October 31, 1517 is the traditional date when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church, outlining his theological position and declaring his opposition to many practices of the Catholic Church. That makes this week the 500th anniversary of the events that marked the beginning of the Reformation.
When Luther was on trial for promulgating his convictions, he concluded his remarks with the following seminal statement. While historians dispute whether Luther spoke some of these words or they were later added to the edited version of his speech, the thrust of his meaning is clear.
Martin Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason – for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves – I consider myself convicted by the testimony of the Holy Scripture, which is my basis. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
While the issues are certainly different today, we still need this same depth of conviction as Christians. Our consciences must be captive to the Word of God – on issues like marriage, morality, racism, and gender. We have to decide if the Bible is our ultimate authority or if changing cultural mores will redefine our positions on these matters. We have to decide if we, like Luther and countless other Christians throughout history, will take our stand on timeless Truth.
We make this choice knowing the consequences may prove difficult. We make this choice once and for all-time, meaning we will not recant. We make this choice entrusting ourselves to God’s care. We have no other hope.
I have decided to stand with the Word of God when addressing current cultural challenges. Where will you stand?