True Reformation

A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is
the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one. — Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian

Happy Reformation Day

A Prayer of Martin Luther

Almighty, eternal God! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in You!

O the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength from this world, all is lost. O my God! Help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beg You.

The work is not mine, but Yours. I have no business here. I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Yours, my Lord; and it is righteous and everlasting! Stand by me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It would be vain!

You have chosen me for this work. I know it! Therefore, O God, accomplish Your own will! Stand by me in the name of Jesus Christ, who will be my shelter and my shield, yes, my mighty fortress, through the might and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

I am ready, even to lay down my life for this cause, patient as a little lamb. For the cause is holy. It is Your own. Though this world be filled with devils, and though my body, originally the work and creation of Your hands, go to destruction in this cause — yes, though it be shattered into pieces — Your Word and Your Spirit they are good to me still! It concerns only the body. The soul is Yours. It belongs to You and will also remain with You forever. God help me. Amen.

To “live dead” is to walk in new life

Philipp Jakob Spener was a great Lutheran pietist. He followed on the heels of Luther’s Reformation and fully believed in the education of the Christian. It is important to be taught the way of Christ. People can be trained to respond to the gospel.

Wilhoit’s book, Spiritual Formation as If the Church Mattered, gives a synopsis of Spener’s philosophy. He thoroughly believed in the priesthood of all believers… and training them for that goal.

1. It is the duty of every Christian to study the Word of the Lord. When we spend time in the study of Scriptures we can order our lives by its priorities and minister the word of truth to people around us.

2. We have the responsibility to teach others. We start with our own house. We exhort and correct. We pray over those we have in our lives. We are concerned for their salvation. We are to speak the word of truth and influence people as much as possible to walk in paths of righteousness.

3. Stewardship of life. We offer up ALL we are and have to the service of the Lord. Our prayers, our thanksgiving, our good works, our alms ALL belong to the Lord.

To “live dead” isn’t about just getting rid of things. It is putting on the equipment that will help us walk in new life.


Thoughts About “Icons”

Recent blog activity has been caught up in a discussion over the Manhattan Declaration. This is a statement coming from Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals concerning three major points about our current culture in America. The debate is over whether this is just some right wing political move or it’s legitimate.

Some of the disagreement comes down to theology. How can an evangelical stand alongside a Catholic? Some objections (like from John MacArthur) raise up old lines of division that show the Body of Christ really has a hard time standing together for just about ANYTHING without an argument breaking out. (There’s a reason it’s called the “family” of God, I suppose.)

Some objections raised would be Catholics and Orthodox theology. Perhaps it’s also the veneration of saints and icons. There are fundamentalists and Evangelicals who have a serious problem with the saints and icons of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

This stirred my thoughts. In my own sordid sense of humor, I would present the idea that while we don’t have “icons” in the sense of the Orthodox Church, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Reformed and other Protestants do have our own versions. We take the “high” road and say it’s not worship. But I would argue there are times we fall into celebrity cults in the Church.

It’s a serious issue I’ve seen raised since the days of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Now, it’s even hit the Reformed movement. The likes of Mark Driscoll and others raise serious questions about our tendency to celebrate certain people. I am NOT saying Driscoll and others seek worship! I am saying we tend to set these guys up in places they do not belong.

I would offer (in a sense of humor kind of way) some of our Protestant “icons” through the centuries.