Americans are becoming increasingly a-historical. One recent example is the effort to remove historical monuments from the public square. Another example might be this month’s anniversary of Martin Luther’s monumental contribution to the Protestant Reformation. Who even knows about that anymore?
George Orwell envisioned a day devoid of history: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Orwell was no Christian. His purpose in writing was only to awaken people to the dangers of a totalitarian state. Nevertheless, we need to remember that totalitarianism is not always civil. It can also be ecclesiastical.
Most people in Luther’s day were illiterate and ignorant. They believed what their priests told them to believe and did what their priests told them to do. Life can be very simple under a totalitarian system.
Jesus offered a less-easy, but far-better way of life: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Paul offered the same spiritual liberty: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
There is no such thing as “an endless present” and “the Party” is not always right. True liberty is found in scripture and, historically speaking, that was the first principle of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura
Sometimes I fear that Protestants (i.e., Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, etc.) have lost sight of their shared historical roots and I hope this article serves as both a warning and an invitation.
If you would like to learn more about your Protestant heritage, contact me and I will mail you a free booklet entitled “The Five Solas of the Reformation.” I would also be happy to speak to even the smallest groups on this topic.
Love your history. Study your Bible. Stay free, my friends.
This article was written by Pastor McShaffrey and appeared in the Reedsburg Independent, Oct. 2017