Despite the need I feel to discuss the Orthodox Church as a follow up to last week’s post, I also feel the need for just a bit more of a chat about Luther. He’s a pretty important guy.
I’ve spent a lot of the week talking with my Year 12s about African American History and Langston Hughes, whose poetry they have the privilege of studying this term. After a few chats about Langston Hughes, I declared him “The Dude” of the Harlem Renaissance and the MLK of African American Literature in the 1920s (…open to debate, I know…), and therefore perhaps someone we should know a little bit more about than we do.
As for Langston Hughes, so for Martin Luther.
He is definitely “The Dude” of The Reformation and probably someone the general population should know a bit more about. Here then is my attempt to assist with that…
As with many new campaigns, Luther had a catch phrase (or a few) to help him get his message out: Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria.
So, the Latin’s not super helpful if you’re not well-versed in it. Here they are in English, one by one…
A righteousness that is by faith, not by the law. Luther was a big fan of this idea in The Bible. And I think anyone who truly understands it, is a fan of it too.
Grace: complete forgiveness for all, no matter what they have done. All are welcomed into the faith by grace, because that’s how you become a Christian. Nothing you can do will get you in. Nothing you have done will keep you out.
“The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”
(OK, OK, it wasn’t Luther who penned that. It was Fanny Crosby. But Luther was thinking the same thing…just in German)
Clearly the faith and grace go together.
If salvation is by the Old Testament Judaic law, it’s by doing something. This means there’s no grace.
But if salvation is by grace – a free gift – then all you can do is ask for it and know, by faith, that you have received it.
One of the major differences between Protestants and Catholics is the Confessional. In the Catholic faith, there is a need to speak your sins to another person to allow for them to be forgiven. They act as a mediator between the person and God.
Martin Luther didn’t agree with this. He believed it was Jesus, and Jesus alone who handed out the forgiveness of sins. There was no need for an additional step:
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Unsurprisingly, Luther got that line from The Bible, which leads to…
According to Wikipedia, Luther said “a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it”.
I think that sums up the whole tradition versus scripture (The Bible) discussion. Luther really didn’t care about the correct way to handle the ‘bells and smells’ in Catholic Church rituals. What he cared about much more, was handling The Bible correctly when interpreting it and using it to form your ideas about God… as opposed to kowtowing to someone in leadership in the Church, who might be telling you porkies.
Which leads to…
Soli Deo Gloria
To the glory of God alone. It’s not by anything a person can do, that they are saved. It’s a free gift of grace. We receive the gift by faith.
The forgiveness requires no middleman. God himself does the deal through his son, Jesus.
This genius idea doesn’t come from any human mind. It’s God’s idea, found in The Bible. So, no one gets any ‘props’ or kudos but Him. Or as Fanny Crosby wrote in her lyrics: give him the glory, great things he has done.
Yours in praising the Lord,
Image Credit: Image from Wikipedia Commons
Thanks to the website http://protestantism.co.uk/solas for helping me to say what I wanted to say in this post.