Wednesday, August 01, 2012

After Darkness, Light!

Most people who visit this blog will know this information, but it is an excellent intro to Martin Luther. Historical introduction to Martin Luther -- R. C. Sproul recounts historical aspects of the beginning of Martin Luther's life and how he came to be an Augustinian monk.

"After Darkness, Light!"  - from the Latin phrase, "Post Tenebras Lux"  (On the Reformation Wall in Geneva)

What was the "Darkness" ?

The Roman Catholic teaching that had engulfed the whole European culture that salvation comes through the Sacerdotal (from the Latin word for "priest") system of dependence upon the Roman Catholic priest in the RC churches to dole out salvation through infant baptismal regeneration by the ex opere operato words of the priest, deeds of penances that were ordered by the priest such as saying 100 hail Mary's or climbing up the steps of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome or giving alms to the poor, confession to the priest, partaking of the eucharist, thinking it to be changed into the literal blood and body of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the mere words spoken by the priest, etc.   Those were truly "Dark Ages" (beginning around 430 - 500 AD) until the Reformation, beginning in 1517 when Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg.
[scholars usually date the beginning of the "Dark Ages" as when the Goths and Vandals and other "barbarian tribes" conquered the city of Rome and N. Africa around 400-430 AD.
The Reformation brought light back in by pointing people back to the Scriptures as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

Interesting tidbit about Jan Hus' trial and burning at the stake and his statement, that has become a popular story: Hus is reported to have said: "You may burn this goose (Hus in the Czech language means "goose") but after me will come a swan who you will not be able to silence."  And, according to Sproul, that under the very place where Luther was consecrated into the Augustinian order of monks, was the tomb of the bishop who ordered Hus' execution in 1415!
Addendum: James Swan blogged about that in 2010 here also. I should have known he would have researched it thoroughly before I pushed the publish button here! It was unclear to me if the sources are saying that Hus didn't say that at all; or that it was later exaggerated at Luther's funeral and afterward; but after I went back and read more carefully, it seems that Luther conflated 2 statements into one, one from Hus and the other from Jerome of Prague.
I had heard or read about this story before, I am pretty sure from listening to Sproul years ago; and it makes for a good story, but James Swan is to be commended for his historical research on Luther. It is still true that Hus was condemned for opposing some of the same traditions, un-biblical practices, and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church that Luther later opposed.

HT: Justin Taylor - Sproul on Luther and the Reformation ___ Note: this article went through several changes after I first hit the publish button; so I apologize for anyone who read it right after I posted it; for the inaccuracies at the beginning.


Brigitte said...

I tried to watch this through, but there was just nothing profound in it. Only, there were two things in it which I thought would make Luther turn in his grave (as far as I watched). 1. For him to be on a wall together with Zwingli as ONE of the reformers. 2. Stressing Luther's use of his studies in jurisprudence towards his career. Ahem, it was Luther who was the Bible scholar and it was Calvin who was the lawyer.

Ken said...

It was a very general introduction and simple, good for anyone who doesn't know much yet; so you are right, not really profound or deep, except I like the "After Darkness, Light!" intro.

And James Swan's article on Hus and "cooking this goose" provides accuracy and should stop the "historical embellishment". Ironic that Sproul would add that about "over my dead body" !!

I tried to find pictures of Luther and Zwingli and Melancthon on the "Reformation Wall" in Geneva, but can only find (on the web) the famous statues of Ferrell, Calvin, Beza, and Knox.

There is one article I found that says that they (statues of Luther, Melancthon, and Zwingli) are smaller and off to the side, but I couldn't find the actual images of them.

Ken said...

I don't think Sproul was saying Luther was more of a lawyer than Calvin, just that Luther did learn by his studies in law that "the soul that sins, it shall die" (from Ezekiel) and that he felt guilty over the seriousness of that until his breakthrough on justification by faith alone.

Brigitte said...

There is a lot of speculation about Luther's conviction of sin usually beginning with his childhood. But really I don't think it was the legal studies that did it. Nor did the problem lie with confession and absolution (as I feel may be implied in this segment. Luther always treasured confession and absolution to his dying day. Desiring it is what he called simply being Christian.) Do we not all have this conviction of sin which drives us to Christ, those of us who believe in him? Is this not where God starts with us? Luther out-monked them all and found that he was still a damned monk in monastery. So should we all despair of our own efforts.

PeaceByJesus said...

Sacerdotalism - that is it.

Rome teaches salvation by grace thru merit achieved via her complicated sacramental system, and which effectually fosters faith in the self-proclaimed power of the church to gain entrance into Heaven for even the most nominal (Ted Kennedy types included).

As they (typically) became children of God thru being sprinkled as babies on proxy faith, they typically never hear Catholic preaching which convicts them as being lost sinners, damned because of their works and destitute of any merit by which they may escape their just and eternal punishment and gain eternal life, and thus must look toward the risen the Lord Jesus to save them by His sinless shed blood.