October 31, 2014

Voices of Friends around the Web

By Chaplain Mike

On the sidebar of Internet Monk, we have an extensive and ever-growing list of friends’ blogs and good websites. We encourage you to check them out. We think you’ll agree that they are worth your while.

In this post, I will survey a few interesting items I’ve read on some of them in recent days.

• From the Lausanne 2010 Congress in Capetown, Skye Jethani wrote:

After the video all 5,000 delegates stood to sing “Crown Him with Many Crowns”–the same hymn that opened the Edinburgh conference a century ago. And the amazing diversity at Cape Town 2010 was a moving testimony to how effective the 20th century missions movement was. Standing beside me was an African woman, an Australian man, an Asian couple, and a student from Latin America. I have never been in a more international gathering in my life. As I scanned the room I didn’t see groups of white, black, or brown. The room was integrated, for lack of a better term–God’s people from around the globe worshipping together. It was incredibly moving.

From Rachel Held Evans, who expressed her dismay when she learned the extent to which the great Reformer Martin Luther held vile anti-Semitic views:

The Apostle Paul  said: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

How can we say that Luther had good theology when he failed to love?

And what about the Anabaptists? Doesn’t their legacy prove that followers of Jesus do not have to be violent in a violent culture? Luther had as much access to the Gospels and the history of the early church as they did, and yet he chose violence while the Anabaptists practiced peace.

Maybe I just need a little time to process this—to file it away in that same part of my brain where I keep Joshua 6:21 and Psalm 137:9.

But for now I have a heavy heart, a disquieted spirit…and yet another plate of pasta to consume.

But I’d rather live in the tension that pretend that it doesn’t exist.

• A request for prayer from Andrew Marin, who has a worrisome growth on his toe that must be biopsied:

Even though I know the chances are quite slim it actually is cancer, I figure some pre-emptive strike of prayers couldn’t hurt. I don’t exactly know how I feel about this whole situation right now. It’s just really strange. I went in to get a refill on acne medicine and she tells me there is a chance I have cancer. That’s annoying. . . .

So if you could please pray for my health . . . I would much appreciate it. I will let you all know about the outcome of the biopsy as soon as I find out.

John Frye hits the nail directly on the head with his posts on “Using the Bible to Avoid God.” Here’s a sample:

The Pharisee syndrome is still alive and well in US American Christianity. Many Christians are much more at ease with studying the Bible than coming to Jesus. Reading a Book is safer, more comfortable than relating to a Person, especially an enigmatic Person like Jesus.  An insidious pride lurks in the heart when one presumes to know the Book, to possess it and revere it and use it to fence off undesirable types of people from our tidy lives. People, well-intentioned, begin to substitute finding something new and refreshing in the Bible with relating to a holy, very present God.

As a pastor I’ve observed how the Bible is used to distance a person from God the Spirit. If I view the Bible as a box of matches from which I can draw one match and light it and see the flame and feel the fleeting warmth and call that a devotional life, then I am happy. To walk into the flame-thrower named Jesus the Christ is a different story. I don’t want to be burned up in the fiery passion and mission of God–that’s too extreme.  I’m happy with “this little light of mine…”.  Living as a whole burnt offering is too…what shall I say? Indelicate. I want to stay in charge of my commitment and piece-meal it out at my discretion. Dying to self is a nice metaphor after all.

Finally, here’s a rare and outstanding opportunity.

Our friends at Mockingbird have posted videos of talks from Paul Zahl’s New Persuasive Words DVD on their excellent blog.

If you would like to hear fine, clear preaching on pure, unadulterated grace, here is your chance.

We are thankful for all of our friends, and the fine work that is being done in carrying on important conversations in the blogosphere!

Comments

  1. It makes me happy that the song they were singing in Skye Jethani’s moment of heaven was “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” Over the painful years of the Worship Wars — chorus vs hymn vs liturgical music vs who knows what — I’ve clung to a line of that song: “Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.” One day we’ll blearn God’s music and then we’ll get it all right!

  2. Re: Rachel Held Evans’ comments on Luther, 2 Cor 6:17, “Come out and be separate,” is a two-part command. There’s “coming out,” which Luther certainly did, and there’s “be separate”—actually living in a different manner—which was not so distinct in some respects.

    I agree that it can be pretty disconcerting to discover some of these unsavory details. Church history can be as raw and unvarnished as biblical history (e.g., Dav id’s schemes to cover up his sin with Bathsheba) when you look at it honestly.

    For my part, I’m not sure I can figure out “such a great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) when so much of our lives can go unchanged. This is an aspect of God’s mercy I may never understand in this life.

    • “For my part, I’m not sure I can figure out “such a great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) when so much of our lives can go unchanged. This is an aspect of God’s mercy I may never understand in this life.”

      Agreed completely. Maybe there are parts of our lives that people 500 years from now will look back on and see as completely sinful and frightening. God’s grace truly is our only hope.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Maybe there are parts of our lives that people 500 years from now will look back on and see as completely sinful and frightening.

        That’s why they’re called “blind spots”. Because only an outsider can see them.

    • Yeah. Don’t read the bible if you are looking for perfect people.

  3. Ana-baptists non-violent? Münster Rebellion???!!!

    • The totality of Anabaptist history would definitely be a non-violent history. While no one denies the reality of the Munster Rebellion, the story of Dirk Wilhelm(not sure of that spelling) who returned and pulled his would be captor from the freezing lake, and many other stories in The Martyr’s Mirror,( a huge book full of stories of martyrs, Anabaptist and others) would indicate a deep commitment to non violence as a basic tenet of their faith.
      Actually, my husband just pointed out to me that a serious study of Anabaptist history would also show that many in Anabaptist leadership pled with those in Munster to abandon their rebellion and violent ways.

  4. Regarding Luther’s anti-semitic views, why does it come as a surprise that Christians can be flawed – even fatally flawed – and still be used by God? Dismissing someone out of hand because of their imperfections is as foolish as blind, unqualified following after a “man of God” or “God’s annointed”. I feel more comfortable following a Christian who I know is flawed than to blindly follow someone whom everyone thinks walks on water all day. I don’t agree 100% with any Christian leader or Christian book I read; it doesn’t mean that I can’t ackowledge where I do agree with them.

    That is not to make light of anti-semitism; it is a real problem that Lutherans must deal with.

  5. Chaplain Mike…would you mind sending your email address to mine please? I hit the contact link and it asks me to sign up for Outlook, which I do not wish to do, but can’t see your email address. I would like to ask a private question of you please. Thank you.

  6. I want to know who is behind the Slander Luther Campaign and why? It seems it has been coming up more and more. And it isn’t that they don’t draw on actual history or anything. But it seems to be a bit more lately and I wonder why. Patton the other day sent out an Email about Luther not accepting Jame and Revelation. But no explanation as to why. Then on typically Lutheran blogs there has been an upsurge of Calvary Chapelites coming around and just trashing on Luther adding nothing constructive to any discussions. So…. Sorry Rachel had her earth shattered. Us Lutherans have been dealing with this reality for quite sometime. And no we don’t defend what he says about Jews. At least we try not too. But then.. and here it goes.
    Luther had Jewish students whom he loved dearly if memory serves me correct. This was not racial hatred, this was a hatred of a religion that denied Jesus is the Christ. Sometimes though it is a bit hard to hate a religion without despising the people that hold to it. I know. Try as I might, I live in Mormon land, and some days it is pretty difficult to hate the sin and not the sinner….
    Luther also said harsher things about his own people. There is hyperbole and lots of it in Luther.
    Ana-baptists were not all loving. And quite frankly if it wasn’t for others loving them enough to put their own lives on the line for Ana-baptists such as the Amish and Mennonites there would be no Ana-baptists left. Pacifism is fine, but in the face of war it is just cowardice.

    I suppose the harder thing for me to understand is this. If Luther was so instrumental in the Nazi movement, which was not Christian at all, why is it that men who spent their lives studying Luther and taking him seriously risked their lives to save Jews? I’m talking of men like Bonhoefer, Sasse, Kai Munk, Bishop Bergrave, and countless others. I’m left wondering who had the more accurate picture of Luther? and it isn’t the neurotic psycho for Austria.

    To blame Luther for the Holocaust is just a bit to far fetched. He was abused by the Nazi’s twisted and distorted to be used for their purposes. I don’t like the fact that it was easy for them to do. But a little honesty about the history of anti-semitism in Europe, and the actual ideas that led to the Holocaust would be nice. The Holocaust Museum in D.C for instance loses a bit of credibility for me when it attempts to blame Luther for the holocaust, and hardly mentions Nietzche, or how heavily Darwinism contributed to Hitler’s atrocities. Furthermore it is a bit insulting to men like Bonhoefer and Kai Munk who because of what they learned from Luther were led to give their lives to defeat Nazi’s, to then blame Luther for the Holocaust and antisemitism in general.
    A good book to read on all this is “The Fabricated Luther”
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Fabricated-Luther-ebook/dp/B002QHATPG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1287501727&sr=8-1

    • This is, just to be clear, the very definition of an Ad hominem attack and against a man long dead. No I don’t like that Luther was an anti-semite. I like it even worse that rather than looking at what the man actually taught, and the way he shaped our society we enjoy today that people are led to ignore anything else he wrote by what is an ad hominem attack.

      • Steve Brown once talked about this nonsense of Luther bashing. Yes, Luther was an anti-semite, John Calvin had a guy burned at the stake, St. Augustine had a child before he was converted and chose not to acknowledge it throughout his life. I find it interesting that in the the twenty-first these type of people would not be thought of even as Christian. I am sorry but we are all really wretched. Why do we think that someone like Martin Luther just doesn’t sin that much? Are we not sinners and saints?
        Growing up in the type of religious that I did, one would say that clearly these people just weren’t saved. In fact, you could actually not be saved by not witnessing enough, drinking, smoking, cursing… etc.

        Martin Luther has been a source of strength for me for many months; so much, I am considering living the baptist faith. I know all about what he said, did. I know that he was a sinner but he ran and hid himself in the Cross of Christ because that is enough.

        • RCran,
          Yes, if you want to talk about the journey you are considering, that of leaving the baptist faith, feel free to contact me.
          But what you say is exactly right. Only when we are righteous enough to cast the first stone are we going to be able to dismiss a persons theology because of his sin.

        • This is what scares me when people talk about how great the United States would be if everyone was Christian. Christians are still flawed and do break the law – no matter how pious or sanctified they claim to be. Sometimes those who are most confident of their sanctification are the worse law-breakers, because they have wrapped up their actions in an impervious cover of rationalization and self-justification.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.”
            — Capt Mal Reynolds, Free-Trader Serenity

            And I believe C.S.Lewis had something similar to say on the matter.

        • For me, it’s not so much Luther-bashing or Calvin-bashing that I’m worried about – it’s the opposite. I see these men almost idolized by many Christians. I’ve seen people quote them as if they were Scripture. I think it’s good to remember that these had some very serious flaws as well.

          I also do think that the point that Rachel made about theology is a good one. If a person’s theology fails to cause them to be more loving towards other people, than it seems to me it fails at the most basic level.

      • Why blame antisemitism on Luther? Blame it on Rome! It was a pope who was the first to create a ghetto and who forced jewish men to wear yellow hats…
        To be quite honest… religiously inspired antisemitism was NORMAL in the Middle Ages and during the Reformation.
        We tend to forget that little fact… it’s only the Holocaust that changed things, at least officially. Let’s not discuss anything pertaining to the state of Israel for many do see in the way this state is being treated by the West a more hidden form of antisemitism, be that true or not.
        Five hundred years later Luther’s remarks on the jews are appalling and deeply shocking, in his day and age however I guess they were quite normal and acceptable.
        The real issue here is NOT Luther, it is one of the black pages of the history of Christendom (the orthodox also had their share of pogroms remember…)
        And yet another question: can nowadays muslim minorities in the West be compared to pre WWII jews as some like to do? If yes why and if not why not…

      • Bror, if I may defend Rachel here, I don’t think she was attacking or slandering Luther in her article. She was merely expressing the personal disorientation that discovering Luther’s writings against the Jews caused in her heart and mind. If you go to her blog and read the article, you will see that she raises questions and expresses her dismay, but does not form hard and fast final conclusions about M.L.

        • Chaplain Mike,
          If I may, I understand that it is disheartening and disorienting to hear of Luther’s diatribe of Jews. But Rachel’s article when I read it displayed non of the Christian charity regarding this, and advocates throwing away his theology in toto, because the man hated.
          Which is the point of an ad hominem attack. Neither did she care to take any of the charitable defenses of what Luther said into mind, but wrote them all off as dismissive.
          The truth is us Lutheran’s can’t make heads or tales of why Luther wrote this diatribe. It doesn’t fit with the rest of what he wrote, even if it does carry with it some of his typical hyperbole.
          We who call ourselves Lutheran have been wrestling with this for a long time. As I noted above, most who take what Luther taught seriously are led to dismiss what he wrote in the Jews and their lies based on what he had written earlier and what defines us as Lutherans, we especially like his Two Kingdoms theory, with which this diatribe clashes greatly. But it is also a lesson to us of what hate can do. It is the lessons that I have had to learn as a Lutheran dealing with this that has led me to be, even as a conservative, quite sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants in this country.
          On the other hand, The people I find who have the greatest problem with Luther on this, and I don’t know Rachel so I don’t suspect her of this, are people who hold to a pre-millenial eschatology and think of Jews as a privileged race. Many of these same people say absolutely horrific things about people of other races, hispanics, African Americans, etc. And well, I find that just a bit problematic. I’ve wondered off topic.
          I was talking about Rachel. I’d be more sympathetic to her if she weren’t so judgmental in what she wrote, which did amount to an ad hominem attack, ie, we shouldn’t listen to Luther because he was hateful at one time in his life.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I really don’t think Darwinism contributed much. Anti-semitism was well known in Europe prior to Darwin. The concept of building the master race by weeding out the inferiors seems to me to be more Mendel than Darwin.

      I recently read a story in my Hebrew text about a Catholic priest who saved a bunch of Jewish teenagers by hiding them in his Church basement and acquiring forged papers for them. The kicker at the end is that priest was John Paul II. I don’t know that the story is true but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      I suppose my point would be that the Germans weren’t anti-Semites because they were Lutheran (in fact many are Catholic) it was because they were central European. The Western Europeans (here I would number the French, Spanish, English, Irish, Scots, Welsh, Manx, Portuguese, Sicilians and Basques) had begun to recover from their earlier bouts of anti-semitism (which had mostly resulted in them expelling their Jews). The Poles, Germans, Ukrainians and Russians hadn’t.

      The heads of government in those European nations used religion as a motivation to harass the Jews (here, I would say that Marx was absolutely right about how religion had been used, I just don’t agree with him that that’s the purpose of religion).

    • cermak_rd says:

      Pacifism in the face of war is not cowardice. It is not cowardice to lay down your life so you do not have to kill another. It is in their reading of the Scriptures that they find that requirement, that they turn the other cheek even unto death. While I do not agree with them, I would have to say that Just War theory is a farther stretch of the text than pure pacifism is.

    • Nietzche has also been wrongly blamed for Nazism. Nietzche’s uber-man didn’t wear a brown shirt and have blue eyes. National socialism was a vial twisting and manipulation of anything to advance its cause. Nazis used Nietzche’s courage and will-to-power just like many unsavory, scary political talking-heads are using Ayn Rand today.

    • Just to set the record straight: Anabaptists believe that Christians are to be non-resistant not pacifist. This means that they don’t participate in government in any form (for many groups this would include even volunteering as EMS). They pay taxes, but don’t receive Social Security payouts, Medicare etc.

      And I don’t think that anyone who knows there history of suffering for their beliefs, whether in the 16th century or during the World Wars would think they suffered from cowardice…..

  7. As far as Luther being anti-semitic… Yes it’s true. But how can we trust his theology if he failed to love?
    Sister, we ALL fail to love at times. Nobody is free from grievous flaws. To modern sensibilities, his flaws seem demonic, though at the time they weren’t considered flaws. Consider that future generations may look back on us and be appalled by some things we naturally assume are so right. We are just as guilty as Luther. To say HIS err discredits him completely is self-righteous arrogance. I know, it doesn’t feel like that, it just seems horrific that Luther could say such things. But if we follow that question to it’s logical conclusion (How can we trust his theology if he failed to love), then since we all fail to love at times then nobody can ever know anything about God, since none of us even deserve the right to think about Him.
    A reaction of horror is not un-justified. But just remember, we are not so perfect in our ideology either. If anything, it holds a mirror up to us for us to see how flaws we dismiss so easily in ourselves may someday be the root of mass havoc. Not that I have any idea which ones those might be, of course.

    • A reaction of horror is not un-justified. But just remember, we are not so perfect in our ideology either. If anything, it holds a mirror up to us for us to see how flaws we dismiss so easily in ourselves may someday be the root of mass havoc. Not that I have any idea which ones those might be, of course.

      very well said, Miguel; we just need to spread that “reaction of horror” around a bit….. which way to my spiritual Director ?? Maybe another way of restating some of these posts is: sure, it’s OK to trust his (luther’s) theology, insofar as it reflects Christ, but a general distrust of ALL men/women is also a wise idea.

      Good post, M.
      Greg R

  8. After watching Paul Zahl’s video, which was amazing, I realized that very few churches focuses that heavily on grace. I mean we sing Amazing Grace, we here Grace here and Grace there, but the way in which he describes what God has done and how he picks us up in crisis is just nothing short of beautiful! I guess grace is scary to christians because it implies that you can do what you want and God will still love you. We like grace but then we immediately have to have some obedience passage to go with it. Can we just can’t stand the thought that it is really that free? I struggle with that daily. I have been so conditioned to “work for God” that it was the most oppressive chains. Now, I am learning that Christ really finished it, really met all the laws demands and now I am free to be who I am supposed to be. I am really free!?

    I suggest everyone listen to Paul Zahl and check out the mockingbird website. I can’t go a day without reading internet monk and mockingbird!

  9. Just so we”re clear on the level of Luther’s antisemitism, here’s a quote from his book entitled “On the Jews and Their Lies,” which was later used by the Nazis to stir up anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany:

    “My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire…Second, that all their books– their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible– be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted…Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country…Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it…The rulers must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs.”

    This is not a smear campaign. It’s the truth, and I am disheartened by it.

    It pains me to think that Martin Luther might have celebrated the Holocaust.

    • Substitute “liberals” for “Jews” and reword it a bit, and you’ve got Glenn Beck. Nothing changes.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        Funny- it sounded like Keith Obermann talking about conservatives to me.

        • cermak_rd says:

          Can I point out that regardless of their rhetoric, neither one of those gentlemen are actually wishing for the extincion of all the liberals or conservatives. After all, without players on the opposite side, the game of politics would get a bit boring and no one would be willing to pay for ads on the political shows anymore because no one would be interested.

          This however, this quote from Martin Luther is disgusting. It goes beyond the benign condemning to hell that other religious figures have stated regarding the Jews. It is wishing that they, as a religious community would vanish. It is, in essence, wishing for genocide.

          I’m a liberal. When asked to name some action that is always in every circumstances wrong, I’ve always mentioned genocide. It would be interesting to know what circumstances led up to his opinion.

    • Rachel, I’m with you in my sense of horror and disgust when I read screeds like this. But I’m also in agreement with those who remind us that Luther was a man of his times, and his times were pretty horrible and disgusting. From my privileged (and hopefully more enlightened) perspective, I find the kind of hatred and cruelty that was part and parcel of medieval life unfathomable.

      And then I remember that I live just a few generations past the day when fellow Americans would subjugate and lynch people for being black. And when we consider that the 20th century was the bloodiest in history, I shiver. And when we see what happens in more tribal societies like Congo and Sudan even today, I thank God that I live in a society where kindness is recognized and may be practiced.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        And ironically, the spread of tolerance & kindness in Western society is a result of the Reformation and the doctrines of Divine Grace, championed by Martin Luther.

        Another thing- the bile Luther spewed against the Jews was actual government policiy in Catholic & Orthodox societies for centuries before then. Too bad that the Golem legend wasn’t true. *L*

        (Off to write my “Martin Luther Meets the Golem” comic book…)

        • And ironically, the spread of tolerance & kindness in Western society is a result of the Reformation and the doctrines of Divine Grace, championed by Martin Luther.

          Do you really believe this? I don’t want to underestimate what Luther and the Reformers did, but when it came to the Church and the power of the state, they still largely maintained that the two entities should be closely tied, and that the state could and should use it’s power to enforce Church law. The modern notion of religious tolerance is probably more related to Enlightenment thinking which privatized religion. From the Christian perspective, the Anabaptists were probably the most tolerant of groups that sprung up after the Reformation.

          • Cedric Klein says:

            Don’t you think the Enlightenment had its roots in the Reformation (as well as in the Renaissance)? Especially the Anglo-Scot-American version of the Enlightenment which did not reject its Protestant Christian heritage, as opposed to the French/Continental variety which revolted against its Catholic Christian heritage & fell into Illuminism & Jacobinism.

          • Phil,
            Whereas what you state is true of Calvin, it is not of Luther. In fact Luther’s two kingdoms theory as taught in “on secular Authority” gave rise to the idea of a separation of Church and state that ultimately gave birth to our first amendment.

  10. Yes, and Paul was a pharisee, ugly, arrogant andmay have had a “little man” syndrome.The Bible is full of imperfect, sinners. Only one, Jesus was perfect.Without his grace we are all doomed. Judging people who lived 500 years ago is a waste of time.

    • “Judging people who lived 500 years ago is a waste of time.”

      As is judging people today.

    • Rachel would be the first to accept “imperfect sinners.” Let’s not miss her point because we are 500 years beyond Luther. There is a vast difference between being an imperfect sinner and being an influential person advocating destruction of a group of people who practice a different religion.

      • cermak_rd says:

        I read through the comments at Rachel’s site and was disheartened to see comments that equated MLK’s cheating (if he did it) on his wife with advocating genocide against a religious community. While I understand the peculiar Christian understanding that all sin is equal, I can see a huge chasm between those two items.

  11. John Frye is FANTASTIC. I read him whenever he has a new blog entry.

  12. Respectfully, let me echo Miguel… “Sister, we ALL fail to love at times.”

    Luther points to something within each of us we’d rather dismiss and escape, we’d feel better about ourselves for certain. He reminds those of us who would dare to stop and notice (if we’ll look close enough) that the grace of God is our only hope and lone rescue. The only hook to hang our hat on. Our only claim to life and the only sure thing we can stake our destinies upon. Luther was flawed no question. For all he may have done to further the gospel, he was a royal sinner. Like me, and you. He pointed to the goodness of God, not his own piety. And he is a voice we could use more of rather than less – smack dab in the middle of this self-righteous and “Look at me!” era of Christianity.

    Ran across this quote yesterday and I think it’s fitting, “Forgiving love is a possibility only for those who know that they are not good, who feel themselves in need of Divine mercy, who live in a dimension deeper and higher than that of moral idealism, feel themselves as their fellow men convicted of sin by a holy God and know that the differences between the good man and the bad man are insignificant in his sight.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics

    We all have plenty to forgive ourselves for, and after that, maybe we can begin to forgive Luther.

    And a favorite might be fitting here as well, “A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of lessons. To take no account of oneself, but to always think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection. Should you see another person openly doing evil, or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We all are frail; Consider none more frail than yourself.” ~Thomas à Kempis, Inner Life

    Amen.

    As with Paul, David, Peter – or any of the men I admire within the pages of scripture – my admiration only goes so far. They were mere signposts at best.

    Reformer Luther was, hero he wasn’t. Jesus alone gets that title for me.

    God is Love. Only he loves perfectly. And when we fail to love, and oft times miserably – his love remains steadfast. Luther only reminds us of this splendid and glorious truth once again. Let the Luther bashing go on. Men who stake their everything on grace will be forever and ever be the object of much scorn.

    Count me in with Luther any day of the week.

    • Count me in too, Ken. All the way.

      in my mind it only increases my sense of humility and dependence when I realize how wrong even a great teacher like Luther can be at times.

      • Thought I came on a bit strong and have so many flaws myself that I hesitated to comment. Didn’t want to be mean-spirited for sure and wasn’t that I know of, but was thinking I might come across that way. Luther has been instrumental in combating a self-righteousness and smugness I deal with to this day – 23 years after coming to Christ. The Holy Spirit has also used his writings to awaken a renewed appreciation for the gospel of grace. So, I thank God for him, and many others – imperfect as they were/are. I guess the point “How can we say that Luther had good theology when he failed to love?” just irratated me. We’ve all failed to love, and me first, so none of should be talking if that’s the case. Rachel may be as sincere as one can be, but I found what she said worth challenging. I’m sure she’s a great woman, wife, and a fine writer no question.

        I used to read and comment much more here before April. Michael’s passing was like losing the older brother I never had. The year previous we had exchanged emails about life and all that it entails and felt I’d made a true friend. His writings were incredibly close to home for me. I appreciate the work you are carrying on here Mike. Jeff Dunn (I think that’s the guy who Michael landed as his agent) has been refreshing – as well as others. Thanks so much and keep doing what you and your friends are doing to keep the torch burning. Michael would be extra proud.

      • @ Chap Mike: I’ve noticed that Luther wrote “On Jews and Their Lies” when he was 60, just a few yrs before his death. Has anyone to your knowledge pursued the possibility of dimentia or other brain pathology as a possible explanation for language that has such raw violence to it ??

        Just wondering; my brothers father-in-law did a radical 180deg. turn for the worse with dimentia and became someone unrecognizable his last 2 yrs. Maybe tht was Lulther, I don’t know.

        Greg R

  13. Chap Mike! Thank you so, so much for asking for prayers about my biopsy! I just wanted to let you know that I heard from the doctor today and it’s not cancer! The mass still needs to probably be removed because they’re not exactly sure what it is, but at least we know what it’s not!!!

    Love you all.
    Andrew