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Archive for the ‘The Reformation’ Category

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me, Amen.”

    – Martin Luther

Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton (New York, New York: Meridian, 1995, 302 pages with bibliography, references, source of illustrations and index).

Luther_HIS

Many years ago, when first I began to read about the Reformation, I came across Roland Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther and couldn’t put it down. I thought then, and think to this day, that it is a classic on the subject of Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Born in England in 1894, Bainton lived most of his life in the United States, graduating from Yale University with a Ph.D., where he later served as the Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History. With a background like that, readers it may be tempted to suppose that Bainton’s writing, while scholarly, would have little appeal to the non-specialist. He would be half right. While it is true that Bainton was a gifted scholar, Here I Stand is anything but a dull read.

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Pence_Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.  Fred Reed rightly criticizes these neo-conservatives for their belligerent foreign policy and tendency to conflate U.S. interests with those of Israel, but misses the mark when recommending an alternative.

“Pence A Christian? POMPEO?: There Are Christians Who Love and Christian Who Hate,” a recent article by veteran journalist and commentator Fred Reed caught my eye this week. Reed, a gifted and independent-minded columnist, takes an approach to politics that can, I think, fairly be described as Libertarian.

As to his religions background, in his biography on his website he writes, “In general my family for many generations were among the most literate, the most productive, and the dullest people in the South. Presbyterians.” That said, in reading him over the years, my sense is that he has rejected the faith of his forebears and now seems rather hostile to the Presbyterianism of his family. Writing about the Catholic churches of Mexico, he commented in one column, “In any of these them (sic), before Protestantism cast its drab cloak of half of the faith, a traveler could enter and understand everything he saw.” In the same column, he has high praise for Russian Orthodox ceremony as well.

All that said, Reed has a wonderful talent for exposing the many nonsensical pieties which in our time are presented to the public as the very height of wisdom. In his article Reed – the author has a penchant for ribald language, which I have edited out as both unnecessary and inappropriate for this blog – makes many spot on observations about the anti-Christian foreign policy espoused by supposedly Christian government officials. On the other hand, some of his statements are wide of the mark. My comments are interspersed.

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Martin Luther

Just over a month back, Protestants celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It was a noteworthy occasion. October 31, 2017 marked 500 years since a little known Augustinian monk nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door and changed the course of history.

But while as Protestants we look back with joy at Luther’s bold stand against the papacy and proclamation of the Gospel of Justification by Belief Alone, not everyone was or is so appreciative of his achievements and the achievements of the other Reformers. But to call them unappreciative is really far too mild. The truth is, Luther and his contemporaries were hated unto death by representatives of the Roman Church-State (RCS), who did everything in their power to frustrate the spread of the Gospel in the 16th century.

And their efforts to quash the preaching of the Gospel did not stop in the 16th century, but continue unabated to this day. One example of this is the way the Pope Francis and the RCS attempted to co-opt this year’s Reformation Day celebration and turn it into a great big group hugging, Kumbaya singing rapprochement between Rome and her erring children, the “separated brethren” of the Reformation.

But Rome isn’t the only false church singing a false Gospel siren song in the hopes of wooing Protestants onto the rocks of works righteousness. No, Eastern Orthodoxy wants in on the act too.

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