Greetings from the land of Saguaros and Scorpions. Sometimes I am simply amazed at, in MY perception, how tunnel visioned we as a group of people can be.
Here at Palo Verde we have been doing our 120 Days through the Bible. Last night in my Bible class we reviewed the reading since Sunday (Joshua 1-Judges 10). As we have gone through and read this material in God's word I have once again been struck by two significant facts that seeming smack us up side the head:
1) Yahweh is incredibly gracious, long suffering and merciful
2) God's People are incredibly rebellious, blind, disobedient, reach incredible LOWS ... it is hard to conceive of a LOWER point than in some of Judges. And yet though full of sin and apostasy they remain God's People.
Surely if that which was written before was for our learning we can learn something about the way God relates to his people. He calls them to a very HIGH ideal and deals with them with incredible long suffering and mercy.
Further when we look at the leaders of God's People from Joshua to Samson the quality seems fairly low (Joshua clearly being the best of the bunch but then there was the Gibeonite episode). If Samson showed up on my door step to ask my daughter out I'd call the cops!!! Yet the Lord of Grace did in fact use them and blessed their feeble efforts.
Now when I move from the history of God's people within Scripture to that of "profane" history and I see men like Martin Luther and ask myself how he would compare to Jepthah or Samson. Clearly he was mistaken (like Joshua whose mistake cost the ENTIRE people!) on stuff. Even important stuff. Yet I wonder if God changed how he looked at human beings from the time of Samson to Martin Luther? One wonders if Luther would have been satisfied with just one night of dew on the ground and a dry cloth? Or if Luther would have visited prostitutes before bringing a visitation to the Philistines? I am just wondering "out loud?" Are Luther's sins greater than those recorded in Judges when "every man did what was right in his own eyes." I wonder if the grace Samson found was denied to Luther?
Interestingly enough it is only in fairly recent times that restoration Christians decided that Luther was not much better than a pagan. Alexander Campbell could chastize those who CLAIMED the epitaph "Protestant" as traitors to Luther,
"O for another Luther, to lash the popery of false Protestants, who prefer implicit surrender of their own judgment to the decision of ... pretenders to divine wisdom ...
In his debate with Rice, Campbell extolled his gratitude and respect not only on Martin Luther and John Calvin but their predecessors. Specifically of Luther and Calvin he says these astonishing words about Luther and Calvin. They,
"were God's chosen vessels to accomplish at the proper time a mighty moral revolution, whose might, sway and extended empire over the human mind and destinies of the world, have not yet been fully appreciated." (Campbell-Rice Debate, p. 587).
Those are interesting words. Now Campbell, someone will say was not inspired and I agree. His opinion matters for nothing right!!! However I think Campbell recognized something quite significant ... perfection of either understanding or practice is not what makes one a part of the family of God or makes a people the People of God. Could it be that Luther was in fact truly a disciple. That term is used to describe the "Way" that is the people of Jesus in the NT more than any other term (by a long way). It neither implies "arrivedness" or "perfection" ... rather the term implies the people of God are sophmoric and imperfect ... always learning and growing.
Thus I think Luther was in fact a disciple of Christ. How Luther's errors are worse than Israel's I fail to be able to discern ... but that is just me. Lord, we pray thee, to have mercy on our arrogance and our inability to even perceive YOUR work in the cracked pot Martin Luther.