Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Comfort Is Not The Issue

Last night (look below this post on my blog) I posted a video link to the movie "Luther."  Now, I'm fully aware we cannot rely on the movie "Luther" as history.  Nonetheless, much of it does catch what happens when feeling meets the truth of scripture.  Here is a dialog from the Luther movie, about 53 minutes from the beginning.  Martin Luther is standing (when he should have been kneeling) before Pope Leo, arguing the truth of scripture against the "comfort" found in what, in those days, seemed to give comfort--an "infallible" church led by an infallible papacy. Girolamo Aleandro is listening from behind a door.
  • Luther: The honor of the papacy is not preserved by the naked assertion of papal authority, but by safeguarding the pope's credibility and the clear testimonies of divine scripture.
  • Leo: The pope interprets scripture.
  • Luther: He may interpret it.  But he is not above it.
  • Alendro (angrily whispering): He was to say one word!
  • Luther: We both know the selling of indulgences has no scriptural support.  If common people could read the Bible for themselves they would understand just how broad the church's interpretations are.
  • Leo: That is outrageous!  The scriptures are too complex for even the average priest to understand, much less the common man.  Indulgences are an established tradition which give comfort to millions of simple Christians.  
  • Luther: Comfort!  Your grace, I'm not interested in comfort!  Comfort is not the issue!
  • Leo: So you consider your discomfort more important than the survival of Christianity?
  • Luther: I'm interested in the truth!
  • Leo: The truth? The Turks are building armies on our eastern borders! We are on the brink of war.  To the west lies a world of souls who have never heard the name of Christ!  That is the truth!  Christianity is tearing apart and just when we need unity most, you create confusion!
  • My goal is not to quarrel with the pope or the church, but to defend them with more than mere opinion!  The gospel cannot be denied for the word of man!
In recent conversations it has seemed to me that some of our local church members, and also some pastors beyond our church, are using the same argument as Pope Leo.  Some say that those of us who are concerned about the ELCA's slide away from Biblical authority should just keep quiet or, as I heard stated at the special congregation meeting on June 23, find another church in which we can be more comfortable.  With the Martin Luther in the movie, I must say "Comfort is not the issue!"  The goal must be to defend the truth and comfort of the church with "more than mere opinion."  The truth cannot be denied for the word of man.


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