By: Jonathan Harris
Normally, if I go for a jog I like to have some music playing through my earplugs to both make the exercise expedition seem shorter, and to motivate me. Today I did something a little different. I listened to a an audio recitation of Martin Luther's Here I Stand speech at the Diet of Worms. Eric Till's movie Luther, which recounts the events that lead up to the reformation including the Diet, does a great job in providing a pretty accurate visualization of Luther's speech, however, nothing does Luther justice like reading or hearing him in his own words. Although, the film does provide direct quotations from Luther's speech, it does not provide the full account of what transpired. In fact, the speech is somewhat chopped down to make it fit the film's time constraints (still I fully recommend picking up a copy of the movie; it's excellent!). However, Max McLean's recitation of Luther's words at the Diet contain every word of Luther's two speeches, the historical background surrounding the events that lead up to the Diet, and Luther's powerful and heart-felt prayer the day before his Here I Stand speech. There was no need for music. I had the motivation I needed, and the run seem to even go shorter. I truly do stand amazed, not only at the man's oratory skills, but also at his humility coupled with boldness. Here was a man who had little to go on but the Word of God, and go on it he did. Contrast his available resources with ours. I mean, really think about what his stand meant. He was forsaking the only acknowledged "Christian" church without the support of any academics. We with our commentaries, books, software, Christian radio, seminary-trained pastors, Christian television, Bible study tools, sermon podcasts, etc. are spoiled to the point of both taking it all for granted and not taking advantage of it at all. Luther had none of this save the Scripture.
writes, "The accusation that Martin Luther was an anti-Semite, responsible for massacres, reveals an ignorance of history. . . For decades he lovingly and patiently reached out to the Jewish people in his area with the Gospel." Hammond goes on to explain that Luther evangelized the Jews in his area for 15 years and denounced the Catholic mistreatment of them. It was after 15 years of evangelism that he wrote "On the Jews and Their Lies." To rip a statement out of this work and call it "antisemitic" is very misleading. Luther was a drastic man in the way he spoke, and he saved his worst words for heretics. The Jews were guilty of a great many blasphemies, and it was against these blasphemies that Luther wrote. In other words, it was a theological denouncement of the heretical Jewish religion, not a denouncement of their race or culture.
Peter Hammond concludes his article by asking:
Do those who so confidently condemn Martin Luther really believe, in the light of eternity, in the sight of God, that they have served God’s people and God’s cause and Kingdom with even 1% as much dedication and effectiveness as Martin Luther? If they do, it betrays an ignorance of history and a blindness to their own weaknesses.
So is it ok to celebrate Marin Luther? I think the answer is a resounding yes. We celebrate much more than him however. What we are really celebrating is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its preservation through a man just like you and me. Happy Reformation Day!
To order Luther the movie check out this link.