"I am amazed that you are so readily deserting the one who called you in the grace of His Son and turning to another message". Galatians 1:6.
So, the big day of the 500th anniversary is almost upon us, and all manner of exuberant and clarifying materials have clamored for our attention as we approach the moment, but I find myself asking one question.
If the good doctor Martin were sat with a brew at table with us right now, what would he want us to take away regarding all of this?
Back in the mid 90's, I was suddenly struck by, more than anything else, what was paramount about Luther's perpetual work from that October day in 1517 until the day he died.
It was made plain to me again yesterday whilst reading an item on the 1517 legacy page.
We can spend so much of our times wittering on about all manner of supposed 'truths', but at the end of the day, it really all comes down to Christ coming to us, both in His Incarnation, and then, in the various ways He has left with us that His spirit uses to bring Him to us.
When we worship, is it around the cross, and the astonishing reconciliation that God has brought through the atoning, justifying work of His Son, expressed in our confession and absolution?
When we face doubts and trails, are we able to find surety in that we have been baptized into Christ and are therefore dead to what was and alive to the magnitude of His marvelous redemption?
When we sit in church in our need, are we fed by His body and blood, given for us and to us in the bread and the wine, showing how we truly become His by the total giving of Him?
When we pause for a moment, we realize that everything that sustains our bodies comes in a similar fashion - we have to take in what is good to be healthy. Why, then, if God has made this so clear in the natural realm, do we think it's any different when it comes to what will feed us in regards to being born again? Why do we think that we have the inner resources to better ourselves and change the world for good? It's like a drowning man believing he'll be OK without a life-line.
Theology goes bad when we start to put anything in the spot that should only, ever, be filled by Jesus Christ and the good news of His saving work.
It wasn't long, some five centuries ago, before Wittenburg and then Europe would witness a plethora of "teachers" who would seek to put all kinds of provisos, footnotes and inserts into the plain and true message Luther had sought to recover for the church (see the amusing video below as an example of how this happened), and thereby began the fracturing of Protestantism into hundreds of different denominations, but this was never the intention, and this isn't the concord that is fostered when we return to that same essential message brother Martin sought to continually declare.
So, the good Doctor's answer would be simple - bring Christ to each and every one, that they, by faith in that good news, may find true joy and comfort with God.
Let's hope that this anniversary allows us to camp there, so the 1,000th anniversary can revel in the same light.
Peace with God comes through Jesus Christ.
Sola Fide, Sola Gracia, Sola Christos!
Oh - Happy Reformation day (31st).