How can the Protestant Reformer and the group of pastors/theologians/coffee aficionados have anything in common? Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Luther is most noted for his 95 theses. Nailed to the door of the church in Wittenburg, they were a spark for the Protestant Reformation. Luther is probably most famous for his “Here I Stand” speech. Given in Worms when commanded to recant, it was Luther’s most public refutation of Roman Catholicism and his subsequent ‘witness protection’ life allowed him to begin a German Bible and commentaries.
But if you asked Luther what he thought was the most important thing he wrote, he would probably have answered ‘The Bondage of the Will.’ Luther saw this issue and not indulgences or priestly abuses as the central issue between the Bible and Rome.
‘The Bondage of the Will’ is Luther’s response to a booklet by Erasmus that pushed the (unofficial) idea of Rome regarding the freedom of the will. To be fair, Erasmus really wanted to stay out of the whole thing and was strong-armed into writing it. But Luther didn’t care- he saw a softball and smacked it.
Erasmus, in his preface, goes on and on about not wanting to make ‘assertions.’ Basically, he didn’t want to make many statements about the bondage or freedom of the will because he was sure that no one could really know that much about it. (Are you beginning to see where this is going?) This drove Luther slightly insane. Paraphrasing- he says ‘if we can’t really know anything about it, why are you writing? Anything you say assumes some knowledge, but you don’t want to assert any knowledge. You seem to love uncertainty and there is nothing worse than uncertainty.’
The zeitgeist today is the same. The only thing certian is uncertianty. The emergents love to put out lots of books to assure you of the ‘rightness’ of ‘unassuredness.’ The paradoxes stack up like IHOP. How can you assure someone of ‘unassuredness?’ It’s like saying ‘there are no absolute truths.’ Which is in itself an absolute truth. And something my profs in school loved to say. Didn’t make sense then; doesn’t make sense now.
Luther tells Erasmus, again paraphrasing (and not nearly as sarcastic), if there is a Bible and the Bible is God’s Word then uncertianty and ‘unassuredness’ are sins because God has worked to make sure we are saved from both.
Amen to that.