Oct. 31, 2012
Last Friday, on the Values Bus, I heard Bishop Harry Jackson preach a powerful message to the young Christians at the Prayer Furnace in Fredericksburg,Virginia. They and I responded with enthusiasm to this impassioned leaders call to vote vertical, to use our Christian citizenship to bring real hope and change. Bishop Jacksons text was from Psalm 68: May God arise, may His enemies be scattered.
The following Sunday, I attended another service. At St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Annapolis, our pastor, resplendent in bright red, preached his sermon in honor of Reformation Day (October 31st). It was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Door.
In those theological propositions, the young Saxon monk challenged the practice of granting indulgences. The priest Tetzel was traveling through Germany at that time, telling faithful Christians they could buy the souls of their dear departed family members out of torment in Purgatory if they would pay money. When the coin in the coffer rings, another soul from Purgatory springs, was Tetzels message.
Young Martin Luther held a doctorate in theology at a time when such learning was rarer than Nobel Prizes are today. He denounced the practice of selling indulgences. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Protestant Reformation dates from this fateful act.
Today, some 495 years after those hammer blows, we see Catholics, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Christians of all denominations, rallying against new and grave threats. Around the world, Christians are being martyred by jihadists bent on establishing the Umma, the world rule of Islam under Sharia law.
As Christians, we cannot allow our sincere theological differences to stop us from praying for our endangered brethren. We should demand protection of these threatened Christians. I do not know, for example, if the Christians in Northern Nigeria are Protestants or Catholics. I only know they are being murdered daily by the brutal Boko Haram violent Islamist sect. The Copts of Egypt are neither Protestant nor Catholic. Their faith is closer to Orthodox Christianity. But that doesnt matter to the Muslim Brotherhood that is trying to kill them or drive them away.
As Christian citizens in America, we have every right to demand that the Obama administration stop paying off the Muslim Brotherhood-installed regime in Cairo. Sec. Clinton recently signed off on another $1,300,000,000 for this Egyptian ruling party. For the sake of Christian Solidarity, we must speak out for the victims. Their blood cries out.
We can also band together to protect each others religious freedom in America. One constant theme on the Values Bus is the fact that the HHS Mandate of last year is the gravest threat to religious liberty in 226 years in this country. President Obamas Sec. of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was the most pro-abortion governor in U.S. history. No wonder she understands nothing of the convictions that unite us.
When my newborn granddaughters last December were raced back into St. Marys Hospital, in danger of their lives, the good people there did not ask if the twins were Catholic. They only asked: How can we help? Thats why I speak up for the religious liberty of my fellow Americans who are Catholic.
Theres another Martin Luther story I love to relate on Reformation Day. Luther was hiding from the Emperor in the Wartburg Castle. He was translating the New Testament into German so his people could read Gods Word. Legend has it the Devil came to him in his garret to tempt him to despair. Dr. Luther held firm in the Word and threw his inkpot at Satan!
Visitors to Germanys Wartburg Castle can see the ink spot on the castle wall to this day. Gottes wort bleibt in ewigkeit, (Gods Word will stand forever) said Luther, quoting Scripture. (Sometimes I think thats what Im doing: Throwing my inkpot at them!)
So here are some words from Martin Luthers pen for us to take with us through this next tumultuous week. When religious freedom here and abroad are in danger, its best to remember these lines:
Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpowr us.
This worlds prince may still
Scowl fierce as his will,
He can harm us none,
Hes judged; the deed is done.
One little Word can fell him.