Lessons for us from Luther's World
God used Martin Luther, the zealous and often intense Augustinian monk, scholar, theologian, reformer, hymn writer, husband, and father. to change the trajectory of the Church, the Western World, and far beyond. Most of us know the man and teachings of Luther well. Gutenberg's Printing Press had a sovereign appointment to join with Luther at the hip and both aided the other. (Side note, if you do not, Eric Metaxas has a great biography out on Luther you can go find online which is a fantastic read). Over 500 years has passed since Martin Luther walked the earth first a monk and theologian and later as the Great Reformer who wrote the "95 Theses", or areas the Roman Catholic Church needed to address in terms of doctrinal corruption and later to defend at the Diet of Worms, risking life and limb. The Reformation re-introduced the pure Gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and with Church authority resting in Scripture alone, and all for the glory of God alone.
In the centuries that followed the Western World nations largely separated from Roman Catholic rule, embarked on colonial exploits, revolutions, world wars, industrialization, and technological advances, each with various levels of blessings and cursing for man and civilization. The 1980's seem like a long time ago in some senses to me with all the changes, let alone trying to imagine life in the 1500's. At a very high-level, let us stir the pot of food for thought; What did Luther's World look like? What forces were at work that he alone stood opposed to, both spiritual and temporal? " What upheaval came in the wake of the Reformation? Are there any similarities between that world and today as Believers?
What did Luther's World look like? Luther was born in the late 1400's, solidly in Medieval Times. Europe was Feudal with secular power controlled by the nobility and they owned all the land. The Church was the educated class and they controlled all things spiritual and could bestow and withhold blessings. The largest class which comprised over 90% of the population was the peasantry who a range of farmers to tradesmen but were poor and life was often short and difficult. Luther found himself, a zealous monk, confronted with an often-corrupt Vatican selling sin forgiveness as "indulgences" and accepting payment to get dead relatives out of Pergatory, which doesn't even exist in Scripture. Picture a monk seeing the dreary poor, giving what little money they had to Papal corruption, greed, and opulence. (The World Martin
What forces were at work that he stood opposed to? First and foremost, Paul admonishes us "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Galatians 6:12) Luther no doubt understood the real enemy of Christ and Believers was our Adversary, Satan, and that is made crystal clear in the lyrics to "A Mighty Fortress" (referenced below). He also recognized a primary temporal weapon the enemy was using at the time included some "rulers in high places" within the Church in Rome where the spiritual wickedness in high places was evident, real, and known to devout Believers. The Pope and the religious rulers wanted Luther to recant his theses, or corrections he recommended or be killed. It was only 100 years prior that Jan Huss bravely proclaimed the very same things about the Gospel, Scripture, and Salvation that we take for granted today but back then threatened Church and Secular power so he was condemned by the Roman Church and executed, burned at the stake. Huss' last words included the prophecy that God would rise a man up in a 100 years hence to proclaim the same true Gospel, a prophecy fulfilled by Martin Luther. Unlike today, the threat of criticizing the Church meant fairly swift and certain punishment as the Church was welded with the Nobililty in the seat of power and could wield the machinery of state violence at will.
What can we draw from these questions about Luther's day as we look at our own global landscape? One of the most destructive wars in European history was the Thirty Years War with an estimated 8 million dead or more and ran on for thirty years, 1618 - 1648. The German peasants paid a terrible cost as armies on both sides would pillage their towns for resources, food, and shelter. In a complex mix of motives, the crux of the "30 Years War" was throwing off Roman Catholic religious rule over Europe through Popes and their connected at the hip temporal ruler counterparts, the emperors and nobility. The modern secular nation-state and republic was birthed out of this bloody transition from Feudalism to Modernism and nations birthed out of separating from Roman Catholic rule by adopting "Protestant" Christianity and breaking the secular rule of the nobility. In a very maco view, our current world was created in the wake of the Reformation and the subsequent 30 Years War.
What can we draw from these questions about Luther's day as we look at our own global landscape? More than any time in the past 500 years, we look on the cusp of a very different global paradigm, especially in the West. The nation-state that emerged in Luther's wake looks under attack with its sovereignty questioned, finances depleted, debt rising, its power diluted and usurped by globalist forces and interests. Could our future look more like Luther's world than our own in that respect? Will a religious ruler emerge with great sway over the masses, consolidating moral and spiritual earthly power? Will he have a partner to consolidate earthly assets of land, gold, resources, along with owning all the guns, the military power? It seems to be consistent with the days leading up to the Day of the Lord in Scripture. The "Man of Perdition" will emerge at the appointed time with his partner in crime, the False Prophet with a great consolidation of power, a false imitation of Christ's rule to come in the earthly Kingdom.
What about religious rulers and an over-arching religion? We have a new religion in the West, called Humanism. To put a finer point on it, we can simply call it "Science". In Luther's day, one dare not question the Roman Church even with Scriptural arguments, reason, and facts as Luther said he stood on at the Diet of Worms and why he could not recant. Today we are told, irrespective of Scripture, logic, and reason we are to "trust the science", which really means trust the new priestly class in their white coats. You question them at great peril of being de-banked, de-employed, and pounded by Jacobin Twitter Users. You must recant, apologize on bended knee, for questioning the "science" when the priests tell us drugs are medicine, food and nutrition are not important, fat is as healthy as fit, even if they tell us they've redefined biology, so no longer do we have two sexes bur a continuum. It seems where Luther saw Popes and Nobles extracting money from the dying masses to fund their opulance, we see today the Elites flying their private jets while the masses are to be herded into "15 minute cities", for carbon reasons of course. The elites will eat steak, while the masses will consume bugs due to the severe carbon threat of cow farts. The elites will eat healthy and live long, while the masses are given nutritionless foods and drugs (medicinal and street) and die young.
What forces are we facing today? In Luther's day, in Paul's day, in our day: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Galatians 6:12). The form and fashion of these forces manifested on the earth change over the centuries, but we can recognize the same enemy is behind them all and we can detect patterns if we pay attention. We likely will face a modern version of Luther's world as we move forward with an oppression global secular power moving to consolidate land and resources, and an emerging religious power connected at their hip demanding fealty at all costs, no room for dissent, no room for Jesus Christ the Living Word, nor the Logos, the Written Word of Scripture, no room for minds functioning rationally and logically enlightened by the Holy Spirit, but with the unregenerate masses given over to strong delusion as they careen towards the Great Day of the Lord, culminating in His great vengeance and justice and in the elect's resurrection and al things put right, heaven and earth made new.
Luther was once asked what he would do today if he knew Christ was returning tomorrow. His response was, he would tend to his apple trees. Meaning, he will live every day as if Jesus was coming tomorrow. That is how we face into the wind, keeping our eyes on The Lord Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing the Father has us in His strong hand. Consider the Christ-centered, empowering, militant, the triumphant words of Luther's Hallmark Hymn:
A Mighty Fortress by Martin Luther
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.