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Posts Tagged ‘reformation’

What is a strong-willed person? 

Some people are born strong-willed.  Others work into it.  We might think of them as leaders, independent-minded, strong-willed, or stubborn.  They do not go with the flow.  Usually we recognize them in rebellion. 

 

Let me draw a comparison.  The majority of people are driven by emotion and beliefs.  It has been said that facts are far less powerful than what people believe.  These people feel that the most important thing is being sincere.  Inconsistency means nothing.  Life is lived as though relative.  If they felt it at the time, they did it.  They can be impulsive.  I don’t mean they seem impulsive, but that they really are.  (Wisdom can appear impulsive; if someone has an alert comprehension of a situation and an inherent sense of right and wrong, he will confidently choose very quickly and act on that decision.)  If a person is always true to himself, he is able to be manipulated.  His decisions are thus the floating, sleepy subjective of “follow your heart” – almost animal. 

 

However, a different kind of person is always trying to match himself to an outside ideal, whether pragmatic or spiritual (at the altar of self, of parents, of a romantic interest, a hero, a political ideal, or of God). Sincerity is important; only he wants to sincerely be his ideal, and believes reformation of actions will cause the change.  He still has that impressionable emotional side, but is not capable of being manipulated.  His decisions are on facts, rules, and objective evidence.  Standards are set by what he worships. 

All humans are born not worshiping God.  Self might be worshiped, in which case decisions are whatever self wants to do.  Self will be glorified.  Pain and bribery are nothing if the condition is not what the self wills.  Particularly if subjecting to them would profane independence, the terms are not embraced.  Or the idol might be another person, or a book, or TV show. 

 

There are people who begin as the first type of person and are trained or converted into something else.  Subjective manipulation can birth idolatry of a particular thing, rendering the person anchored, and not blown about with emotion any more. 

 

Conversion can happen for a strong-willed person from one idol to another, but it is not a matter of manipulation.  This is caused by more information about the idols.  No amount of pressure effects a change of mind.  I venture to guess that these people are not easily lied-to, either.  They tend to have a comprehensive view of reality that discerns truth. 

 

So eventually a strong-willed person will discover the truth or die in the process.  Discovering the truth and accepting it are not the same thing.  Many strong-willed people live in determined rebellion against God.  They believe in Him, know what His purpose is, and are not pleased.  They have chosen to worship self, and will not be supplanted.  Like the demons, they believe the truth, shudder, but hate the truth all the same.  In fact it is impossible to fully hate what is unknown. 

 

God can convict even an independent person of their sin, and humble them.  He can also establish formerly unstable, wind-of-the-moment-driven people as His worshipers.  I don’t claim to know how He does it.  I do believe that only He can.  When a person is saved, his spirit is made alive, rendering the sinful nature dead with Jesus on the cross.  Then the will has the power, by dependence on the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ life through them, to choose righteousness.  A strong-willed person recognizes that worship is absolute.  When his worship is given to God, his choices are made to God’s standard. 

 

What he worships, he values supremely in a way that the first kind of person cannot understand.  A strong-willed person understands commitment, is a zealous person, and expects fidelity from others.  He sees priorities as life-statements, reflecting not only the preference of the minute, but the direction of the years.  Yet he understands repentance, because it is a complete turnaround, a replacement of allegiance.  Repentance is not simply the recognition that a particular action is no longer popular or pleasant. 

 

A strong-willed person is not emotionless.  He feels just as deeply, and must reckon with the emotions.  But he cannot let them control him if they contradict his convictions.  This can be simpler, but not easier.  Some strong-willed people, when faced with intense emotional situations, feel torn in two. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

PS: Remember.  These are confessions of a strong-willed person.  My conclusions might be a little biased.  The object remains to aid communication between stronger and lesser wills.  Let me know what you think. 

 

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The evangelical community is not split fifty-fifty whether to celebrate Reformation Day or some form of Halloween or substitute still involving candy and costumes. But there are a lot of Christians who spend October 31 celebrating Luther’s 95 Theses being nailed to the door of his church – and the reformation it helped to establish. My family has traditionally pretended this day does not exist. Like fourth of July in India, it meant nothing. This is because my principled parents were raised to celebrate Halloween but didn’t want to teach their kids to do the same. They were never exposed to reformation celebration.

In fact, my life has been rather lacking in following the history of my faith. Personally, my faith history is being raised in church and at home taught about how Jesus died for my sins. I was saved at age 6 by my personal, private choice, not by “walking an aisle” or making a profession. I wasn’t baptized until fifth grade, and even then didn’t completely understand. Then again, I didn’t completely understand all the theological positions to choose from when I was saved, but from my present theological perspective, God called me, by His grace I responded, and His Spirit has been indwelling me since, revealing more and more of the truth of what He did for me. This might be called sanctification, which has to start somewhere, and just like salvation, is a grace-governed process.

Sorry for the sidetrack; my testimony is important to me. Sharing it is important, too. I’m practicing.

Today is my first excursion into celebrating Reformation Day. I have been reading about the Reformation all morning, and wish to draw a comparison between the two historical interpretations of October 31.

Are Indulgences Tricks or Treats?
You may have heard on TV like I have that when a Catholic goes to confession for their sins, sometimes the priest gives them an assignment, like praying the rosary three times, or five “hail Mary’s”. This concept is apparently very old, based on the belief that to be made right with God and the congregation you have to show some proof of repentance beyond confession. Over the centuries this developed into a formal practice. A person who sinned could sometimes obtain an indulgence, which relieved him from earthly punishment (the need to perform “satisfactions” like those described above). They were usually purchased.
Johann Tetzel (1465-1519)
Johann Tetzel (1465-1519)

At the time of Martin Luther, the Pope wanted to hire Michelangelo and others to renovate St. Peter’s Church. To pay for this artistic upgrade, he decided to make a push for selling indulgences (like promoting war bonds). He chose a man, Johann Tetzel, who was a gifted and persuasive speaker, to go city to city selling indulgences. The claims Tetzel made about indulgences began to get extreme. Buy one for yourself. It will get you out of punishment for all sins past, present, and future. Buy one as a get out of purgatory free card. Or buy one for a relative to get them out of purgatory.

The indulgences were tricks played on superstitious, papacy-worshiping people. Tetzel went city to city much like children tonight will go door to door. He offered a trick and called it a merciful treat. The children will ask for a gift, be it a trick or treat.

Attractions: Tricks or Treats?
Evangelical churches across the country will provide a Halloween alternative tonight, calling it a Fall Fair, a Harvest Festival, or a safe place to trick or treat. Some will take the opportunity to share the gospel. In this way they are attracting the community to their churches. Pope Leo’s focus was similar (even if his motives were different): he wanted to make St. Peter’s beautiful so it would attract the world.

History: Trick or Treat?
When I went to look up books about the Protestant Reformation at my library, I could choose from two options: biographies of Martin Luther or a few books in the religious section of the Dewey Decimal System (anyone know who invented that and what he believed?). I would have put them in the history section, since the hundred years of heavy reformation in the Western world was a huge historical event, driving the rise and fall of kingdoms and the colonizing of America. You do not understand the history of European politics or the history of the United States, let alone our laws and culture, without understanding the Reformation.

Likewise Halloween is a little-understood historical day. Its origins are Celtic Paganism. See the Wikipedia article. This is not a cute time for children to have fun. All of it is about paganism, whether Catholic-tainted “All Souls’” or “All Saints Day” or purely pagan. The history of both of these topics is being suppressed.

The Gospel: Trick or Treat?
Finally, the Church should not have to Trick people before Treating them to the gospel. You do not need to bribe them with freedom from community-enforced punishment for their sins, or with beautiful buildings, candy and safe alternatives to Halloween. We need to be compassionately caring for the poor, loving our neighbors, etc. – but to do that as the door to share the gospel has two problems.

  1. It is a bait and switch. We tell the poor we want to take care of them, and then when they are captive audiences or grateful enough to politely listen, we share some version of “good news” about how Jesus loves them.
  2. We give the impression that the only reason we did the good deeds was to get people to listen to us, like the marketers who will give you a free trip to the mountains or a free knife if you just listen to their sales’ presentation.

Ephesians 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

The gospel is the grace of God. It is the most needed and priceless gift available. If we really believed that salvation is what Ephesians calls it, we would determine with Paul to know only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I am reading (parts of) an awesome book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Reformation & Protestantism.  This is not a confession of idiocy.  As a homeschooler we pride ourselves on knowing history, especially that pertaining to the Church.  I heard of most of these people and events as a student in world history class, but this book is a much fuller treatment.  I think the intervening studies of ecclesiology (you know, that prompting Changing Church) between high school and now has enabled me to grasp where the reformers stood, and what denominational traditions descended from whom. 

Here is what I learned this morning:

  • Martin Luther fired up the reformation.  He was mainly mad about abuses in the Catholic church, especially concerning indulgences.  He affirmed salvation by faith alone, and sola Scriptura.  However, Luther was not anti-Catholic, and retained many of the worship forms rejected by mainstream protestantism today. 
  • John Calvin is remarkably human.  Some present day denominations might consider this heresy, but I think I can see where he was coming from.  Though I thought presbyterians were very Calvinist, the presbyterian style of church was actually begun by someone else:
  • John Knox, who established the Auld Kirk, Church of Scotland.  I have been in a church run essentially on his model.  The impact he had on Scotland, which I have always admired for their theology and conservatism, is huge. 
  • Anabaptists were the 2-time baptizers not because they thought you had to be baptized twice, but because they didn’t count the infant baptism almost everyone had experienced.  They varied on other beliefs, but were traditionally more withdrawn from “outsiders”, politics, and wars. 

This last thing I learned so far is big.  Quakers are strikingly reminiscent of the Emergent church movement today.  From Idiot’s Guide to the Reformation & Protestantism: “The foundational belief of the Quakers is that God gives the individual divine revelation.  Each and every person may receive the word of God internally, and each should endeavor to receive that word and heed it… The Quakers rejected the formal creeds and regarded each worshiper of God as a vessel of divine revelation.”  Listen to a debate between, we’ll say he’s probably closest to a Calvinist, and an Emergent leader done by Way of the Master Radio

I checked this book out from the library to reference for another post I will hopefully publish today.  Stay tuned. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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