Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Blues






"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them...Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called LEAST in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:17-20

"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit....Thus, by their fruit will you recognize them. Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matt. 7:18-23

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there are no law." Gal. 5:22 & 23



So today is Halloween. It's a great evening for kids to dress up like aliens, superheros, pencils, ghosts and zombies. For those who truly want to scare the dickens out of their neighbors, children will dress up as candidates for office, such as Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. Once said costume has been donned, the tots will then proceed to collect all manner of things to rot their teeth.

It's also a great night for really, really "Religious" people to get all bent out of shape, because as we all know Halloween is a thoroughly pagan day that belongs to Satan. So dressing as a pencil & acquiring hershey bars is evidence that you have bowed before the dark lord. Even worse, some kids might come to your door collecting donations for UNICEF!...which is a sign that they support a one world government.

Halloween is bad! It's completely pagan! It has no redeeming value...unlike that other holiday called Christmas, which obviously has no pagan influences what so ever, and is as pure as the driven snow that lights upon the evergreen (The symbol for eternal life in Nordic, Odin/Wotan worshipping cultures of N. Europe) that you will then cut down and place in your house so that the former Bishop of Turkey & his slaves can then have a place to lay presents...or coal...or simply kidnap naughty children. (Isn't that right, Santa????)

Many good "Christian" types simply shun Halloween all together and simply let Satan have it for his Wiccan bonfires and ritual sacrifice. Then there are others who seek to adapt the holiday just ever so slightly. The following is a fine example.

In case you're a bit dense, this is a spoof.



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Well, October 31st is also the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Door back in 1517.

The following is actual video footage from that day...




And thus began the great Protestant Reformation. The next thing you know, there were Lutherans running about instilling passive/aggressive tendencies in Minnesotans. This was followed by Anglicans, so that King Henry could recycle through numerous wives. After that came the Reformed/Presbyterians, who were certain that they had been predestined to set up a theocratic dictatorship in Geneva, invent golf in Scotland, and wear odd hats in Holland until their numbers were strong enough to set up an Aparthied regime in South Africa.

In the mean time, the Anabaptists thought it would be a good idea to get politics out of religion altogether...and that it was probably a more biblical idea to wait until someone was old enough to make a public confession of following Jesus BEFORE they were baptized and told that, like it or not, they were now a "Christian." For there effort, they were promptly persecuted and killed by the other Protestants.

While all of this was happening, the Catholics decided to have a "Counter Reformation," and promptly began to slaughter anyone who disagreed with whatever the Pope was saying on any given day. In fact, numerous religious wars seemed like the best and most obvious way to settle biblical differences. Thus, through much use of State sponsored torture & bloodshed, Europe was assured that by the end of the 20th Century, most Europeans would want nothing what so ever to do with "Christianity,"...hence, why the majority of Europe is now referred to as a "Post-Christian" society.


And all of it was done in the name of Jesus!

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I came across a blog post the other day that really got me thinking. The article is on the history of John Calvin, specifically his actions, attitudes and behaviors while he was the dictator of Geneva. The article is HUGE, but give it a read when you get the chance. http://planetpreterist.com/content/right-heresy

Long story, short, John Calvin was a cruel, murderous tyrant. To be fair, he was also brilliant. But that doesn't wipe away the fact that he will have plenty to answer to when he stands before Christ. I really don't know of too many folks nowadays who would be interested in living in Geneva under Calvin. (Unless they are a really, really hard-core Fundamentalist...and even then...) I'm fairly convinced that I would either have been killed, or certainly exiled within a matter of months if I had lived there.

One thing that the article speaks about is how so many of Calvin's modern day followers seem to have a similar brutal attitudes towards approaching differences in theology as did their theological forefather. My friend Al, who is a fairly strong Calvinist, openly admits that "Calvinism" has a very bad reputation due to the perceived arrogance and condescension of these folks.

I think that this article might be more accurate than I care to admit on this point. I am fairly convinced that if certain famous pastors & preachers were given a chance, they would be putting other Believers in prison for not towing the Reformed line of thought...or worse.

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The fact of the matter is that most of these "Reformers" were really on to something. The idea that people should be able to read the bible for themselves, and in there own language, was incredibly freeing. The truth that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and not by jumping through hoops and indulgences, was even more freeing...and biblically spot on.

Yet, so many of these reformer guys were also swine. They could be beyond petty and cruel. Oddly enough, for a group of folks who preached against "Works," many of them then turned around and installed a whole new set of "Works." Instead of physical actions, such as communion, bribing a priest, or praying the Rosary, this new set of works was all about the mind. You had to believe the right confession of faith. You had to intellectually embrace a particular doctrine. If you didn't agree, then you weren't a "Christian"...or at best, a second-class christian.

And the way these reformers so often treated their own, let alone others who were outside their group...


<--- "The Ineffable Name" was the last major bit of writing that Luther did before he died. It was essentially a angry screed against the Jews. He called them the children of the Devil and other pleasant things. He encouraged people to burn down their homes and synagogues. This tract was used by Hitler as one of many justifications for his persecution of Jews. In fact, it has only been translated into English by the American Nazi party.

After reading this thing, Philip Melanchthon, Luther's right-hand man, shook his head and said along the lines; "I can't believe that this came out of the mouth of a man of God."

The only way I can wrap my head around this is to note that in the last years of his life, due to intestinal and other physical problems, Martin Luther seems to have completely lost his marbles. But still...


I read this about Luther, and about the brutality of John Calvin and I really have to scratch my head. They "Said" the right things for the most part, but their public lives were not something to be emulated...and certainly not very Christ-like.

For the record, I never expect perfection out of anyone. We will struggle with sin until the day we die. However, there is a significant difference between a Pastor who struggles with alcoholism, an Elder who struggles with same-sex attraction, a deacon who likes to gamble a wee bit too much...and a church leader calling for his followers to main, burn and kill people in Jesus name.


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I chalk this up to the whole "Discernment of the Holy Spirit" thing, but have you ever just gotten a vibe off of a person in your church that made you think; "Hhmm, I wonder if he/she really is saved?" This person might say all of the right things. They might even be out "Witnessing" and sticking tracts in people's hands. But there is a part of you that is seriously questioning them.

I dunno. I've gotten that vibe off of some others from time to time. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that years later I discovered that many had long since left the faith. I'm not totally sure what to make of all of that, but I can't simply discount it either.


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Theology is great. It's how we give an answer for what we believe. It also helps guide us in our walk with Jesus. But at the same time, it ISN'T Jesus..."The author and perfecter of our faith." I see all the time how many pastors & teachers will elevate their theology over Jesus. It always ends up resembling a cult to me.

I think at this point, I would trust much easier a person with a simple, basic faith, than I would a "Learned" person. It seems to me that this simple faith allows the Spirit to do it's work much easier in that person's life.

Jesus didn't speak a great deal about complex theology. He talked about simply having a child-like faith in him. He also said that we would know who his real followers were by the fruit they produced. Paul expanded on this idea when he gave specifics as to what this fruit would look like; "Love, joy, peace, patience, etc." There simply were not complicated confessions to nod your head to.

Furthermore, it would appear that according to Jesus, there would indeed be those who were saved...and yet they did a terrible job at teaching other Believers. (Matt. 5:17-20) These teachers, though saved, would be called "Least" in the new kingdom. The only way I can understand this is to try and look, once again, at whatever fruit they may or may not be producing, and NOT their theological purity.

The truly scary part is that there will be plenty who stand in front of Jesus saying "Lord, Lord," and yet Jesus never knew them at all. Apparently, they never produced an once of that Fruit of the Spirit regardless of how much they knew the bible. (Fred Phelps, you are in big trouble, mister.)

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It would appear that the Reformation will never be truly over. Theology is a great tool, but that's about it. What every person needs is a reformation of the heart. Simply faith. Simple trust. To crawl up into the Father's lap and offer him a broken & contrite heart. I'm not sure if it gets much more complicated...or more better & beautiful, than that.




I dunno. It's just a thought.

Peace

Joe


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