OCTOBER 18, 2017
Joke of the Week
A Scotsman who was driving home one night, ran into a car driven by an Englishman. The Scotsman got out of the car to apologize and offered the Englishman a drink from a bottle of whisky. The Englishman was glad to have a drink. “Go on,” said the Scot, “have another drink.” The Englishman drank gratefully. “But don’t you want one, too?” he asked the Scotsman. “Perhaps,” replied the Scotsman, “after the police have gone.”
News of the Week: 2 Surprises
Here are two news items that may surprise you
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a very conservative man, both politically and morally, has sent an attorney from the Justice Department to Iowa to assist local prosecutors in the trial of a man who is accused of murdering a transgender individual. On the one hand, he earlier dropped policies that classified transgender people as a protected class; on the other hand, he is determined to see hate crimes prosecuted vigorously.
- Governor Jerry Brown of California, Democrat, vetoed a bill passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature that would have required churches, other religious organizations to not refuse to hire someone who did not hold their convictions on sexuality. The bill made absolutely no exceptions: crisis pregnancy centers would not have been able to refuse to hire a pro-choice person.
The lesson for me is threefold:
- People sometimes have stereotypes that just ain’t so. Liberals think Sessions hates gays and transgender people. Conservatives think that Jerry Brown (aka “Governor Moonbeam”) is a standard California progressive. I hope both liberals and conservatives examine their stereotypes.
- People are complex, both Christians and non-Christians.
- God answers prayer. I imagine many Christian Californians were hoping against hope for a gubernatorial veto, and praying to that end. Humanly speaking, positive result looked unlikely–but God is in control and he answers his people’s prayers.
It’s still on sale (but only for 2 more weeks)!
I have been serializing Saluda Press’s newest book, Luther’s 95 Theses for 21st Century Christians for several months while waiting for it to published. Well, the book has arrived from the printer and I am pleased to offer it for sale for the sale price of $6.99 plus shipping during the month of October, a saving of $3.00. On October 31 we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing the 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, an event that proved to be the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Do you know the content of the 95 theses? We know their historical significance, but do they have any importance for us today?
I wrote this book because upon reading the 95 theses I found that the most important issues Luther dealt with are with us today–Protestants as well as Catholics–in modern form. We ought to be informed and alarmed at the ways those issues have persisted all the way to the present. Buy this book and find out how the true gospel was obscured in Luther’s day and how it is distorted in similar ways in our time. Go to the top of the page and click on Buying My Books to purchase a copy.
Note: Amazon and PayPal will charge you the full price, $9.95 plus shipping, but during October I will refund you $3.00 when I send the book. If you purchase through Amazon, type Rogland Luther in the search line. There are many books on the 95 theses and mine is hard to find (it is on the fifth page or so of Amazon’s listings). By typing Rogland Luther you will be taken directly to the book. For those of you who are content to read the book free online, we continue with our study below.
Luther’s 95 Theses for 21st Century Christians
- It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
- A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them—at least it furnishes occasion for hating them
Belief that indulgences wipe away all guilt and penalty is bound to induce people to disregard the need for heartfelt sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. People may not trust in indulgences today, but they believe God is indulgent by nature. He will always forgive, the impenitent as well as the penitent.
This attitude is widespread in our time, but it is not new. This attitude is widespread in our time, but it is not new. Paul saw it in his fellow Jews:
Do you presume on the riches of [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4
Omar Khayamm, an eleventh-century Persian poet, said of God:
Folks of a surly Master tell,
And daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell;
They talk of some sharp Trial of us—
He’s a Good Fellow, and ‘twill all be well.
The nineteenth-century German poet Heinrich Heine is reputed to have said on his deathbed, “Of course God will forgive me. It’s his job.” Men and women have presumed on God’s forgiveness without indulgences; indulgences only add to presumption. Yet Scripture teaches clearly that we need to repent and believe.
Perhaps some believe God will forgive them without repentance because Christ prayed for those who crucified him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Of course, those who believe this know exactly what they are doing: they are living a sinful life, assuming he’ll always say, ‘I forgive’.” They deceive themselves. Let us not make the same mistake!
As to the contrite Christian seeking and loving to pay penalties for his or her sin (Thesis 40), those who grieve over their sins submit willingly to the rod in order to be sanctified in this life. They are glad to bear fruits in keeping with repentance. Few churches today, other than the Catholic Church, require specific behaviors as signs of true repentance before church discipline is removed. Insofar as such acts are viewed as necessary for priestly absolution, they are ill conceived and of no effect. But as acts meant to demonstrate a repentant spirit, they are a good thing.