue was Christianity
Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

The gospel of justification does not complicate the simple difference between approving and disapproving killing. That is why we are anabaptists, and not only protestants. But the Roman Catholics can have no experience of unity in the gospel until and unless they learn the difference between what they are doing and what God DID in Christ’s death (Romans 8:3) to unify all the elect in Christ. And since none of our different churches died on the cross for us, the unity of those who do trust in what God did in Christ does not depend on our keeping each other in the same church.

The Roman Catholics (and many of the “Protestants”) agree doctrinally that the doctrine of grace alone through faith alone is NOT the doctrine on which their church stands or falls. They celebrate their doctrine that their “sacrament” is not what they do but what God is doing. Thus they exclude those of us who read no “sacrament” in the Scripture. Even though they cannot explain rationally their doctrine of “union with Christ”, they still want us to agree that we take Christ in by our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup.

Though Roman Catholics and Protestants and Anabaptists may have different doctrines, they all are always attracted to use coercion for “the greater good”. All three groups tends to be identified with a prescribed set of practices rater than with ideas and doctrines about what God did in Christ.

Is our hope that that these groups will come live in our little canoe with us? Do we “envision” (as missional entrepreneurs) that these folks will “shop” at our church, and see what we see, and do what we do? Or can we learn that faith is God’s gift and not the lack of a rational argument against faith? Faith is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

Grace is not for the nice people. Grace is also not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus Christ has already done enough so that we don’t have to con ourselves into believing that God has to “show up” every Sunday in the presence of authorized clergy?

For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. We talk about how we do church, because we have learned that it’s a mistake to think that our doing church is God doing church. So now that we know that, what are we going to do? What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us? II Cor 5:19—not counting their sins against us!

But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” NOT having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about NOT having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? WE ARE. I Am.

But isn’t it dangerous for God to not count our sins against us? Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s a not yet aspect of our justification in which God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit will be brought in as an additional factor, so that we can now still have various forms of motivations, including the beauty of threats and the loss of assurance, and whatever else that works to get us on the move…But the parasites and the prodigals say to the elder brothers, take it up with the Father…argue with the Father…

But wouldn’t it be better now, in the present fight against secularism and liberalism, to keep a stoic stiff upper lip and not “rock the boat” about grace, and accept the “tension” between grace motives and other motives? So what if some works are not done from a clean conscience but done in order to keep clean the conscience clean? Why rock the boat just because grace happens to work for you, when being a pastor of a group which is more than a small sect means that we get along with people who operate out of different motives. .

But those on the shore want to rock our little boat. If you really believe in grace, they tell us, you could get alone with the rest of us, with other doctrines, with other motives. And we say: the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and this little boats is not theirs, though they kill us, though they command us to bring our babies to their big churches, though they cut us off from their “means of grace”. If God has elected those who are predestined to grace, this does not prove that God has predestined them to be the mediators who hand out that grace.

Of course the Magisterial Reformers failed in many ways. They went back to the local magistrate to keep the “peace” which is maintained by the “order” which is ensured by authorized violence. Protestants have not been very gracious. Don’t just look at Lutheran Germany, look at the guns owned by the Protestants of America, at the crusades of armed democracy. In the name of grace, God’s law has been reformed, modified, cheapened, so that the life and example of Jesus Christ can be ignored.

We dare not let the politicians and the teachers of virtue turn the story of Jesus into some general truth about everybody having God for their same father so that we all accept each other, no matter what our motives may be. Philippians 3: Beware of evil workers—“we boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”.

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22 Comments on “Reformation Day”

  1. Alexis Chanel Says:

    Every time I come to this site and read I want to engage in plagiarism and pass the writings off as my own. Simply a beautiful piece of writing warming the heart and enlightening the mind!

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Christendom leaves some people behind. Christendom persecutes some people. Roger Williams, for example, in his own mind and thought took a trip away from Christendom (at least from that of New England non-separatist puritans, he was more welcomed by the Christendom concurrent in old England), but Williams was then externally and forcibly excluded from the territory.

    This is why the Reformers leaned on the arms of the magistrates. Those who did Bible study with Zwingli said, let’s keep studying these things. But Zwingli said, the time for talk has ended, because I am determined to go no faster than the magistrate will allow. You will find out that those who don’t take this “gradual” approach will end up suffering.

    Christendom says–it’s your fault that we have to put you out. It’s your decision to not have your babies christened which puts us in the unhappy position of persecutor. But we do it for the greater good, and that Christendom not vanish from the earth. What would happen to Christianity if there were no order and no Christian magistrate?

    If Christendom is of the essence of being Reformed, then total discontinuity from Christendom becomes another faith. If we lose Christendom, what’s next to lose?


    Martin Luther: I will not oppose a ruler who, even though be does not tolerate the Gospel, will smite and punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgement. For he is
    within his rights, since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel but have become faithless, perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers, and blasphemers,
    whom even heathen rulers have the right and power to punish….

    If he can punish and does not, then he is guilty of all the murder and all the evil which these fellows commit, because, by willful neglect of the divine command, he permits them to practice their wickedness, though he can prevent it, and is in duty bound to do so. Here, then, there is no time for sleeping; no place for patience or mercy. It is the time of the sword, not the day of grace.

    Therefore will I punish and smite as long as my heart bears. Thou wilt judge and make things right.’ Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God…On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell…

    mark: You see, the problem is anabaptist revolutions, not reformed revolutions, certainly not German princes aligned against emperor and pope. Though the earth in theory is the Lord’s, to be practical it must be kept from the parasites and given to the nobility, who even now have it in their power to make history go in the right direction, the way God would want it to….

  4. markmcculley Says:

    “not fixing the other” can be an excuse, can be the qualification which allows a preacher to talk real big but in the end not lose anybody from his congregation or any of his influence. It can be away of saying “yet but however”. As in “we get it” and they don’t get it, but let’s don’t try to fix them but instead be patrionizing, so that we see them as real Christians who are still legalists, weak, unlike ourselves. That way we get to keep both the universalists and the non-universalists and the Arminians all aboard our big ship.

    It’s like “not worrying about the righteousness of the church”, and therefore killing Donatists who have set up another church over against our one church, and so killing them does not make our our one church more righteous but it is good for the gospel, because it shows that there is no salvation outside the one church and that one church is not the righteousness.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Some of us are leery of both old and new, of any “Reformed” person or church that will not call a spade a spade. Any theology which refuses to teach that Christ died only for the elect will end up glorying in something else besides the cross, be it the distribution of justification by means of water or by means of “free will”.

    For even those who are Reformed say that Christ died to make an offer to everybody, and they desire to have your infants watered that they may boast in being Reformed. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither old “the means of grace” Lutheranism counts for anything, nor the new “to make an offer” Calvinism…

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Barth–hus to speak of a continuation or extension of the incarnation in the Church is not only out of place but even blasphemous. Its distinction from the world is not the same as His; it is not that of the Creator from His creature. Its superiority to the world is not the same as His; it is not that of the Lord seated at the right hand of the Father. Hence it must guard as if from the plague against any posturing or acting as if in relation to world-occurrence it were an alter Chrisus [another Christ], or a vicarius Christ [vicar of Christ], or a mediator of all graces, not only out of fear of God, but also because in any such behaviour, far from really exalting itself or discharging such functions, it can only betray, surrender, hazard and lose its TRUE INVISIBLE BEING, and therefore its true distinction from the world and superiority to world-occurrence. (CDIV.3.2, 729)

    Berkhof —Roman Catholics hold that (water) baptism is absolutely necessary for all unto salvation, and that the sacrament of penance is equally necessary for those who have committed mortal sins after baptism; but that confirmation, the eucharist, and extreme unction are necessary only in the sense that they have been commanded and are eminently helpful. Protestants, on the other hand, teach that the sacraments are not absolutely necessary unto salvation, but are obligatory in view of the divine precept Willful neglect of their use results in spiritual impoverishment and has a destructive tendency, just as all willful and persistent disobedience to God has.

    That they are not absolutely necessary unto salvation, follows: (1) from the free spiritual character of the gospel dispensation, in which God does not bind His grace to the use of certain external forms, John 4:21,23; Luke 18:14; (2) from the fact that Scripture mentions only faith as the instrumental condition of salvation, John 5:24; 6:29; 3:36; Acts 16:31; (3) from the fact that the sacraments do not originate faith but presuppose it, and are administered where faith is assumed, Acts 2:41 [see also 10:42-48]; 16:14,15,30,33; 1 Cor. 11:23-32; and (4) from the fact that many were actually saved without the use of the sacraments. Think of the believers before the time of Abraham and of the penitent thief on the cross. [Systematic Theology, (1941). 618-619.]

  7. markmcculley Says:

    William Tyndale, 1530—-
    “Nay, Paul, thou art unlearned; go to Master More, and learn a new way. We be not most miserable, though we rise not again; for our souls go to heaven as soon as we be dead, and are there in as great joy as Christ that is risen again.” And I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine, if he had known it, that the souls of their dead had been in joy; as he did with the resurrection, that their dead should rise again
    More, putting departed souls in heaven, hell, and purgatory, destroy he arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection…. And again, if the souls be in heaven, then what cause is there of the resurrection?—William Tyndale, An Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue (Parker’s 1850 reprint), bk. 4, ch. 4, p. 180
    The true faith setteth forth the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers, denying that, did set forth that the souls did ever live. And the pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of philosophers together; things so contrary that they cannot agree. And because the fleshly-minded pope consenteth unto heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to stablish it., p. 180.
    And when More proveth that the saints be in heaven in glory with Christ already, saying, “If God be their God, they be in heaven, for he is not the God of the dead;” there he stealeth away Christ’s argument, wherewith he proveth the resurrection: that Abraham and all saints should rise again, and not that their souls were in heaven; which doctrine was not yet in the world. And with that doctrine he taketh away the resurrection quite, and maketh Christ’s argument of none effect. p. 118.

  8. markmcculley Says:

  9. Z—Reformation Day, as we know it, is misleading. It creates the impression that the Reformation was about “cleaning up” the church. It wasn’t. There were moral reform movements about in the late middle ages and early 16th century but the Reformation wasn’t one of them. The Reformation was a theological event that was intended to have moral consequences, but it wasn’t first of all about moral self-improvement and tidying the ecclesiastical house. Beware all the various “reform” movements in our churches today that want to turn the Reformation into moral renewal (and that’s most of them). Beware when folk invoke a “new” Reformation who don’t understand the old one. Beware when folk call for a Reformation that requires a repudiation of the first Reformation. Those movements abound.

    Hunter—-The great man theory of history is a Hegelian idea of leadership and history, popularized by the nineteenth-century Scottish historian, Thomas Carlyle…For Carlyle, heroes shaped history through the vision of their leadership, the power of their intellect, the beauty and delight of their aesthetic, and animating it all a certain inspiration from above…[from Moses to Jesus to Buddha to Aristotle to Julius Caesar to Napoleon to Aquinas to Luther to Darwin to Freud to Monet and Degas]

    All form an aristocracy of knowledge, talent, ability, ambition, and virtue, and so endowed have stood like switchmen on the train tracks of history; it is their genius and the genius of other heroic individuals that have guided the evolution of civilization this way or that; for better or for worse.

    The only problem with this perspective is that it is mostly wrong. Against this great-man view of history and culture, I would argue (along with many others) that the key actor in history is not individual genius but rather the network and the new institutions that are created out of those networks. And the more “dense” the network—that is, the more active and interactive the network—the more influential it could be. This is where the stuff of culture and cultural change is produced…My point is simply that charisma and genius and their cultural consequences do not exist outside of networks of similarly oriented people and similarly aligned institutions.

  10. Barclay — The Reformation did not “rediscover” grace (which was near the center of practically every form of medieval theology), nor did it simply reinvigorate the Augustinian tradition. As an isolated slogan, grace alone tells us far too little about its precise configuration. What is Reformed is not only the relentlessly Christological reference of grace, but also its permanent state of incongruity. On these grounds, believers live perpetually from a reality outside of themselves, a status of divine favor enjoyed only in and from Christ. Their agency does not need to be re-attributed to the agency of grace, because their works are non-instrumental, and are performed in faith, that is, FROM THE SECURITY OF A SALVATION ALREADY GRANTED On the same grounds, gift-giving is stripped of the instrumental reciprocity that had been basic to its rationale since time immemorial. In this sense, the reformation offered a new theological definition of gift .

    • markmcculley Says:

      Schreiner review of Barclay—I am not persuaded that there is no polemic against doing in Galatians. Faith is set against doing, even if the doing is circumscribed by Torah (Gal 3:1–9). The contrast is particularly strong in Gal 3:12 where the law, in contrast to faith, is characterized by performance. The reference to uncircumcision does not negate what is said since people can boast in what they do (get circumcised) or what they do not do (uncircumcision). That is why Paul trumpets the cross as his only boast (Gal 6:12) and the new creation is the rule by which all should live (Gal 6:16). Additionally, Barclay does not reflect enough on the difference between promise and law. Law does not avail since it focuses on what human beings do (or more precisely fail to do), while the promise stresses what God in Christ does for believers…..

      When it comes to Romans, Barclay sees a pronounced emphasis on the superabundance of grace. In Romans, like Galatians, Paul sees God’s grace as incongruous so that it is granted to the unworthy, and fitting, in that it changes those who are its recipients. The incongruous grace of God continues to be given in Jesus Christ. At the final judgment there will be evidence that those who have received God’s grace have changed. Hence, God’s grace is unconditioned (given to the unworthy), but not unconditional (those who have received such grace are transformed).

      On the other hand, he is not convincing when he says that there is no polemic against a Jewish conception of works in Rom 4:4–5. Has not Barclay already shown that some would not agree with Paul’s notion of an incongruous gift? In these verses we see a different conception of grace. Some Jews certainly depended on their works for vindication; otherwise, the boasting of the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9–14) does not relate to anyone. Barclay thinks Paul has an exegetical but not a polemical purpose in Rom 4:4–5, but that is a very unlikely splitting of categories. Paul writes about matters present in people’s lives. In the same way, it seems as if Barclay strains to deny any sense of trusting in one’s own righteousness in Rom 9:30–10:8. In Barclay’s reading of Rom 10:3, Paul speaks of confirming or validating one’s righteousness instead of establishing or achieving righteousness. He does not think Paul criticizes an attempt to be righteous by works or human achievement. The issue is that some believed that Torah observance made one a fitting recipient of God’s kindness. Paul does not criticize works-righteousness “but the criteria by which worth is defined” (p. 541 n46). This is a possible reading, but it is a very fine distinction. It seems likely that people would boast about meeting such criteria. Indeed, Paul sets boasting and works over against faith in Rom 3:27–4:5.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus did not say anything new, because he was merely a REFORMER of the temple
    like John the Reformer, he wanted the two sacraments to be done the original correct way, infant circumcision and the Passover.
    Mark 11: 8 Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields.9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting:Hosanna!
    He who comes in the name
    of the Lord is the blessed One!
    10 the coming kingdom
    of our father David is blessed!
    Hosanna in the highest heaven!
    11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple complex. After looking around at everything, since it was already late, He went out to Bethany….
    14 Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” 15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex.
    21 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.” 22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith … If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done …
    What mountain is Jesus talking about? the Temple Mountain?
    Mark 14: 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death….many were giving false testimony against Him, but the testimonies did not agree. 57 Some said—“We heard Him say, ‘I will demolish this sanctuary made by human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’” 59 Yet their testimony did not agree even on this.
    Mark 15: 28 Jesus was counted among outlaws.29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, save Yourself .

  12. markmcculley Says:

    to remember on Reformation Day, On War Against the Turk” (1528) by Martin Luther–“Certain persons have been begging me for the past five years to write about war against the Turks, and encourage our people and stir them up to it, and now that the Turk is actually approaching, my friends are compelling me to do this duty, especially since there are some stupid preachers among us Germans who are making the people believe that we ought not and must not fight against the Turks. Some are even so crazy as to say that it is not proper for Christians to bear the temporal sword or to be rulers; also because our German people are such a wild and uncivilized folk that there are some who want the Turk to come and rule.
    . They undertook to fight against the Turk under the name of Christ, and taught men and stirred them up to do this, as though our people were an army of Christians against the Turks, who were enemies of Christ; and this is straight against Christ’s doctrine and name. It is against His doctrine, because He says that Christians shall not resist evil, shall not fight or quarrel, not take revenge or insist on rights. It is against His name, because in such an army there are scarcely five Christians, and perhaps worse people in the eyes of God than are the Turks; and yet they would all bear the name of Christ….
    “I say this not because I would teach that worldly rulers ought not be Christians, or that a Christian cannot bear the sword and serve God in temporal government. Would God they were all Christians, or that no one could be a prince unless he were a Christian! Things would be better than they now are and the Turk would not be so powerful. But what I would do is keep the callings and offices distinct and apart, so that everyone can see to what he is called, and fulfill the duties of his office faithfully and with the heart, in the service of God.”
    “For although some praise the Turk’s government because he allows everyone to believe what he will so long as he remains the temporal lord, yet this praise is not true, for he does not allow Christians to come together in public, and no one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed.
    “How can one injure Christ more than with these two things; namely, force and wiles? With force, they prevent preaching and suppress the Word. With wiles, they daily put wicked and dangerous examples before men’s eyes and draw men to them. If we then would not lose our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word and faith, we must pray against the Turks as against other enemies of our salvation and of all good. Nay, as we pray against the devil himself….”
    “But as the pope is Antichrist, so the Turk is the very devil. The prayer of Christendom is against both. Both shall go down to hell, even though it may take the Last Day to send them there; and I hope it will not be long.”

    Luther—it seems just to me that territorial laws and territorial customs should take precedence of the general imperial laws, and the imperial laws be used only in case of necessity. Would to God that as every land has its own peculiar character, so it were ruled by its own brief laws, as the lands were ruled before these imperial laws were invented, and many lands are still ruled without them….It is God’s will that this empire be ruled by the Christian princes of Germany, regardless whether the pope stole it, or got it by robbery, or made it anew. It is all God’s ordering, which came to pass before we knew of it.”

    from Martin Luther’s “An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation“:
    “It is said that there is no better temporal rule anywhere than among the Turks, who have neither spiritual nor temporal law, but only their Koran; and we must confess that there is no more shameful rule than among us, with our spiritual and temporal law, so that there is no estate which lives according to the light of nature, still less according to Holy Scripture.”

  13. markmcculley Says:

    A mere three years after he challenged Tetzel to a debate on indulgences with his 95 theses, Luther would be arguing that praying for the dead was as wrong as praying to the dead. To believe that the dead in heaven could pray for anyone on earth was dead wrong, as the pun would have it, or even worse. “The Scriptures forbid and condemn communication with the dead… For Luther, the communion of saints mentioned in the Creed was not to be understood as anything other than a eschatological hope.about the promised resurrection and the kingdom to come. Carlos Eirie, A Very Brief History of Eternity, p 108
    Luther, from in a sermon in 1522—-“The summons of death comes to us all, and none of us can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone. We can shout into each other’s ears, but everyone must himself be prepared for the time of death. I will not be with you then, nor you with me

    Martin Luther–” For just as one who falls asleep and reaches morning unexpectedly when he awakes, without knowing what has happened to him we shall suddenly rise on the last day without knowing how we have come into death and through death. I shall sleep, until He comes and knocks on the little grave and says, “Doctor Martin, get up! Then I shall rise in a moment, and be with him forever.’ ”

    Dr. T. A. Kantonen (The Christian Hope, 1594, p. 37)

  14. markmcculley Says:

    The “chief abbot” of the church was not the pope but Christ, and it was possible to be in the church (visible) without being of the church (invisible). In the context of the religious awakening in Bohemia, Hus’s correlation of predestination and ecclesiology ignited a national reform movement with revolutionary implications. Near the end of his life, Wyclif also had repudiated the entire papal system and called for its abolition.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    Marilynne Robinson–Two terrible scandals mar Luther’s life. One was his response to the Peasants’ War, in which he urged extreme violence against the rebels. The other was his writing against the Jews, whom he assailed in very similar, very violent terms. There is no excuse to be made for this, but a reason for it might have been that the existence of communities considered heretical was tenuous. Whole villages of Waldensians had been slaughtered. Wittenberg, where Luther lived most of his life, was protected by important German princes, but to tip it in the slightest degree toward association with any disfavored population would be to put it at risk.

    The Peace of Augsburg, signed in 1555, which for a while established a truce between Catholics and Lutherans within the Holy Roman Empire, did not acknowledge other Protestant groups, who had little or nothing in the way of princely protection and who remained liable to prosecution as heretics by both Catholics and Lutherans. Luther was no longer alive, but his readiness to dissociate himself from vulnerable groups seems to have survived him.

  16. Mark Mcculley Says:

    There are some who, when they find out that the bus is going the wrong direction, only walk toward the other end of the bus.” Judging others for their self-righteousness (or their lack of forgiveness) is
    not that different from judging others for their fornication. It’s easy to say—they don’t fear God, but I do. Or sure I sin, but I don’t want to, like they do. Or sure I sin, but at least I am honest
    about it. When we don’t forgive others for not forgiving us, we are not so honest as we think we are. Justification is not a process. Those once justified are still justified. Those now justified were not
    always justified.

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