Twas the dawn of Reformation (a poem/parody)

What happens when a history buff and theology geek can’t sleep around Christmas time?
How about a mash-up that goes something like this (updates in italics):

Reformers: Luther, Erasmus, and Zwingli

Reformers: Luther, Erasmus, and Zwingli

‘Twas the dawn of Reformation, all thro’ the land,
penance was sold for a Cathedral so grand.
The theses were hung on Wittenburg with great care,
In hopes that needed reform soon would be there.
Now, Martin Luther was torn with guilt you see,
the gospel of Romans was what set him free,
But the marketing plan used by one Tetzel,
tied up good news into a works based pretzel.

When all across Europe there arose such a clatter,
it was clear to see the gospel does matter.
Cajetan was sent to Ausburg in a flash,
to examine Luther who was acting quite rash.
Next up was Eck, the debate was quite a show,
to Papal authority Luther said no.
Then what in Martin’s inbox should now appear,
but a Bull from the Pope, you’re out now my dear.

Now, what next in history should happen , just wait
But the Diet of Worms to decide Luther’s fate.
More rapid than eagles his accusers came,
they questioned his writings and put him to shame.
Luther asked for more time and prayed thru the nite,
Before them he said – Here I Stand for what’s right.
Tho’ captive to God, he was hidden from view,
Tis’ dangerous to challenge the Pope’s purview.

Erasmus the scholar, who brought back the Greek,
A fight with Luther he did not want or seek.
For, the Catholic Church, both sought to restore,
But on this issue they created rancor.
Does anyone have the ability to choose,
or is it our God who determines you lose?
The Bondage of the Will or is it set free,
a doctrine on which we may never agree.

In Zurich, Zwingli joined Luther’s reform work,
After fighting in Marsburg, called him a jerk.
Despite much in common, one thing caus’d tension,
the presence of Christ, the point of dissention.
Now what do you believe and hold to be true?
These things Luther presents in Augsburg to you.
Translating the Bible so it can be read,
Luther helped many change to living from dead.

Now two more reformers entered the fray,
and sola scriptura was what they did say.
The faithful, Calvin said, only God can elect,
sorry if it was you He did not select.
But, Arminius did not see it as such,
instead he taught that coming to faith ‘went Dutch’.
Now, this doctrine they tried to settle in court,
and a TULIP was grown at the Council of Dort.

While in doctrine we don’t all see eye to eye,
In God and His Word, does authority lie.
Reformed and reforming by this we’re driven:
Telling all – by faith, salvation is given.
’cause Jesus exclaimed as He rose out of sight,
be My witness to all, thru My power and might.
And in all that we do may God get the glory,
as we live our lives based on this Christmas story.

Happy Reformation Day

Originally published on Oct. 30, 2009

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

On Oct. 31, 1517 Martin Luther (reportedly) nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany thus sparking the Protestant Reformation.
The immediate problem Luther was dealing with was the selling of indulgences to pardon sins and free souls from purgatory. This was an offense to the real good news that we are saved by grace through faith!

A few years after posting the 95 Theses Luther would write Concerning Christian Liberty describing the inner and outer man, and the relationship between faith and works. In this work he gives the following illustration:

To make what we have said more easily understood, let us set it forth under a figure. The works of a Christian man, who is justified and saved by his faith out of the pure and unbought mercy of God, ought to be regarded in the same light as would have been those of Adam and Eve in paradise and of all their posterity if they had not sinned. Of them it is said, “The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. ii. 15). Now Adam had been created by God just and righteous, so that he could not have needed to be justified and made righteous by keeping the garden and working in it; but, that he might not be unemployed, God gave him the business of keeping and cultivating paradise. These would have indeed been works of perfect freedom, being done for no object but that of pleasing God, and not in order to obtain justification, which he already had to the full, and which would have been innate in us all.

So it is with the works of a believer. Being by his faith replaced afresh in paradise and created anew, he does not need works for his justification, but that he may not be idle, but may exercise his own body and preserve it. His works are to be done freely, with the sole object of pleasing God. Only we are not yet fully created anew in perfect faith and love; these require to be increased, not, however, through works, but through themselves.

Let’s remember the courage of Martin Luther and other reformers who took a strong stand for Jesus making sure that the truth of the Gospel was clearly taught at a time when it was dangerous to do so.

Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger is not just a good book and later movie but got its start in the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) way back in 1919. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., writing the unanimous opinion for the SCOTUS in the case Schenck v. United States, gave us the clear and present danger test. It states in essence that there are times when the 1st Amendment right to free speech may be restricted. The test was actually refined through additional cases as a means to protect speech unless the immediate threat of illegal activity was present.

The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.  (emphasis added)

Martin Luther (Lucas Cranach the Elder 1526)

In Luther’s introduction to his commentary on Galatians, he articulates his own test for clear and present danger when it comes to matters of theology. Continue reading