Sins of our Forefathers, Part 11
Key Tenants of Reformation/Council of Trent/Second Vatican Council
Certain key tenets of Luther’s theology have shaped Protestant Christianity since the 16th century. They include his insistence on the Bible, the Word of God, as the only source of religious authority, a dogma known as sola Scriptura; his emphasis on the centrality of grace, appropriated by faith, as the sole means of human salvation; and his understanding of the church as a community of the faithful—a priesthood of all believers—rather than as a hierarchical structure with a prominent division between clergy and laity. Recent interpreters of Luther have attempted to understand his thought in terms of his struggle against the overpowering reality of the Devil or in terms of his intense fear of a death that would permanently separate him from God. Although there is evidence to support both views, neither quite captures Luther’s spiritual essence. What seems to characterize him more than anything else is an almost childlike trust in God’s overarching forgiveness and acceptance. Luther talked much about his temptations, by which he meant his doubts about whether this divine forgiveness was real. But he overcame these doubts, and his life thereafter was one of joyous and spontaneous trust in God’s love and goodness toward him and all sinners. Luther called this “Christian freedom.”
The center of scholarly attention in Luther studies in the late 20th Century was Luther’s understanding of the proper role of the Christian in society and politics. According to many scholars, Luther’s disavowal of the German peasants in 1525 and his notion that, as he once put it, “The Gospel has nothing to do with politics” facilitated a tendency toward political passivity among Protestant Christians in Germany. Luther’s notions developed in opposition to the belief developed by the medieval Catholic Church that all of society wore a Christian mantle. The notion of a “Christian” politics or a “Christian” economics was very much disliked by Luther. However, this did not mean that the public realm had no principles that needed to be honoured. What Luther rejected was the notion that there was a uniquely “Christian” approach to these realms; uniquely Christian, Luther insisted, was only that which pertained to Jesus’ salvational work of redemption.
In Martin Luther’s older years, he realized that he would not be able to convert Jews to his version of Christianity, so he unleashed a tirade of anti-Semitic writings. He argued that Jewish synagogues, schools and homes should be set on fire, that Jews should have their assets confiscated and that they should be used as forced labor and expelled.
The Five Solae of the Protestants Reformation.
The Five Solas are by faith alone, by the Scripture alone, by grace alone,
by Christ alone, by God glory alone. So let’s look at a few of these to see if they are correct in their statement.
Hebrews 11:1 says this, “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.” So who is right and who is wrong?
Romans 3:28 tells us this, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the Law.” James 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
We saw earlier in part 2 that Paul and James did not contradict each other. In fact when Luther translated the New Testament into the German language he added the words “alone” to Paul’s statement. So what does it mean to have faith in the work of the cross? Is this not what your faith needs to be in? Is not faith in itself work? Let’s use a synonym for faith, like trust: Now trust means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for… or confidence means putting our full faith in the things we hope for. Maybe we are saved by trusting in the work of the Lord, or having our confidence in the work of the Lord, either way there is something on our part that we must do either, trusting or having confidence or having faith is still work on our part and this is what James was talking about, but Paul was speaking of the works of the law as far as a believer having to become a Jew to be saved. He still upheld the law in Romans 3:31, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? Far from it! On the contrary, we establish the Law.”
Romans 6:15-16 tells us this, “ What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but under grace? Far from it! Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
We know that sin separates us from God
Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Luke 13:3 tells us what Yeshua said, “Unless you repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways and live changed lives], you will all likewise perish.”
We can see that we must still have to walk in the ways of the Messiah if we truly have faith in His work on the cross.
Luther believed that only the Word of God was to be used as our basis for belief. On the surface this is correct, but As we saw in part 6, how do we know which books were left out? And what truths were never revealed to us.
Also you have to ask yourself with so many translations, which one is correct? According to Wikipedia, as of September 2020 the full Bible has been translated into 704 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,551 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,160 other languages. Thus at least some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages. There are translations and revisions, and some translated word for word, others translated thought for thought, some according to their philosophy, and so on. According to livescience.com “There are more than 45,000 denominations globally. Followers of Jesus span the globe. But the global body of more than 2 billion Christians is separated into thousands of denominations. Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Apostolic, Methodist — the list goes on.” If all of these translations and opinions can create so many denominations then what is truth?
We just saw that Martin Luther added the word alone to Romans 3:28 and of course, you always find added commentary in different lines of Scripture which are all based on the translator’s own views of that line of Scripture like John 4:25 “The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” Yeshua was not called Christ in His day. This only happened when we stripped Him of His Jewishness and changed His real name to Iesvs in Latin, and Iesous in Greek, and then when the letter “J”, in 1524, was added to the alphabet His name was then changed to Jesus, when all the time we could have said His real name Yeshua, the Name His Father gave Him, meaning God’s salvation for a reason. But I ask you this question, Acts 4:12 tells us this, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” So which name is the correct name under heaven that we should use to be saved? Only Yeshua, which means “God’s Salvation,” The name His Father gave us.
This verse in the AKJV Matthew 1: 21, has been changed as every other modern version, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Yeshua was Jewish not Greek or Latin or any other nationality, so why have we changed the most important name in the Scriptures? We also know that so much has changed over the years as each council got together to voice their own opinions and made their own doctrine to fit that opinion and those who taught heresies and people like Constantine who changed dates and days and names and the Scriptures had to be changed to fit the narrative, like this line of Scripture:
John 1:17, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Messiah Yeshua.” So let’s look at this to see if it may have been changed or added. John 1:14 tells us this, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” But in this content there was no need for this to be put in, so was it added like many other things to form their doctrine to make people think that the law is obsolete? The Torah is Truth, because Yeshua is the Word (Torah) made flesh. Yeshua came not to nullify the Law but to make it complete. The Law of God is His holiness, it is what sets His people apart from the world. It is His teachings and it is His Commandments. He chose the Jewish people, not on their merit, as we have not been chosen on ours. This is grace. He delivered the Jewish people out of slavery (Eygpt), not on their merit, just as He has delivered us from our slavery of sin, not on our merit. This is grace, but once again it was to take away the value of the Jewish people and to nullify the Hebrew Scriptures.
But Scripture alone also meant that people should not consider traditions or other books. We learned that the Didache was written by those who had been taught by the apostles, but still, people today use commentaries like they are the Word of God, even though many of these people are only giving their own opinion. Today people are writing books as though they are authorities on the subject. Pastors today even get their sermons online because they do not know the Word of God. Even Psychology has entered into the teaching of the Scriptures. Romans 3:2 tells us, “ They (the Jews) were entrusted with the actual words of God.” The Jewish people have had the Torah going back to Moses, which he received by God Himself. Yeshua quoted Scripture after Scripture from the Torah. If it was not true or not for our use, I don’t think He would have quoted it, but it is for our use because it is our foundation. The Jews have their books like the Mishnah, which is a book that is on the study of Scripture and was published at the end of the Second Century CE. The Mishnah is an edited record of the complex body of material known as Oral Torah that was transmitted in the aftermath of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
Yes, the Rabbi’s have been debating Scriptures for centuries, but that is what it is, a debate, and when you read their debates in their commentaries it says, Rabbi so and so said this, and Rabbi so and so said that, and you can see for yourself which school of thought you think is right. Even in Yeshua’s day they debated. Yeshua would often debate with the teachers of His day, because He said to them, in Matthew 5;17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (In the Hebrew what Yeshua was saying is that He had come to teach the law correctly.) Yeshua was a Pharisee and not a Sadducees, and in today’s world that would equate to a Orthodox Jew.
Because Yeshua would correct them on the oral law, people today think that He was fighting with them because they were hypocrites or heretics, and as we would say today, Yeshua was canceling them out. But this is not true, Matthew 5:21-48 is a good example of this. Everytime Yeshua would say, “It is said”, He was referring to the oral law, which was open for debate, because the oral law had to do with how one walked out the commandments of God. This was not a debate on the written law. Some of the Jewish references were written by people before Yeshua was even born, and even their prayers go back to King David, and their worship goes back to Moses, and when Chrisitans try to teach the Hebrew Scriptures based on modern day commentaries it makes no sense, because we do not understand the idioms of their language that were used. We need to go to those books that have been used throughout the ages by the Jewish people, for if God entrusted them, then we should also trust them. We no longer question what we are taught, because we do not know the Scripture ourselves, but Act 17:11 tells us, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” If they questioned Paul then we should be questioning our Pastors and Teachers as we examine the Scriptures.
The Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was held in 1545-1563 as a counter -reformation. It’s main purpose was to respond to the issues at hand and enacted the formal Roman Catholic reply to the doctrinal challenges of the Protestants. The Council met for twenty-five sessions under three different popes. It issued condemnations of what it defined to be heresies committed by proponents of Protestantism. They made sweeping decrees on self-reform and for its dogmatic definitions that clarified virtually every doctrine contested by the Protestants like
teachings, including Scripture, the Biblical canon, the Old and New Testament books were definitely fixed, and the Latin Vulgate revised, and was declared adequate for doctrinal proofs, a stance against Protestant insistence upon the original Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture. Decrees on sacred tradition, and the nature and consequences of original sin were defined. After months of intense debate, the council ruled against Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone: a person, the council said, was inwardly justified by cooperating with divine grace that God bestows gratuitously. Indeed, both of the doctrines of the Protestant reformers—justification by faith alone, the authority of Scripture alone—were put down, and the doctrine of justification by both faith and works on the basis of the authority of both Scripture and tradition were uplifted.
On the sacraments penance was extensively defined, extreme unction (later, the anointing of the sick) explained, and the number of sacraments was fixed at seven. On the Mass, it defined the Mass as a true sacrifice; in place of the liturgical chaos that had prevailed, the council laid down specific prescriptions about the form of the Mass and liturgical music along with issued doctrinal statements on holy orders, matrimony, purgatory, indulgences, and the veneration of saints, images, and relics and the veneration of saints and salvation.
The 2nd Vatican Council
In 1962 the Vatican held it’s 21st Ecumenical Council. The purpose was to address the role of the church in the modern day world. They thought that it was time for a spiritual renewal. So they changed the liturgy of the Mass from Latin to whichever language was of the people. They also thought that it was time for those Christians who had separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church to return. By describing the church as the people of God, a pilgrim people, the council fathers provided the theological justification for changing the defensive and inflexible stance that had characterized much of Catholic thought and practice since the Protestant Reformation. They gave more church responsibilities to lay people. The “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” establishes the principle of greater participation by the laity in the celebration of Mass and authorizes significant changes in the texts, forms, and language used in the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments. The church began uniting believers and they started at the beginning by uniting the East and the West, the Eastern Orthodox and Rome by putting back together what Constantine separated. They also looked to bring back those who separated from the universal church because of Martin Luther. The baby step that they started with was that it was all right if a person came into either’s church, like for a wedding or a funeral.