Martin Luther’s Ambassador: An Unclean Frog Spirit
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Revelation 16:13-15
So….the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has created a new office of “ambassador”…and it appears that one of the chief tasks of the ambassador will be to practice diplomacy on behalf of Martin Luther to the postmodern west. God knows, Luther would really need it, were he living. He would have many things to say, but I can only imagine what he would say at the thought of a lady in preaching tabs trying to salvage his legacy by saying, “In spite of his hatred of Jews, his support of the slaughter of the proletariat during the Peasant’s Revolt, and his backward attitude towards women, he’s still a role model.” (Yes, that’s what she said. Use google translate and you’ll get the gist of it. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/luther-botschafterin-margot-kaessmanns-thesenanschlag-11731642.html )
Oh, and did I mention this was the lady who resigned as chairperson of the EKD a couple of years ago after she was arrested for driving while falling-down drunk?
Yep. Margot Kaessmann. The writer of the article, it appears (with my limited German), is decrying the hypocrisy of the EKD in creating the new office for the woman who recently resigned. He notes the irony of a priestess who serves at the altar of the gods of modern, tolerant, multicultural europe–and, considering her disgrace, the service of those idols has not been unprofitable for her–now serving as ambassador for the man who said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”–and went on to live the rest of his life under a death sentence. And what was his crime? Fidelity to Christ crucified, to the Triune God. Standing by faith on the Scripture as God’s Word, not taking refuge in the authority of the Pope or the Magisterium or the councils or the Fathers, but clinging to Scripture against his conscience and the devil, against the terror of hell, and against all the power of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Luther risked his life and his soul to believe and confess and teach that a man is justified by faith alone without works of law (Rom. 3:28).
The first and chief article is this, That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25. And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6. Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3, 23 f.
Now since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us…
Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink into ruin. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12…And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope. the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and the devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.
Yes. And what has Margot Kaessmann risked for her gospel? That is to say, her priestly service at the altars of feminism, tolerance, political correctness, and the other regnant gods in the west?
Well, she got hammered and resigned, and has kept busy with gigs teaching theology. And now she’s Luther’s ambassador at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Now, God bless Ms. Kaessmann and be merciful to her. I have no pleasure in her being disgraced in public and struggling with alcohol and the attendant personal pain she’s no doubt has. If I was anybody famous, it could be me whose name was on the front pages in 2010. I sin, and even if I’m not getting drunk and driving today, it would not be surprising if I fell into sin.
However, making her the ambassador for the Reformation is ludicrous.
First of all, even people who don’t care about Christianity at all can see the lack of dignity in this. Apparently this is a trait of German pseudo Lutherans as well as American ones. The lady suffered public disgrace, and now you make her the spokesman for the Reformation on its 500th anniversary? Are you kidding? Christians are supposed to endure disgrace–that’s the theology of the cross. But the theology of the cross does not invite you to disgrace yourself by sin and then parade it in front of the world and say you’re glorying in the cross. “If you sin and suffer for it, what credit is that to you? But if you do good and suffer patiently, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you were called, because Christ also left you an example, that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2)
That’s number 1. Number 2: Luther’s “Ambassador” is actually obscuring what Luther preached and what the Reformation was about. The thesenanschlag (I learned a new word today)–what we Americans refer to as the “nailing of the 95 theses”–turned the world upside down. What was such a big deal about it? Was it that, since we’re justified by faith alone apart from works, we no longer have to worry about sin? That was what the papists smeared the Lutherans with at the time of the reformation–that the doctrine of justification taught by Luther would lead to moral laxity and would undermine social order. There would no longer be clergy and laity, public worship would become anarchic and undignified, etc.
Well, what the Papists smeared Lutherans with, claiming it was their teaching,now actually is the teaching of mainline Lutherans–or rather, those churches that still call themselves Lutheran even though they have given up the Lutheran confession and united with the reformed. Actually now the Lutherans think that the doctrine of justification means, as Bonhoeffer said, “the justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner.”
Unfortunately, what this means for Luther’s memory, those who want to still believe and confess his doctrine, and the witness of the Reformation is that on the 500th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenberg door, the world will be receiving a false witness concerning Luther, the Gospel, and the Reformation.
Why did the Reformation happen? It happened because the Holy Spirit saw fit to restore the Church at that time and place, ultimately; but it didn’t happen to make it safe to sin, nor to undermine the Pope’s political authority. Those were, perhaps, effects of the Reformation, but not its reason.
The Reformation occurred because the Word of God was proclaimed, which declares not that sin is no big deal, but instead that it is an incredibly big deal, so big that God will not allow the smallest sinful impulse to go unpunished, but in His justice He will reward with His undiluted wrath all ungodliness, and that no amount of human striving can free us from this wrath. This was the first part of Reformation preaching, which made clear what the Law of God actually says–that no amount of human activity can deliver us from God’s wrath, because God is just.
But the second part changed Luther, and Germany, and Scandinavia, and broke the Pope’s chokehold on France and the low countries and Britain; it made it so that the Americas and Africa were also not locked up in the darkness of a false gospel with no light permitted to enter (at least, not by the church’s hierarchy), as Europe had been.
That was the Gospel–that on account of Christ’s agony and death, God counts as righteous all who believe that they are received into favor for Jesus’ sake. God has laid the sins of the world and His inescapable wrath on His Son, and through Him declares the full forgiveness of sins–and we receive this grace of Christ not by working and striving, but as a gift, when we believe what the Gospel declares–that He suffered for us and our sins are forgiven on account of His blood.
This good news doesn’t free us to live immoral lives, because no one who believes that their sins have been forgiven at the cost of the suffering of God’s own son, and who believes in the great, passionate love that Christ has for him–no one who believes that wants to go out and purposely trample on Jesus’ blood and crucify Him again.
That’s why Luther, later on in the reformation, fought vigorously against Lutheran preachers who eradicated the law from their preaching, saying that the law should no longer be preached, but only the love of Christ, and that people should be moved to repentance not by God’s threats but by the love of Christ revealed on the cross.
What Luther fought against–antinomianism–is now going to be paraded about in 2017 as Luther’s gospel. That’s what makes this whole thing a frightening blasphemy, bordering on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Let me close by painting a picture in broad strokes:
What is left of Christianity in the West in 2012? Rome.
The heirs of revivalists and pietists–but they are floundering, trying to find something more substantial to stand on than emotion and evangelistic zeal and appropriation of American consumer culture. Sadly, when they start floundering, they usually find Calvin–and through him some connection with the church fathers and with sola gratia and sola fide. But Calvin is not the pure gospel. Perhaps he’s an improvement on Arminianism–but it was the flaws of Calvinism that led to the spread of Arminian theology in America anyway. If your assurance of salvation is located in your sanctification, or your experience of the new birth–no wonder if tormented sinners who have no assurance that they are elect look for comfort in the idea that they can choose to be saved.
The vast majority of the rest of protestantism is looking increasingly like Unitarian Universalism. There are some confessional Calvinist enclaves. There are also some confessional Lutheran enclaves, but either we don’t get out much, or we still don’t speak English well. One way or the other the Lutheran Confession–the pure Gospel, the authentic evangelicalism–is mostly unknown as a living faith and a living church. To many people it’s just one more religious movement whose dogmas are locked away in old books in libraries that only experts and scholars visits. To most people it’s simply unknown.
So what happens when, in 1 or 2 or 3, or 5 generations the West’s moral rot finally leads to cultural exhaustion?
We can’t be that far from that now. Human beings can’t fornicate and sodomize and look for heaven in food and consumer products thforever. Eventually cultures like ours that believe in nothing don’t have the energy or the heart to fight the barbarians. They end up convincing themselves that even though the barbarians rape, murder their children, enslave, and plunder, it’s probably bigoted of us to think our values are better than theirs.
But the kids who grow up seeing society fall apart and who lose their birthright have a different outlook. They have forced upon their consciousness things that their parents really knew but convinced themselves that they didn’t–things like–you can’t just sleep with whoever you want, because without stable families and without ordered relationships between the sexes, society crumbles. Things like: there is a moral law, and it’s not forever unclear and uncertain. And the reason there’s a moral law is that there is a God who created the earth and who cares whether or not we live according to the law.
Kids who watch society collapse suddenly have to get honest about these things that we already knew. And when they do, religion won’t seem foolish to them–unless it’s the kind of religion that lied to them and their parents and never bothered to tell them that God hates sin and punishes it in this world and the next, and that He brings judgment on nations that become sclerotic in their rebellion against Him and His law.
Nope, they won’t listen to lying “Lutheran” preachers, and they probably won’t listen to any Christians who even seem similar. They’ll probably be so disgusted with the lying preachers who did not sound the alarm and tell the truth that they won’t want anything to do with the real Luther either.
And that will leave…Rome. Or Islam.
So anyone who wants Jesus but knows that antinomianism is a lie will be all set up for Rome. And people will have forgotten why the Reformation happened.
That’s why it’s not just ironic or sad that this is what the EKD is doing to celebrate the Reformation. But it is in reality a fulfillment of the words of St. John’s Revelation quoted above.
The dragon (the devil), the beast (the Roman empire, or its descendants), and the false prophet (the Antichrist) have unclean spirits come out of their mouths, and they go out to deceive the nations and the kings of the earth, and gather everyone together for the battle against Christ. That is what is happening when the world is deceived into rejecting the Gospel.
Right now we think the worst thing that’s happening is the dechristianization of the west. It’s true that when the communists in Russia and China killed and imprisoned Christians and made the church go underground, that was the work of antichrist. And in those countries where Islam beat the church into submission, not allowing them to proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors–that was also the work of the spirit of antichrist. And now, to have the state churches of Christendom apostasize, and formerly Christian nations willingly living like atheists–that is also a very bad thing.
But there is something worse. Much worse. That is what the Reformation was about.
Worst is when you have a whole continent where the Church is everywhere, where images of Christ crucified are everywhere, where the Holy Trinity is confessed and people are baptized and the Scriptures are read and Christ’s body and blood is even eaten and drunk–but the Gospel is hidden; the saving knowledge of Christ is not preached, and if anyone tries to preach it they are killed and branded an enemy of Jesus.
In that case, the devil’s false prophet has taken his seat in the temple of God, in the Holy Place, and has proclaimed himself God, arrogating to himself the right to contradict God’s Word and displace Christ as the head of the Church.
That is what the antichrist does–and Luther knew who the antichrist was. If the antichrist went into a Jewish temple or simply attacked the church from outside it would be easy to recognize him. What is so awful about the real antichrist is that he looks like a Christian.
Rome is shaping up to look like the only ones who have managed to hold the fort on the only things unbelievers are able to grasp–that is, morality. Note how when the ELCA permitted union with the reformed, or tolerated those who denied the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus or the atonement, there was no huge vote and the church didn’t split. What made the church split? Homosexuality. Unbelievers can tolerate idolatry and waffling on Christian doctrine (I’m not saying that all ELCA folk are unbelievers…what I am saying is that the majority of people in most denominations are weak in faith and usually still think according to the wisdom of the flesh, which does not understand why faith in Christ is important but does understand works.) But even unbelievers know that if there’s one place a line should be drawn in the church, even if we give up all the others, it’s probably homosexuality. Didn’t God send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah?
So the Lutherans are the ones who are okay with homosexuality. But the Catholics? They publicly have held the line there–and about abortion, contraception. They end up looking far more Christian than mainline protestants.
But the problem is that the catholic church, which emphasizes holiness and proclaims the mystery of the incarnation and death of the Son of God with more awareness of its depths than the Lutherans–denies Christ by making Him a lawgiver but not our only righteousness, our only mediator.
That is why Luther knew the Pope was the antichrist. Because from the very heart of the church of God and looking like a lamb, the papacy enslaves and murders souls.
In Luther’s day the Pope ruled the whole of western Christendom. But for the last five hundred years his total control has been broken. Even though in reformed nations a perverted form of the Gospel was preached, the deception that the pope was the head of the Church by divine right was broken over about half of Europe–and then in the US, and through protestant missionaries a Christian church independent of the antichrist spread throughout the world.
And as a result, many of the things that the antichrist “prophesied” came true. Popes prophesied that the doctrine of justification and the loss of the papacy would lead to lawlessness. They were right. If the pope still dominated the consciences of the west, Hitler would never have happened. Communism wouldn’t have happened. The kings might have grappled with the Pope, as they did throughout medieval history…but they couldn’t get free of him, even if they wanted to, because if the pope put the country under the interdict the king could be certain that he would lose his throne. That’s what happened when people feared the pope’s authority and believed that he had absolute authority over the church (and the authority to command kings and to release their subjects from obedience to them).
If the papacy had remained unchallenged, we wouldn’t have seen the “secularization” of the west either. Because the pope enforced outward submission to the Church by force. When that compulsion was broken–just as he predicted–many people now used the freedom as an opportunity to be the godless people they already were in their hearts.
The problem is that the pope’s compulsion was not the Kingdom of Christ. Because Christ does not make people behave by force. In His Kingdom people become obedient and live holy lives because they are willing, because they are new creatures, and the Holy Spirit compels them to do good works and to resist sin.
So yes, when the Gospel was preached and it broke the Pope’s chokehold on Christendom, it also freed people to be godless and to reject Christ. But it was worse under the papacy. Because then, in the name of Christ, people were forced to give a certain outward allegiance to Christ. But at the same time they were kept from Christ and Christ was kept from them. Because the pope condemned to earthly death anyone who preached the good news of Jesus as written in Scripture, and he threatened anyone who departed from his authority with damnation.
Have you ever noticed how so many people who are lifelong catholics–who may barely practice it at all, or who may be disgusted with it, or who may have embraced some form of protestant theology–how hard it is for them to leave Rome? It’s because just about anything can be permitted in the realm of antichrist–except rejecting the authority of the antichrist and what he calls the “church”.
The lying spirits in protestantism don’t look like fools because they’re all stupid. The devil makes sport of them. He enjoys this because he is still angry that the Gospel arose and dealt a mortal wound to the antichrist’s kingdom, so it’s fun for him to make a joke out of those who bear the name of Luther. But more importantly this mockery and apostasy within protestantism prepares people to be deceived by the antichrist.
May God have mercy on all pastors who have departed from the Gospel; on the EKD and Ms. Kaessmann, and on all those who are presently deceived by lying pastors or a false gospel, or who are imprisoned by the antichrist. And to spite the devil and for the sake of His mercy, may Christ grant again that His pure Gospel be heard loudly and clearly and unmistakeably throughout the world once more before He comes to judge the living and the dead.
“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”
–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 2410b, p. 110.
- Is This The End Result of Protestantism? (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Luther Said the Darndest Things… (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Martin Luther (lettersfromthetop.wordpress.com)
- Forgotten influence of Martin Luther (savouringthegospel.wordpress.com)
- Feel the wrath of the reformer: The Martin Luther insult generator (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Observations about Martin Luther (fromchicago.wordpress.com)