Some conversational questions on a very famous bit of German

Ok that 1989 joke was a bit coarse, but there is a long legacy of rough German humour – which brings us to Martin Luther 😉

We passed through Worms the other day and went to see Brother Martin who is standing around in Luther Platz.

My German is rubbish but here is a rather famous bit below that needs no translation.

Yes there is debate whether Luther actually said these words in his courageous speech before Emperor Charles V, but I like to think he did. And as this little piece points out well, the precise words are not the point.

What inspired so many Christians then and ever since, is Luther’s high view of the authority, truthfulness and reliability of Scripture revealing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And this message is so overwhelmingly GOOD and of universal significance that it calls all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour to shape their lives around him.  And that can lead, as it did for Luther, to all sorts of radical consequences.

So some challenging questions came to mind as I stood in front of Brother Martin.

Alister McGrath wrote an excellent book a while ago called A Passion for Truth: the intellectual coherence of evangelicalism.

That phrase, ‘Passion for Truth’ captures Luther, and McGrath rightly identifies it as a defining characteristic of authentic evangelical Christianity.

So, in Luther Platz in Worms, I asked myself ‘How is my passion for [God’s] truth?’

Allow me a bit of personal story here: I committed my life to Jesus back when I was a teenager. The Good News of the Gospel grabbed me as the most astonishing and important thing I’d ever heard.

Later, I responded to a challenge at a Christian conference of what was I going to do with my life? With the encouragement of my home church and others, I went off to theological college and have been in Christian ministry for over 20 years, the last 15 or so having the privilege and responsibility of teaching the Bible and theology to students – a job I love.

I’m deeply involved in local church life, being an elder in this great wee church community.

So, at one level, if I haven’t any ‘passion for God’s truth’ I should give up my job and resign from local church leadership. (I haven’t because I still have that deep down conviction that the Gospel is the best and most important news that can be heard – but I’d like to come back to this is a follow up post).

But this goes for all Christians really, not just those in employed ministry. Does this sound simplistic? – the Gospel story of Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and living Lordship is either true or it isn’t. Either a Christian ‘stands’ for that story and can do no other, or he/she does not. For if Jesus is the risen Lord around whom all of history revolves then everything changes.

Now all of this is not at all to say that faith is obvious or simple, or that there is no room for doubts, questions, struggles and fears. I have had (and have) plenty. But rather than leading with them, I’d like to open up for conversation the things that can and do ‘dull’ a Christian ‘passion for truth’ and the things that can and do restore and refresh it.

So I’d love to hear what you say on this – esp if you tend to be a reader and not a commentor:

What are some ‘passion killers’ that you’ve experienced in the Christian life?

And what are some  ‘passion kindlers’ – things that have restored your enthusiasm and joy in the Lord?


8 thoughts on “Some conversational questions on a very famous bit of German

  1. I have found fellow Christians to be both the biggest passion killers and the biggest passion kindlers!

  2. And I’d have to put cynicism as the greatest ‘passion killer’
    With, for me, fresh, well applied Bible exposition, whether written or spoken, worked out in a community of faith as one of the greatest passion rekindlers….

  3. […] in the New Testament, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday."Eugene Cho on sabbatical. An Irish thinker reflects on Luther's famous lines.Working mom calling with April.I thought the NIV would not raise ire like this: “Southern […]

  4. Debo, important question. By cynicism I’m thinking of its modern sense: a corrosive and ultimately destructive attitude in the sense of thinking the worst of others; of falling into the trap of self-righteous judgement of others; of being closely linked to distrust, a lack of faith in the redemptive power of God to change things for the better. It’s also close to arrogance and being unteachable – the cynic looks down on others on a self-erected pedestal. It’s unattractive and lacks compassion, grace and, most of all, love.

    I suggest it is the greatest passion killer because it corrodes faith, hardens the heart and destroys relationships. It is an attitude antithetical I believe to the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life. A cynic won’t tend to weep and pray and care and serve others sacrificially – so cynicism also eats away at a life of discipleship. It puts the self before others.

    It is especially damaging in leadership because it does not inspire or model Christ-likeness. If there is one thing Jesus was not, is a cynic in this modern sense (and this is a totally different issue to the proposal of people like Ben Witherington that Jesus was a sort of cynic sage of the Ancient world).

    I’m prone to it myself – and nothing has killed off my passion for Christian faith faster or more effectively. The antidote? Essential Christian things like humility, repentance, love, forgiveness, compassion, grace, listening, and obedience.

    Obedience in the sense of following these sorts of commands:
    Philippians 2:3 “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”

    Philippians 4:8-9 connects peace with disciplined Christian ‘positive thinking’ – the opposite of negative cynical thinking that brings no peace..
    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

    Sermon over!

  5. Thanks for clarifying 🙂 From this description, I’d wager that cynicism is probably my most frequently-practised sin!

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