Some follow up thoughts on Luther’s famous words:
Now I know there is a viper’s nest of hotly debated theological issues here, but I think it’s safe to say that Luther’s ‘standing’ was inseparable from an unshakable belief in a particular interpretation of the Bible’s narrative concerning Jesus Christ.
The Reformers’ emphasis on ‘Christ alone’, ‘Scripture alone’, ‘Faith alone’ and ‘Grace alone’ unpacked the content of that interpretation – one that of course differed radically with Medieval Catholicism at a number of critical points, especially the authority of the Church and the content of justification by faith.
I don’t go all the way with Luther at a number of places, nor would I necessarily agree that the ‘Solas’ adequately capture all of what the NT gospel concerning Jesus Christ actually is [not much kingdom of God or Holy Spirit to begin with]. But I am happy to embrace them as summarising core elements of biblical faith (and that’s why I’m also happy to be called an evangelical Christian although I don’t necessarily lead with that in polite dinner table conversation!).
So, after over 30 years a Christian, I still find myself believing and ‘standing’ for something like this [and please remember this is a quickly sketched blog post not a painstakingly crafted comprehensive statement of systematic theology – I’m sure what follows can be edited and re-written in many different ways – What bits might you want to add, delete or change?
That God, in Jesus Christ, annointed by the Holy Spirit, has done something truly astonishing; something so amazing that it is almost too good to believe. This gospel has such universal significance, it should cause those who believe it to worship God with all of their hearts, minds and lives.
That the Bible is our one true and inspired source of what God has done and why and we should seek to understand it, interpret it and obey it humbly, open to learn from the learning of other Christians both living and dead, keenly aware of our own limitations and cultural biases.
That God’s actions involved his divine Son becoming fully human and entering history; specifically the history of Israel as her Messiah. That his real humanity is deeply connected to his substitutionary mission as the Second Adam, to undo and redeem what Adam had done.
That this mission to Israel finds its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where sin, death and the Law are overcome by the victory of God, through the power of the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.
That this work of salvation is all of God and is a gracious gift of God and can only be accepted in faith and repentance and baptism.
That all – whether male or female, black or white, rich or poor, of whatever nationality or religion – who have faith in and commit their lives to following Jesus, share in this victory, and are given the Spirit to empower them for a life marked by the fruit of the Spirit within the new covenant community of God, the church.
That this present experience of the Spirit of God is tangible evidence of the future age of the kingdom to come in a redeemed new creation after the return of Jesus Chist as glorious judge, to bring justice and the Shalom of God to all things.
That in the perfect justice of God there will be no place in this new creation for all powers and forces and people opposed to the rule of the King and therefore there will be no more sin, injustice, famine, war, exploitation of the weak and vulnerable; no more funerals or tears or depression or doctors; no more pollution and environmental destruction; no more waste, no more cynicism and lies and half-truths; no more confusion and hopelessness and despair.
But God will be all in all.
Comments, as ever, are welcome.