Are We Beginning to Experience What Martin Luther Did in Rome?
In 1510, while he was still a Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther was pumped. He got to journey to Rome, the Holy City. Visions of the New Jerusalem. It was a difficult, long, and perilous trip, but he went. He loved his church. He loved that city. But everything was about to change for him. Here is Pastor Tom Browning’s description of the outcome of Luther’s visit to Rome – (you can read it in its entirety on monergism.org) –
“Luther had come to Rome with an innocence and naiveté and he was going back home to Erfurt a better, wiser, sadder man. Later he would say, He came to Rome with garlic and left with onions…which I think amounts to about the same thing. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Luther was not yet a reformer…but the Lord had planted seeds of disillusions in his mind. He was no Protestant…he was still in every way a Catholic…but the Lord had started a rumbling deep down in his soul and the Lord intended that disillusionment to grow until Luther was altogether miserable. It would be necessary for the Lord to hollow Luther out completely before he would be able to receive and hold the truth of the doctrine of justification for himself. And Rome had had helped to push that process along. Luther was no longer quite so naive but he still believed in the medieval Catholic Church. He still believed that all that was needed was a strong reforming Pope to come in a sweep all the unbelief and unbelievers and put an end to all the abuses. But alas, that was not what was going to happen. The pope of the future, Leo X, was exactly the opposite of what Luther hoped for. The abuses were going to get worse and then the gospel was going to break in on Luther and subsequently on the whole world.”
What changed him? The abuses and evils he saw in the not-so-holy city. You can read about them in most any church history book. He was sick. He was devastated.
I think that I am feeling like Luther – at least in some measure. The conservative, Bible-believing church that I love and have served for nearly 30 years, is showing me some pretty ugly stuff. I am not going to trash-can my orthodox, Bible-believing faith. The Bible is God’s inerrant Word. We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. But there needs to be a serious Reformation, and not only in regard to this issue of abuse. Abusers find the professing church a safe haven because of more serious, underlying issues. We do not require biblical repentance. We preach an easy-believism by which even devils who profess to “believe” in Jesus are counted as Christians. We will not practice biblical church discipline for sin, but we will put someone out who violates one of our traditions. It is a sad state. And the people love it so.
Lord, please come in power and renew Your church! Demolish our false temples and idols so that the true church of Christ will once again flourish.