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The Eckercism of Martin Luther
Every October 31st, while much of the western world dresses up in ghoulish costumes, many Christians commemorate another important event that happened on October 31st, 1517. This was the day Roman Catholic monk, Martin Luther is traditionally said to have posted his 95 Theses (or 95 points of protest) on a church door in Wittenberg Germany. This would be considered the spark that led to the Protestant Reformation.
During his various disputes with the Roman Catholic Church, Luther debated against a man named Johann Maier von Eck in 1521 at Worms Germany. Eck's infamous question to Luther was:
Now, the premise of the question isn't necessarily wrong, especially if we believe that God sustains not only His Word but the basic understanding of His Word by His new covenant people. Eck's question should not be flippantly dismissed...not even by Protestant/Reformed Christians.
Many of us like to quote Luther's response which in part was:
By this we assert our individual ability to oppose corruption and come to our own conclusions. However, Luther in his more developed writings would also appeal to what he referred to as the "ancient faith".
What is this ancient faith if not the faith once and for all handed down to the saints and reflected and evidenced in the united interpretation of Scripture. Again, Eck's question wasn't wrong, nor was Luther's response that popes and councils can be shown to error. However, one thing that has been a chasm between not only the Roman Catholic and the Reformed, but also between the Greek Orthodox and the Reformed, is this mentality that there has been no sustained guidance by God among believers as to what has been believed and taught in the Church.
Until we Reformed/Protestant/Evangelicals begin to accept and understand that indeed God has sustained the united understanding of basic doctrine; we will be woefully the target of cults and con men who come along claiming they have "Eureka!" found something never seen before in Scripture.
Luther and the Reformers were NOT teaching new doctrine. It would have been all the more powerful for Luther to have highlighted that his interpretation of Scripture is in accord with the united and basic interpretation of those "so many famous men" or rather the bulk of theologians that had come before him. His interpretation of Scripture was not his own. He was not an innovator but a sustainer of the united Christian interpretations and that it was many of the popes and councils who not only "erred" but left that united interpretation for their novel interpretations.
The main indictment against such things as Papal infallibility is the fact that so many popes have contradicted one another on key points.
It is wrong for we Protestant/Reformed Christians to act like interpretation is an individualistic thing; that it is just me and my Bible and to heck with all of the rest of Christianity.
I'm working toward a motto of, a life of "Conformed and always Conforming"...not to religionism or "mother Papal church" as some accuse me, but rather as the Bible says "conformed to the image" of Christ. (Rom 8:29, 12:2) And to follow the "traditions", not merely of men but of the men Jesus hand-picked for us to learn our "traditions" from. (2 Thes 2:15)
Now, one last note not so serious. See the picture with this article? That is actually what is called a "death mask". It was common to make a plaster mold of a famous person after they died so as to keep their exact profile available for future generations. What you see there is the death mask mold of Luther's head and hands. Yeah, weird eh?
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