It was in 1517 that Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses" to the big door of the church at Wittenburg, Germany. Ah, Luther, an early European Knight in the slaying of the dragon of Legalism.
This is often viewed as the beginning of what we call the Reformation. It was a giant blow against legalism, specifically the paying of money to the Roman Catholic Church for "indulgences" which were supposed to "buy off" years of purgatory. Purgatory is the Roman Catholic doctrine, totally unbiblical, that believers in Jesus Christ must undergo years of punishment for their own sins *after* death.
As awful as the legalistic doctrine is to begin with, even more awful was the teaching by church villains that one could buy their way into heaven faster (or that of Grandpa or Mom).
Thank God the light was shed on the great Gospel of Grace, showing that salvation is entirely of Grace, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9), and that we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are forgiven...past, present, and future, throught the sacrifice of our Lord.
Often I see Christians, including well-known teachers, prove their theological views by quoting some famous "great" Christian of the past. Their thought seems to be, "If Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, and [solemn hush here] Jonathan Edwards said it, that proves it's true!" I just picked those names out of a hat. If you're offended by my hint that those "divines" may make mistakes, you are making my point.
This is Theology By Guru. That's what the scribes did in Jesus' day. They quoted learned Rabbis and used that as their "text".
We shouldn't ignore teachers from past (or present for that matter), but they are not the authority. They may have valuable insights, but understanding the Word of God is spiritual, and every teaching of every teacher needs to be examined according to the Scripture, preferably as we're filled with the Spirit.
God is the authority, and when we hear His words, we may actually be astonished. Matthew 7:28,29 reads,
"And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
The Guru-ization of Christianity, in America at least, has dulled the blade of that astonishment. The "pure milk of the Word" re-sharpens that blade, and we can be astonished again.
There are no "great" Christians, just gifted ones who are sometimes right.
These were the reported words of 13-year-old Marian Fisher to the milk truck driver named Carl Roberts, who had entered the Amish schoolhouse a little over a week ago.
Emma Mae Zook, only twenty years of age herself, had already been the teacher for three years. She fled to call for help, along with some of the other students, mostly boys. Ten girls remained captive with the man we call "deranged". His intentions were not honorable.
Five of the girls died by his gun, before he "turned the gun on himself", as the all-too-frequent news report comment goes.
Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12; Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7; Mary Liz and Lena Miller, sisters 8 and 7 years old; Marian Fisher, the brave 13-year-old who understood sacrifice.
But if the sacrificial attitude of Marian touched the world, the attitude of her friends and family stunned them. The attitude was forgiveness. Of a magnitude that we don't see often, even in the "religious". Of a magnitude that didn't just forgive the murderer, but embraced the murderer's family.
What we learn from them, they learned from Jesus.
1. Simplicity 2. Sacrifice 3. Forgiveness 4. Community 5. Gelassenheit. This term they use means “surrenderedness” to God and to one another. “The goal of Gelassenheit is a subdued, humble person who discovers fulfillment in the community.” (Donald Kraybill, The Riddle of Amish Culture)
I haven't spoken favorably about the Amish view of Scripture. They have sometimes drastic tendencies toward legalism, and sometimes harsh dealings with their own in their "shunnings".
But I never stop being amazed at God's working through us flawed creatures. Even in a culture that I don't normally associate the word "Grace" with, there is God's Grace anyway, calling "Follow me, as I follow Christ."