Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where the Battle Rages

Matrin Luther wrote:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest expositon every portion of the truth about God except precisely that little point at which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Knowing where that little point is here and now is almost impossible. We simply don't have the perspective. But the difficulty of the task does not free us from the responsibility of working to discern where that little point lies.

The Episcopal Church is struggling with many important issues , but I am sure that the little point lies somewhere in our struggles with poverty, with the growing gap between the world's richest and poorest people, the growing gap between its richest and poorest nations. When the Episcopal Church's General Convention stated in 2006 that the Millenium Development Goals would be the church's major mission focus, there were cries of protest from some who think that evangelism is the only mission focus possible. To me that response comes very close to what Luther saw as failing to confess Christ while bold professing him. For me the central challenge for Christians in the First World is responding to the pressing needs of people in developing nations. And our response can't simply be aid; it needs to involve the transformation of the world's economic institutions. So long as those institutions do not make sustainable development in the world's poorest nations a priority, the gap will continue to grow.

I don't assume that meeting the challenge will be easy and I may be wrong in thinking that God's and our concern for the poor is the little point where the battle must be waged. I am willing to wrong, but I am unwilling to sit back and not enter the fray, unwilling to spend my time and energy only in safe places. There is risk in waging this battle, but I believe that it is the one in which I can move beyond professing Christ to confessing him.


Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I discovered that there is some controversy about the quote that I attributed to Luther - it seems that it may not have been Luther. If that is true, not only did I get it wrong, but McGill's Douglas John Hall did as well, so I'm in good company.

The quote has been used widely by creationists, but then the devil can quote Scripture, so I still will use it, carefully noting that it is probably not an authentic Luther quote but reflects, IKMV, Luther's theology.

Douglas Bond said...

sound very much like Luther, but they were actually written by the The words attributed to Luther are actually from Victorian-era novelist, Elizabeth Charles. The words appear in her Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family, as if written by the fictional narrator Friedrich (“Fritz”) Schönberg. The attribution to Luther was perhaps due to some confusion arising from the fact that in the context this character was explaining why he could not abandon Lutheranism. — M.D.M.