Sunday - Why We Remember It
On October 31,1517, a Catholic priest named
Martin Luther posted an invitation to a debate on his church door
at Wittenberg. The invitation, entitled "Ninety-Five Theses or Disputation
on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," listed 95 statements about the
some quite basic issues Luther had with the Pope, with the way salvation
and forgiveness were being taught to God's people, and with the misuse
Luther, who was growing in his understanding
of faith, scripture and church history and tradition, wanted to engage
the church in a debate about these things so that the real mission of the
church could be reclaimed. The problem: no one responded
to his invitation, and the debate was never held. Perhaps they didn't understand
how important it was? Maybe they were afraid - after all, Luther was confronting
the most powerful people on the planet. Possibly their
favorite TV show was on that night. But
whatever the reasons were, one came.
So why wasn't that the end of it? Why are
we still talking about this cranky priest and his radical ideas? Well,
this, of course, was not the end of it. People copied down his work
and the newly invented printing press was used to
distribute it throughout Christendom.
Debates were held, people talked, scripture was studied and the Spirit
moved in the Church again. True Christian Freedom, based in the Scriptures
rather than church tradition or culture, was let loose in the church, and
the world was changed.
"But that was then, this is now," as they
say. "Times have changed - why do we need to go back to the frustrated
monk and his concerns about the Pope and the church?" The answer is simple:
the church continues to be distracted by
culture, power and money and needs to
be brought back to having Scripture as the source of its faith, life and
direction for ministry. Unless we have scripture at the source of who we
are and what we do as a church, we are simply building
on a mist, on the changing whims of culture
and the political correctness of the moment. Without scripture, what we
say and do has no more importance or value in the Kingdom of God than what
a religious cult or any other human institution might do.
Please know without a doubt that there
are those within the church who have a social and political agenda that
if allowed to go unchecked would take the church so far from the meaning
and intent of scripture that we might as well
just join a service club (no offence to
service clubs...). The response one often hears from these people: "Why
are you so slavishly following scripture? You're making scripture itself
an idol that gets in the way of following God! We just need to follow Jesus"
- no matter what the scriptures actually say.
Yeah, fine. But without a genuine respect
for and understanding of the scriptures, we really have no true sense of
what Jesus said and did, or what the disciples taught, or what's in the
Old Testament, or what the Apostle Paul was so concerned about. If we ignore
the Bible every time it contradicts our sensibilities, why are we bothering
with it at all? What's the point?
I guess it's a good thing Luther didn't
listen to these people, either.
Grace and Peace,