A Catholic author whom I respect read my manuscript. Shortly afterward he offered an endorsement and pointed out a few areas that he thought were worth expanding. He then made a passing comment, ” Your chapter on Martin Luther helped me to appreciate the man’s courage.” It had been so long since I wrote the Luther chapter that I decided to re-read it. After doing so, I too was inspired. Since then I’ve been reflecting on what it means to have the intestinal fortitude of Luther, even today. The following quote from Dale Davis provides helpful illumination on what this courage might look like.
Dale Ralph Davis (1944 – ), an honored professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, was called back into full-time pastoral ministry. He is well known for his lively devotional commentaries on Old Testament history books, such as Joshua, which combine thoughtful exegesis with practical application. In Joshua 14, Caleb recalls how he and Joshua had stood alone and trusted God, when they spied out the Promised Land (cf. Num. 13-14): faith can sometimes be lonely. Davis applies this insight to a variety of situations faced by today’s Christians.
“Hence [for Caleb] the devotion of faith required courage, a willingness to stand alone, to go against the grain. The devotion of faith led to the isolation of faith. Such is often the case. The Christian teenager knows what this is like, when he or she must go against the moral-ethical flow of high-school culture. The Christian executive who tells his superior that he must either resign or be transferred to another department, because he refuses to line up prostitutes for the company’s weekend visitors—that man knows this loneliness. Even pastors know a good bit of this. So you will not baptize the grandchild of a church member because the parents are not believers? Or you have the gall, along with the other elders, to place someone under church discipline? You may seek to follow the Lord completely and at the same time reduce church membership. God’s people then must be prepared, for devoted faith frequently means lonely faith. And yet when Paul alluded to his first defense and lamented that “everyone deserted me,” he added in the next breath, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Tim. 4:16-17, NIV).”1
1 Dale Ralph Davis, Joshua: No Falling Words (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2002), 116-117.
Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting
My favorite part of Luther’s “Here I stand” quote is the second part — “I can do no other: God help me. Amen.” Luther couldn’t imagine himself doing it any other way.
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