Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha reminds me often that I was created in love, was born in love and can be nothing other than love. In the Bible I have seen passages that speak of a punishing God and a God to be feared. Perhaps those passages came about as a result of honest attempts to translate the scripture from one language to another, since anything I have read about the life and teachings of Jesus suggest he emanated pure love and compassion.
I was raised in the Lutheran Church in the small pine and granite village where I lived in northern Canada. I did not know who Martin Luther (1483-1546) was in those days and only came to study his works in my later adult life. In learning about what he did during his life, it gave me a deeper understanding of what I had inherited from my family by way of their spiritual practices and why Grandmother’s reflection to me about love being the essential nature of my (our) being made sense.
Martin Luther was a very courageous man. He was a dedicated monk, yet believed the Church was corrupt. He withstood many years of arduous ordeal because he took a stand for what he knew in his heart of hearts was right and he would not back down. From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
German theologian, professor, pastor, and church reformer. Luther began the Protestant Reformation with the publication of his Ninety-Five Theses on October 31, 1517. In this publication, he attacked the Church’s sale of indulgences. He advocated a theology that rested on God’s gracious activity in Jesus Christ, rather than in human works. Nearly all Protestants trace their history back to Luther in one way or another. Luther’s relationship to philosophy is complex and should not be judged only by his famous statement that “reason is the devil’s whore.”
My interpretation of his “famous statement” is that reason is “mind” or “free will.” It is where we have the choice and capability to separate from the Source. Through logic and reason we can remove ourselves from the truth of who we really are – infinite beings innately containing the principles that characterize the Source.
In Luther’s lifetime the Church’s position was that a person could only come into God’s grace through righteous actions. He (Luther) understood that every human being was intrinsically righteous and in God’s grace without having to do anything to make it happen. It was God’s gift to mankind, to simply be born with those essential qualities. This was a major bone of contention between Luther and the Church which eventually got him banned and treated as a heretic. He held to his principles and initiated the branch of reformation we know as “Lutheranism.”
Martin Luther was a hero. Here is his prayer for courage:
you have called your servants
to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.