March 21, 2017

THE END OF AUTHORITY:

Five centuries on, Martin Luther should be feted as hero of liberty and free speech : The story of the German reformer who challenged the Catholic church has resonance today (Peter Stanford, 18 March 2017, The Guardian)

[T]he consequences of Luther's rebellion were not confined to a particular period, to Germany, or even to organised religion. His essential message was that, at the end of his or her life, each believer stood naked before God, awaiting eternal judgment, with only the Bible and their faith to protect them. The "good works" that Catholicism encouraged - earning brownie points by going to mass, making pilgrimages, praying to relics and contributing to the church coffers - were irrelevant in salvation.

He was thus challenging the entire late medieval way of doing things and the result was strikingly modern. For Luther championed conscience, informed by reading the scriptures, over the dictates of church rules and regulations. Read scripture and make your own mind up. This, in its turn, opened the door in the 17th and 18th centuries to Enlightenment notions of human liberty, free speech and even human rights, all of which today shape Europe. Our ability to read the word of God and reject it out of hand comes from Luther - an outcome he could not have foreseen and which would surely horrify him.

But if that sounds too abstract, there is one final aspect of Martin Luther that gives him a relevance and a three-dimensional appeal. For sheer, selfless courage, he is impossible to outdo. He may now be recalled, if at all, as a jowly friar from history, but for a thousand years before Luther came along, the Catholic church had been one of the great powers on earth, so powerful it even fixed the calendar the world still uses, taking as its pivot the birth of Jesus Christ. Until Martin Luther.

He had the courage to take on a monolithic church, in the full expectation that it would cost him his life, but he did it nonetheless, confronting the might of the first truly universal religion, in person and often alone, with an extraordinary passion, intensity and energy. And, most remarkable of all, not only did Luther survive, he triumphed, and we are all better off because of him.

What's not to celebrate?

A god worshiped simply because He is God is not worthy of worship.
Posted by at March 21, 2017 5:01 AM

  

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