Luther’s love for Erasmus…


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Happy Reformation Day! Here’s the conclusion of Luther’s On the Bondage of the Will (1525). Such Christian love as Luther had for Erasmus is hard to find in our day when diffidence and collegial discourse are virtues and exhortation and assertions, no matter how faithful to God’s Word, are rejected as arrogance. There is nothing new under the sun…

My dear Erasmus, I beg you now for Christ’s sake to do at last as you promised; for you promised you would willingly yield to anyone who taught you better. Have done with respecting of persons! I recognize that you are a great man, richly endowed with the noblest gifts of God—with talent and learning, with eloquence bordering on the miraculous, to mention no others—while I have and am nothing, unless I may venture to boast that I am a Christian. Moreover, I praise and commend you highly for this also, that unlike all the rest you alone have attacked the real issue, the essence of the matter in dispute, and have not wearied me with irrelevances about the papacy, purgatory, indulgences, and such like trifles (for trifles they are rather than basic issues), with which almost everyone hitherto has gone hunting for me without success. You and you alone have seen the question on which everything hinges, and have aimed at the vital spot; for which I sincerely thank you, since I am only too glad to give as much attention to this subject as time and leisure permit. If those who have attacked me hitherto had done the same, and if those who now boast of new spirits and new revelations would still do it, we should have less of sedition and sects and more of peace and concord. But God has in this way through Satan punished our ingratitude.

Unless, however, you can conduct this case differently from the way you have in this Diatribe, I could very much wish that you would be content with your own special gift, and would study, adorn, and promote languages and literature as you have hitherto done with great profit and distinction. I must confess that in this direction you have done no small service to me too, so that I am considerably indebted to you, and in this regard I certainly respect and admire you most sincerely. But God has not willed or granted that you should be equal to the matter at the present at issue between us. I say this, as I beg you to believe, in no spirit of arrogance, but I pray that the Lord may soon make you as much superior to me in this matter as you are in all others. There is no novelty in it, if God instructs Moses through Jethro and teaches Paul through Ananias. For as to your saying that you have wandered very far from the mark if you are ignorant of Christ, I think you yourself see what it implies. For it does not follow that everybody will go astray if you or I do. God is preached as being marvelous in his saints, so that we may regard as saints those who are very far from sanctity. And it is not difficult to suppose that you, since you are human, may not have rightly understood or observed with due care the Scriptures or the sayings of the Fathers under whose guidance you think you are attaining your goal; and of this there is more than a hint in your statement that you are asserting nothing, but have only ‘discoursed.’ No one writes like that who has a thorough insight into the subject and rightly understands it. I, for my part in this book have not discoursed, but have asserted and do assert, and I am unwilling to submit the matter to anyone’s judgment, but advise everyone to yield assent. But may the Lord, whose cause this is, enlighten you and make you a vessel for honor and glory. Amen.

False teachers…

It’s easy for crunchy Reformed Presbyterians to be at peace with evangelical super-pastors in their areas. We are happy for the local mega-church to do the initial evangelistic heavy-lifting, using those muscles we have let weaken with little use. Every unchurched person, we tacitly assume, needs an entry-level church in which to meet Jesus. That’s been the utility of Bill Hybel’s and Perry Noble’s and Stephen Furtick’s ministries—they did the evangelism that Reformed churches were not capable of and got many saved. Now that the evangelism is done, we can draw those young believers away by telling them they need something more than milk. On a grand scale, the body and it’s many parts are working wonderfully well together, right? Perry planted, R.C. watered, and God gave the growth…

Such a process would be possible if at the initial stage those who were practicing “evangelism” were actually practicing evangelism, rather than peddling false assurance to those who aren’t saved. Decisional regeneration is the name of the game, and it is wicked.

For someone who has sucked from the breast of the modern evangelical mega-church, there must be a wholesale repudiation of their first church before they are likely find a home in a healthy, God-fearing church.

Luther got it… Continue reading

Martin Luther's response to his excommunication by Pope Leo X…

LutherThis time of year we remember the anniversary of Martin Luther’s publishing of the 95 Theses, almost 500 years ago on Oct. 31, 1517. Just a few years after that in 1520, the Roman Catholic Church cast Luther out via Papal Bull (“Exsurge Domine“). Luther, given a gift by God for the use of clear and precise words, issued his own excommunication in his “Against the Execrable Bull of the Antichrist.” Here’s an excerpt…

I have heard that a bull against me has gone through the whole earth before it came to me, because being a daughter of darkness it feared the light of my face. For this reason and also because it condemns manifestly the Christian articles I had my doubts whether it really came from Rome and was not rather the progeny of that man of lies, dissimulation, errors, and heresy, that monster John Eck. The suspicion was further increased when it was said that Eck was the apostle of the bull. Indeed the style and the spittle all point to Eck. True, it is not impossible that where Eck is the apostle there one should find the kingdom of Antichrist. Nevertheless in the meantime I will act as if I thought Leo not responsible, not that I may honor the Roman name, but because I do not consider myself worthy to suffer such high things for the truth of God. For who before God would be happier than Luther if he were condemned from so great and high a source for such manifest truth? But the cause seeks a worthier martyr. I with my sins merit other things. But whoever wrote this bull, he is Antichrist. I protest before God, our Lord Jesus, his sacred angels, and the whole world that with my whole heart I dissent from the damnation of this bull, that I curse and execrate it as sacrilege and blasphemy of Christ, God’s Son and our Lord. This be my recantation, Oh bull, thou daughter of bulls.

Having given my testimony I proceed to take up the bull. Peter said that you should give a reason for the faith that is in you, but this bull condemns me from its own word without any proof from Scripture, whereas I back up all my assertions from the Bible. I ask thee, ignorant Antichrist, dost thou think that with thy naked words thou canst prevail against the armor of Scripture? Hast thou learned this from Cologne and Louvain? If this is all it takes, just to say, “I dissent, I deny,” what fool, what ass, what mole, what log could not condemn? Does not thy meretricious brow blush that with thine inane smoke thou withstandest the lightning of the divine Word? Why do we not believe the Turks? Why do we not admit the Jews? Why do we not honor the heretic if damning is all that it takes? But Luther, who is used to bellum, is not afraid of bullam . I can distinguish between inane paper and the omnipotent Word of God.

They show their ignorance and bad conscience by inventing the adverb “respectively.”   My articles are called “respectively some heretical, some erroneous, some scandalous,” which is as much as to say, “We don’t know which are which.” 0h meticulous ignorance! I wish to be instructed, not respectively, but absolutely and certainly. I demand that they show absolutely, not respectively, distinctly and not confusedly, certainly and not probably, clearly and not obscurely, point by point and not in a lump, just what is heretical. Let them show where I am a heretic, or dry up their spittle. They say that some articles are heretical, some erroneous, some scandalous, some offensive. The implication is that those which are heretical are not erroneous, those which are erroneous are not scandalous, and those which are scandalous are not offensive. What then is this, to say that something is not heretical, not scandalous, not false, but yet is offensive? So then, you impious and insensate papists, write soberly if you want to write. Whether this bull is by Eck or by the pope, it is the sum of all impiety, blasphemy, ignorance, impudence, hypocrisy, lying – in a word, it is Satan and his Antichrist.

Where are you now, most excellent Charles the Emperor, kings, and Christian princes? You were baptized into the name of Christ, and can you suffer these Tartar voices of Antichrist? Where are you, bishops? Where, doctors? Where are you who confess Christ? Woe to all who live in these times.  The wrath of God is coming upon the papists, the enemies Of the cross of Christ, that all men should resist them. You then, Leo X, you cardinals and the rest of you at Rome, I tell you to your faces: “If this bull has come out in your name, then I will use the power which has been given me in baptism whereby I became a son of God and co-heir with Christ, established upon the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I call upon you to renounce your diabolical blasphemy and audacious impiety, and, if you will not, we shall all hold your seat as possessed and oppressed by Satan, the damned seat of Antichrist; in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you persecute. But my zeal carries me away. I am not yet persuaded that the bull is by the pope but rather by that apostle of impiety, John Eck….

If anyone despises my fraternal warning, I am free from his blood in the last judgment. It is better that I should die a thousand times than that I should retract one syllable of the condemned articles. And as they excommunicated me for the sacrilege of heresy, so I excommunicate them in the name of the sacred truth of God. Christ will judge whose excommunication will stand. Amen.

"If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?"

Convicting words…

To rule is to be in the midst of our enemies. There they find their mission, their work. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?

-Luther, quoted by Bonhoeffer in Life Together

Some good $0.99 ebooks on Amazon…

…although many of the below can be had for free in html or pdf format at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, an excellent resource.

Augustine: City of God and Christian Doctrine

Baxter: The Reformed Pastor

Baxter: Saints’ Everlasting Rest

Berkhof: Summary of Christian Doctrine

Chesterton: The Complete Father Brown Mysteries Collection

Chesterton: Orthodoxy (annotated)

Edwards: The Freedom of the Will

Edwards: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd

Edwards: Religious Affections

Hodge: Systematic Theology Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3

Kuyper: Lectures on Calvinism

Lewis: The Abolition of Man

Luther: Bondage of the Will

Machen: Christianity and Liberalism

Owen: Sermons

Rutherford: Lex Rex

Ryle: Holiness

Spurgeon: The Beatitudes

Warfield: Augustine and the Pelagian Controversy

Watson: Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Watson: The Doctrine of Repentance

Watson: The Godly Man’s Picture

Good books for nothing…

51x+ZB+3PLL._SL160_Looking around on the Amazon website for free stuff this morning, came across these free Kindle books. Not the best editions of these works out there…but at least you’ll have the text. If you don’t have a Kindle machine, you can use the Kindle app on many other devices…

Augustine: Confessions

Bunyan: The Pilgrim’s Progress

Bunyan: The Works of John Bunyan

Chesterton: What’s Wrong with the World?

Chesterton: Orthodoxy

Edwards: Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

Josephus: The Wars of the Jews; or the History of the Destruction of Jerusalem

Knox: First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women

Luther: Selections from the Table Talk of Martin Luther

Milton: Paradise Lost

Ryle: Practical Religion Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians

Ryle: Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield

 

Two posts by Tim Bayly that pastors and elders need to read and understand…

The need for pastors in our pulpits and session meetings…

Men don’t take responsibility for the souls God has placed under our care and we aren’t vigilant in protecting the honor of our offices because we don’t exercise our offices. Which is to say that our churches have no fathers. They have readers and debaters and curators and featherbedders and teachers, but no fathers.

Pastors and their sinecures…

Reformed pastors who make a show of laying garlands on the tombs of dead reformers while studiously avoiding any warning or condemnation in their sermons, any discipline in their session meetings, any specificity or authority in their counseling should be gagged so no one need ever again hear them give lip service to Luther or Calvin.

 

Reformation Sunday: The 95 Theses

Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences

(Commonly Known as the 95 Theses)

by Martin Luther

Posted October 31, 1517 on the Door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.

  1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence. Continue reading

Erasmus Winning the PCA

In the prefatory observations of his On The Freedom of the Will, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam makes a point of condemning men who make assertions. His scholarly open-mindedness and gentlemanly neutrality place him far above such petty dogmatism. He writes,

I prefer this disposition of mine to that with which I see some people endowed who are so uncontrollably attached to their own opinion that they cannot bear anything which dissents from it; but they twist whatever they read in the Scriptures into an assertion of an opinion which they have embraced once for all. They are like young men who love a girl so immoderately that they imagine they see their beloved wherever they turn, or a much better example, like two combatants who, in the heat of a quarrel, turn whatever is at hand into a missile, whether it be a jug or a dish. I ask you, what sort of sincere judgment can there be when people behave this way?

That from the man who made his living making assertions—assertions such as the following condemnation of those men and women finding Jesus Christ by freeing themselves from Roman Catholic heresy: “Who ever beheld in their meetings any one of them shedding tears, smiting his breast, or grieving for his sins? They have fled from Judaism that they may become Epicureans.”

Erasmus’s opponent, Martin Luther, was more honest. He knew he must make assertions, using words like swords, or concede the win to Erasmus and his sweetly-prefaced assertions. Perhaps Erasmus, seeing his opponent was a number of weight-classes heavier, was grasping for some advantage that might get him the win. If he couldn’t win the argument, he would win the argument about the arguments. Assertions like that of Luther—or of Paul, who desired that his Galatian opponents emasculate themselves (Gal. 5:12), or of Nehemiah, who cursed those who broke God’s laws (Neh. 13:25) or of Jesus, who called the Pharisees “sons of hell” (Matt. 23:15) and “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27)—are embarrassing, excessive, unsafe, unkind, unnecessary, unscholarly, and ungentlemanly.

What Erasmus tried to do—winning the battle by focusing on Luther’s rhetoric rather than on his argument—is de rigueur these days. Here’s a fine example of the PCA upperclassmen taking after Erasmus. And after your recover a bit, read David Bayly’s commentary, “What’s done in Atlanta stays in Atlanta….”.