Friday, November 10, 2017

Martin Luther

We’re celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation started by Martin Luther.    Christ the King is participating in that celebration, and as a consequence, we are learning more about Luther.   For example:

During his early life, he was prey to agonizing depression.  None of the medieval rites and practices of faith could touch what he called the ‘sorrow’ that made him terrified of death, which he imagined as total extinction.  When this black horror descended upon him, he could not bear to read psalm 90, which describes the evanescence of human life and portrays men being condemned by the anger and fury of God.  Throughout his career, Luther saw death as an expression of God’s wrath. 

His theology of justification by faith depicted human beings as utterly incapable of contributing to their own salvation and wholly reliant on the benevolence of God.  It was only by realizing their powerless that they could be saved.  To escape his depression Luther plunged into a frenzy of activity, determined to do what good he could do ion the world, by consumed also by hatred.

Luther’s rage against the Pope, the Turks, the Jews, women, and rebellious peasants – not to mention every single one of his theological opponents – would be typical of other reformers in our own day, who have struggled with the pain of the new world and who also have evolved a religion in which the love of God is often balanced by a hatred of other human beings.
[page 65 The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong 2000]

Armstrong’s characterization is one of many.    While I don’t agree with Luther's theology, especially death as God’s wrath, I do appreciate his brilliance and how his condemnation of the Church during his time justifying led him to break away.   Clearly, legions of people followed him and for very good reasons.   Today we have many different types of Protestants such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians.    It’s a diverse branch of Christianity.

We can all learn from what Protestants have to say.   I continue to pay attention and listen.   I also remind myself that Armstrong is correct.   Too often love of God is balanced by a hatred of other human beings.   Such a terrible shame and blueprint for chaos and destruction.

Deacon David Pierce

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