Where are the Reformers Today?
by John J Murray, Banner of Truth:
‘Here I stand, may God help me’
Some of the most life-changing events in the history of the church have come about due to a stand being taken by one man at a critical juncture. In this year, 2017, we are commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, an event which lit the fires of the Protestant Reformation. Later the Reformer was summoned to the Diet at Worms. where, on 18th April 1521, he declared: ‘My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against my conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me. Amen’. The Edict of Worms, dated 8th May 1521, declared Luther an ‘outlaw’ together with his adherents. That is the kind of difference that one man can make!
It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching and soften his message. Sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. It is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. What an encouragement it would be to see more ministers taking a stand. It is not often nowadays a man steps out of line. It was so recently with Rev Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman of the Church of England and Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen who made a public stand against the reading of the Qur’an in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow on 7th January 2017. He resigned from his duties and left the Church of England. Douglas Murray, author and analyst, wrote on the Gatestone Institute website: ‘Very occasionally – even in contemporary Britain – some good news arrives. No single piece of news has been more invigorating than the discovery that a member of the Church of England has found a vertebra’.