Faith Perspectives – November 1, 2017

Faith Perspectives – November 1, 2017

By Rev. John Campbell, United Presbyterian, Oakdale

As this column comes out it is All Saints Day for the Church.

A day to remember the saints that have gone on before us to glory.

The origin of this day came about as the early church remembered those who were martyred for their faith by the Roman empire.

Yesterday a saint was remembered, Martin Luther, who by his actions brought about the Protestant Reformation.

Luther, an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg when he posted a notice for a debate of practices that he saw as incorrect.

His “95 Theses,” or sentences in Latin, were protesting the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance, or indulgences (release from the temporal penalties for sin through the payment of money) for the purpose of raising money for the building of Saint Peter’s in Rome.

Contrary to popular perceptions, Luther did not nail this list to the church door in anger. He was not trying to divide the Church.

As Luther and other reformers studied the scriptures, they found themselves at odds with various practices and teachings of the church.

The thing is, these issues are about God. They are about truth.

They are too important to gloss over, because truth is actually more important than the superficial appearance of unity.

Luther intended to participate in a conversation about reforming errors that were harming the Catholic Church. That is because he wanted to point out where individuals were going wrong by failing to submit themselves to the authority of scripture.

‘Sola Scriptura’ (by Scripture alone) was one of the watchwords of the Reformation. This doctrine maintains that Scripture, as contained in the Bible, is the only authority for the Christian in matters of faith, life and conduct.

There is no infallible denomination or church.

The teachings and traditions of the church are to be completely subordinate to the Scriptures. To see this doctrine as meaning an individual with his Bible alone as sufficient is contrary to Luther’s beliefs.

He taught that the traditions of the Church had to be evaluated and come under the judgment of the Word of God.

Luther’s historical legacy is not about individualism. It’s about the supremacy of God’s word over the individual. There is no infallible interpreter of Scripture, nor is there a need for one.

There is no infallible denomination or church.

Even after receiving Christ as Savior, we are all still tainted by sin.

We all make mistakes.

No denomination/ church has absolutely perfect doctrine on every issue.

There is just one Church with many expressions. Believers in Christ Jesus are called to work with each other, to listen and be willing to talk about their differences in an atmosphere of love and cooperation.

As one has said: ‘Let the 500th anniversary of the Reformation be not a celebration of our historical and doctrinal divisions but a celebration of our dialogue even within our differences, of our unity, our mutual respect and love for each other. In this way, we can say we are collaborators in the work of the Lord who is always and ever making all things new’.