Category Archives: history

BreakPoint: Martin Luther Eric Metaxas Tells the Story of a Very Human Man Who Changed the World

To understand how the Reformation changed the world, you have to understand Martin Luther. Which is why the new biography by Eric Metaxas is a must read.

October 31st marks the 500thanniversary of the event regarded to have started the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Now, as my BreakPoint co-host Eric Metaxas writes in his outstanding new book, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Luther’s theses probably weren’t posted on the church door until two weeks later, and even then,  it may not have been that defiant act it’s often portrayed to be. Still, what did happen on that date was that Luther sent to the Archbishop of Mainz a letter expressing his concern about the selling of indulgences.

As Eric relates, Luther had no idea how that letter and the events that would follow in its wake would change the world.

Even today, most people, apart from some historians, fail to fully appreciate the impact of Luther’s ideas and actions. Protestantism is, as the title of Durham University’s Alec Ryrie’s book puts it, “The Faith that Made the Modern World,” and without Luther there’s no Protestant Reformation.

The problem is that history is too often told in dry and inaccessible ways, at least to non-academic readers. What’s been needed to appreciate Luther and his legacy more is a book that takes the history seriously by situating Luther in his historical and theological context while still being enjoyable, even fun, to read.

And that’s where Eric’s book succeeds.

In many ways, “Luther” is a kind of sequel to Eric’s “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.” Both books are about world-shaping historical Christian figures who, motivated by their conscience and conviction, took enormous risks against the most powerful institutions of their time.

And not coincidentally, both Luther and Bonhoeffer were from eastern Germany, as is Eric’s mother. I note this fact not in any way to detract from his accomplishment. On the contrary, Eric’s personal connection is one of the book’s strengths.

As is, of course, Eric’s trademark engaging style, full of clever turns of phrase and humor that makes the incredible story of Luther all the more accessible. Often, biographical subjects don’t feel human. They are, as was famously said of Robert E. Lee, “marble men.”

But not Eric’s Luther. He’s quite human, for better and for worse. Early on, you practically feel Luther’s anxiety and dread over his own sinfulness. Which helps to make sense of the terror he felt during that fateful thunderstorm that ultimately led him to become a monk, abandoning the legal career his father had mapped out for him.

All of this is important backdrop to understand why Luther’s study of Romans and the idea of justification by faith was more than an academic exercise for him. For Luther, it was more like getting water from a rock in the middle of a desert.

And yet throughout Eric’s book, we learn that Luther was far from being an angel, or for that matter, even pleasant a lot of the time. He was someone who, as a church historian once put it, never knew a moderate moment in his life. Eric writes of Luther’s “execrable fireworks” that were not only directed at his enemies, which included Protestants as well as Catholic prelates, but also at innocent parties, in particular Germany’s Jewish population.

As he did telling the story of Bonhoeffer, Eric depicts Luther’s humanity while simultaneously putting it in its proper historical context, one in which there was a perfect storm of church corruption, political instability, and technological change. Eric gives us a feel for both Luther the man and his world. Both are necessary to understand if we are to see how Luther changed the world.

 

Obviously, Eric’s a personal friend and a BreakPoint colleague. But I promise it’s nowhere in my contract to promote his latest book! This recommendation is driven only by the simple facts that Luther is too important a historical figure and Eric tells the story too well not to recommend this book.

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Local Christian School remembers First Responders on 9/11/17

A Christian School here in Omaha, Nebraska displayed this outside their school on 9/11/17.

Thanks to the Omaha Christian Academy ( staff, students, parents ) and to  my friend Denny for posting this picture on his Facebook page.

What does it really mean to make America great, again

Make America Great Again. It’s the mantra that’s become ingrained in the nationfal consciousness over the last two years, both embraced and scorned by millions.
We spoke with George Durance of TeachBeyond, who explained how to Christians, the phrase should involve something much deeper than politics.
( More )

Happy Labor Day from the late Chuck Colson

Happy Labor Day! As you enjoy your day off from work, let’s hear what Chuck Colson had to think about the dignity of work.

Eric Metaxas: Do we work to live, or live to work? I’d imagine that most of us would say we work to live: to pay the bills and support ourselves and our families. Many of us would admit that we work for the weekend—so we can do the things we really like to do, like take vacations, enjoy our hobbies and spend time with friends and family.

But I can almost hear Chuck Colson saying, “Hold on a minute, work is a gift from God.”

For Chuck Colson work was as much a part of life as breathing. From the Marine Corps to his law practice, from Capitol Hill to the Nixon White House, and especially ministering in the prisons and teaching Christian worldview, Chuck was a tireless, passionate worker for God and the causes he believed in so deeply.

In fact, although he was a few decades older than most of us on his staff, there were times we simply couldn’t keep up. This was a man, after all, who would show up at the office after the weekend and say, “Thank God it’s Monday!” And long after many men his age had retired, Chuck vowed he would work til the day he died. And for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what he did.

So this Labor Day, I thought it would be good to hear from Chuck on his view of work itself. Here he is now, from a BreakPoint commentary called “Working Class Heroes,” which aired back in 2002.

Chuck: I for one am happy to join the celebration of working-class heroes, especially today. Christians have a special reason to celebrate Labor Day, which honors the fundamental dignity of workers, for we worship a God Who labored to make the world, and Who created human beings in His image to be workers. When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them work to do: cultivating and caring for the earth.

In the ancient world, the Greeks and Romans looked upon manual work as a curse, something for lower classes and slaves. But Christianity changed all that. Christians viewed work as a high calling, a calling to be co-workers with God in unfolding the rich potential of His creation.

This high view of work can be traced throughout the history of the Church. In the Middle Ages, the guild movement grew out of the Church. It set standards for good workmanship and encouraged members to take satisfaction in the results of their labor. The guilds became the forerunner of the modern labor movement.

Later, during the Reformation, Martin Luther preached that all work should be done to the glory of God. Whether ministering the gospel or scrubbing floors, any honest work is pleasing to the Lord. And out of this conviction grew the Protestant work ethic.

Christians were also active on behalf of workers in the early days of the industrial revolution, when factories were “dark satanic mills,” to borrow a phrase from Sir William Blake. Work in factories and coal mines in those days was hard and dangerous. Children were practically slaves, sometimes even chained to the machines.

Then John Wesley came preaching and teaching the gospel throughout England. He came not to the upper classes, but to the laboring classes—to men whose faces were black with coal dust and women whose dresses were patched and faded.

John Wesley preached to them, and in the process, he pricked the conscience of the whole nation.

Two of Wesley’s disciples, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, were inspired to work for legislation that would clean up abuses in the workplace. At their urging, the British parliament passed child-labor laws, safety laws, and minimum-wage laws.

Here in America we’ve lost the Christian connection with the labor movement. But in many countries that tradition still remains.

But this Labor Day, remember that all labor derives its true dignity as a reflection of the Creator. And that whatever we do, in word or deed, we should do all to the glory of God.

Eric: It’s always great to hear from Chuck. Now before I leave you today I want to ask you to please pray for the residents of Houston. And do what you can to support Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse that are providing aid and relief.

Mickey Mantle New York baseball star gave his life to Christ on his death bed

The following is an excerpt from Richardson’s 2012 book, “Impact Player,” where he details the final conversation he had with Mantle, just days before Mickey passed on.

On the plane, as I realized this likely would be my final visit with Mickey, I prayed for my teammate’s life.

We arrived in Dallas that night. First thing the next morning, I headed to the hospital. I didn’t know what to expect as I pushed open the door.

Mickey flashed his down-home, country-boy smile.

“I can’t wait to tell you this,” Mantle said right away. “I want you to know that I’m a Christian. I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior.”

( Read the rest of this powerful story. )

Once upon a time believers outlawed Christmas ( they were right, and they were wrong

Listen to a radio sermon.

50 years ago her life was changed

Fifty years ago, everything changed for her. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

On the same weekend in 2012 that Chuck Colson fell ill and ultimately went home to the be with the Lord, we recognized Joni Eareckson Tada as a modern-day William Wilberforce.

And recently, in an interview with Christianity Today, Joni looked back on fifty years since a diving accident left her bound to a wheelchair, recalling how she discovered a depth of trust in Christ she never knew before, and embraced the higher priorities of God than just healing our bodies.

In the decades since her accident, Joni has created and has led one of the most effective ministries on behalf of those with disabilities. She’s helped draft historic legislation, opened hearts and minds, and inspired millions with her painting and singing.

She’s also become a fierce opponent of the culture of death, fighting assisted suicide and euthanasia, which devalue and destroy lives made in God’s image. Thank God for Joni Eareckson Tada, and may she continue to prove His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Margaret Bergmann Lambert, Jewish Athlete Excluded From Berlin Olympics, Dies at 103

Read the story.

 

 

 

Deism and America’s Founders

Read some commentaries on the men who were used to put America together,here or listen to the audit of them.

“We are too proud,” President Lincoln said that.

Too proud-to-pray