I am a fan of Martin Luther.
When I say I am enamored and influenced with and by Luther, you may not understand. Let me list a few of the ninety-five evidences: Right now I have one costume in my closet that I wear for our church fall festival every year: a monk’s cowl along with a mallet and nails. On my desk is an inkwell engraved with Luther’s face and the first page of his New Testament translation that I purchased at the Wartburg Castle. I have not only read extensively on Luther and his thought, I have been to Wittenberg, walked the streets, been to his house, stood over his grave and have touched his pulpit. My current twitter account picture is me in front the door in Wittenberg where Luther nailed his thesis. The day I was married I walked out to A Mighty Fortress is our God.
With all that said, it may not be surprising that on occasion I have something to say about the Roman Catholic Church. One such instance came in some general comments leading to an illustration in a sermon I preached last night. In recognizing that the Roman Catholic Church had selected a new Bishop of Rome (otherwise known as the Pope) just this past week, I commented, “We differ on the specifics of the gospel, how we are saved and justified, so we can pray that revival and even reformation could come to the Roman Catholic Church, we have been working on this for 500 years, and it seems to take them a long time, so there is still hope.” Though I still hold in essence to what I said, I had just closed the door to my car in the parking lot with those first few quiet moments a preacher of the gospel gets after having just completed a long Sunday. The Holy Spirit rolled me over with the conviction: “What about your own denomination? What about your own repentance, revival, and reformation?” ‘What about the church you pastor?” And almost, it would seem, in a still quiet unsettling voice, “What about you?” Needless to say, I had difficulty driving home with the 4×4’s in my eyes.
I still maintain we ought to pray for Francis I and revival to come to the Roman Catholic Church. We can only read that prayer suggestion a few dozen times in Operation World before we realize it is a serious prayer suggestion. But in the mean time, it is also time to pray for myself, for my church, for my denomination for all protestants and evangelicals. The Roman Catholic Church are not the only ones who are missing the cue on justification by faith and are failing in bringing a gospel of grace to a lost and dying world.