Having reflected on the historical events of Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521, it’s time to reflect on what it still means. Are we still standing? At Worms Luther was asserting that no man, neither King, Emperor nor Pope, has the authority to place himself above the authority of God. The authority of God is made plain to us in and by the Word of God. If Luther was wrong about what he had written, he wanted to be shown from the Word that he was wrong. He did not appreciate being told that there would be no discussion at Worms and that he must recant and trust the interpretation of the Pope and the councils. Luther rightly recognised the Emperor, the Pope and the councils were no authority at all because they put themselves essentially above the Word. Five hundred years on, the Roman Church has not changed. Worms is still relevant. What has changed, however, is that many in the Protestant and Evangelical churches have actually succumbed to the same problem Luther was standing against at Worms.
Today many who call themselves Protestants ground their authority in subjective experience and feelings. Some Protestants, wanting to distance themselves from the classical Liberal, claim to believe God’s Word but are so unbiblically reinterpretive of Scripture that – functionally – they remain Liberals. They continue the age old question of the Serpent: ‘Has God Said?’ or more deceptively rather, ‘has God really meant…’. In this way they can keep the illusion that the Bible means something to them while denying it at the same time making it say what they want it to say.
Other Protestants often repeat the same mistakes of the Anabaptists by suggesting that all we need is the Spirit to guide. The way they do this, however, is to drive a wedge between the Spirit and Scripture that if feelings or ‘words from the Lord’ do not match Scripture their experience and feelings still trump Scripture. Or they claim God has said something that cannot be tested by Scripture, therefore they automatically claim it as confirmed because Scripture technically does not speak against it – a dangerous place to be. If it cannot be tested, it cannot be admitted with the authority of God’s Word. In many ways these Protestants are in a position far worse than Roman Catholicism which openly admits the equal authority of tradition and Scripture. These Protestants do, however, often pay lip service to Sola Scriptura but what they really mean is ‘I alone decide…’ and ‘I’ll be the judge.’ Instead of having one Pope, now we have millions.
Are we still standing? Or has culture bent our arm and forced us to succumb to its truth? Culture is the new ‘tradition’ that is seeking to impose its authority on the Protestant church. Cultural Marxism (critical theory, critical race theory etc) is making inroads almost unabated.
Culture, though feminism, says that man and woman should and can have the same roles in the church, family and society. God says man and woman are equal in worth but that they have roles which when obeyed according to Scripture, provide the greatest families, relationships and societies we can have: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Gal 3:28) Culture says women should preach and pastor but God says men should preach and pastor. Culture implies women should lead the family, but God says men should lead the family: ‘This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.‘ (Titus 1:5-9) ‘But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.’ (Titus 2:1-5)
Cutlure says homosexuality is good and a human right. God says homosexuality is wrong and that it is a perversion of the good relationship He designed between a man and a woman: ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Cor 6:9-11) Did you note that its not just homosexuals who are called out: the sexually immoral (i.e. any sex outside of marriage), the thieves (yes illegal tax evasion and illegal movies are stealing), the greedy (for money, promotion, unjust gain), the drunkards ( yes nightclubs and alcohol soaked parties), and the revilers and swindlers or cheats will not inherit the kingdom of God. Anyone feeling left out? I am pretty sure this list includes all of us at one time.
Culture says almost any sexual sin is permissible even premarital sex, adultery and many other heterosexual sins: ‘Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.’ (1 Cor 6:18–20) ‘Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.’ (1 Tim 1:8–11)
Culture says a man can be a woman and a girl can be a boy. God says, we are born either a male or a female: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1:27) ‘But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6)
Culture says that to ‘repent and believe’ in the gospel, is either unnecessary or just not true. God says repent and believe or you will perish: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ (Mark 1:15)
Culture says all Christian sects, religions and denominations are equally right and true. God says we are justified by faith alone and if we deny this we are cut off from Christ: ‘You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.’ (Gal 5:4)
Of course there are many other things that culture is bidding us to come and lay down at the altar of Satan – after all our battle is not against flesh and blood against the devil and his cronies. Is our conscience captive to the Word of God or to the words (i.e. dribble) of man? Are we still standing, or have we bowed the knee to Baal?