Monday, October 28, 2013

Martin Luther

Okay Martin Luther is awesome!  He lived in the late 1400s to mid 1500s.  He was going to study the law but after a near death experience he promised his life to God.  He made good on this promise by becoming a monk.  He later became a Catholic priest and a professor of theology.

During that time in history many leaders of the Roman Catholic Church had become corrupt.  They taught the people to worship relics, supposed bones of the saints and items that the saints may have owned.  They said the people could save themselves and their forebears from a thousand or so years of purgatory (punishment in hell) by paying to see or touch these relics.  These were called indulgences.  Using the money acquired by this means to fund themselves and the building of overly expensive edifices, they both drove the church into debt and left undone caring for the poor.  They kept their members in ignorance, neglecting to make available the Bible for all to read.  They interpreted scripture for them teaching the people to do what is right and pay indulgences based on a fear of burning in hell if they didn’t. 

Everyone was doing it.  Everyone followed along, just believing what these church leaders were telling them.  Yet the poor were suffering while the leaders of the church lived in kingly wealth (2 Ne 28:13). 

Johann Tetzel selling indulgences
Then Martin Luther came along.  He saw all this and questioned it.  It was wrong.  He felt it.   And he couldn’t go along with it even if the whole world was.  But he struggled within himself at first.  Was he the one who was off?  Surely the pope and all the holy men that served with him didn’t know about what people like Johann Tetzel, one of the main indulgence salesmen, were doing.  Martin had been taught to never question their authority.

He tried to humble himself, look for the good, and honor the leaders of the church.  But changing his heart wasn't the answer.  He couldn’t keep going through the motions and feeling a sense that this was not right.  He couldn’t stand around watching the poor getting poorer and the church taking more and more from them.  So he took a stand. 

He did that by teaching and writing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its simple form.  He taught that we should do what’s right motivated by the love of God and of our fellowmen, not fear of hellfire.  In his writings he spoke out against specific individuals in the catholic church.  Of particular note was his Ninety-Five Theses that he posted on the doors of the church in Wittenberg, Saxony, Germany.  In doing so he ended up offending the leaders.  And soon they began to persecute him and threaten his standing in the church as well as his life.  It was not an easy road for him to walk.  When they put him on trial for his writings, he knew his life was on the line.  This is what he said:

“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen”  (Brainy Quote).

I admire him!
See the movie
But I do have some things to say about hellfire.  God is love and we should be motivated to do the right thing out of love.  But if we just blow right past God and his teachings, purposely violating his laws over and over again, we may actually need hellfire as motivation to get our lives back on track.  And in that case the warning of hellfire is merciful because that’s exactly where we’ll end up if we blow people away in a movie theater, in an office building, in a military compound, or in a school.

Alpha is another word for beginning.  It’s when we’re still young.  It's when we can still feel the light of Christ in our hearts.  But it's also a time when we're just learning about everything.  This is when the best motivation to do what's right is LOVE, both receiving it and being taught to live it.

Omega is another word for end.  The end or result is a habitual state.  It’s when we seal ourselves into habits through repeated processes.  These habits can be good or they can be bad.  It’s in bad-habit-omega or our proximity to it that the warnings of hellfire might be greatly appreciated by the soul who will otherwise experience it habitually, eternally, and forever.

What made the hellfire warnings of the Roman Catholic Church leaders wrong is they were using them on a people who were in the Alpha stages.  And they were forcing these people to fund their Omega stages of inappropriate expenses. 

As members of a church, whatever church we belong to,  it is a privilege to donate to its sustenance and growth.  I have been grateful for the opportunity to donate of my own free will and to the degree I can to my church throughout my life.  I feel apart of something much bigger than myself.  I have evaluated the continuous blessings I’ve received as a result of doing so:  Temporal and Spiritual Sustainability.  I have never been forced, manipulated, or cajoled into contributing.  I’ve been invited.  I've been taught why it's important.  It is a choice and a privilege.

Elder David A. Bednar
These sacred funds are used in a rapidly growing church to spiritually bless individuals and families by constructing and maintaining temples and houses of worship, supporting missionary work, translating and publishing scriptures, fostering family history research, funding schools and religious education, and accomplishing many other Church purposes as directed by the Lord’s ordained servants” (Elder David A. Bendnar: "Windows of Heaven").

My donation also goes toward humanitarian aid both in our local community and worldwide.  See what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing around the world: LDS Charities and here:

So giving tithing or other support to churches who then turn around and use it to help those in need is not a bad thing.  I don’t think Martin Luther would think so either.  The bone he had to pick was forcing the very ones who needed the aid to give of their meager substance to support those who were using the funds for unholy purposes.  Alpha forced to support Omega when Omega should be supporting Alpha.

I love men who take a stand for what they know is right in their hearts even at the risk of their own life Martin Luther was one of these men!

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