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Ordained of God: A Litmus Test

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A Litmus Test for the "Ordained of God"

Among those friends and acquaintances of the more religiously devout, I have often asked questions that have puzzled and perplexed the most knowledgeable people. In particular, I would like to address the issue - or rather, decree - of those who have been presumed "ordained of God."

Now literally thousands of souls have at one time or another been declared the mouthpiece of God, a prophet, a teacher, or an orator of divine revelation. Martin Luther, for instance, the founder of Protestantism (he submitted in 1517 A.D. his 95 Theses to the Roman Catholic Church; go to
http://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html to read them) was and is considered by many to be annoited of God. Oh, not "anointed" in the same way Jesus Christ was anointed, but anointed, so to speak, by the Holy Spirit of God (if one favors the Trinitarian view). In short, moved by what he perceived as injustices in the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the buying and selling of indulgences, Luther's resistance and subsequent ostracism led to many, many subsequent changes, categorically summed up in what is called The Reformation.

Interestingly enough, Luther's ongoing study of religious texts as a result of his excommunication and Germanic translations of the Bible (derived in large part from Erasmus' Textus Receptus) led him to the belief that parts of the original Bible was "'good to read' but not as the inspired Word of God" (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther). Even some of the books in today's Protestant versions of the Bible were considered dubious by Luther, epistles whose divine origins were historically disputed by early Christians, most curiously, Revelation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antilegomena).

However, Luther's actions are deemed - at least by Protestants - as ordained of God, a 16th century spiritual "voice of reason" in an age of gross abuses by religious clergy, primarily those involving the selling of indulgences. Just ask any modern, mainstream Protestant if Luther was anointed by God, and they will answer a resounding "Yes."

Fair enough?

Now here's where the Litmus Test comes into play: Is it safe to assume that when a person is ordained of God, they are acting within God's will? (If you don't agree, then wouldn't you have to admit that perhaps the Bible's authors were not ordained of God as they wrote the text? Luther re-wrote the Bible, and most seem perfectly willing to accept it and read it today as if it was personally handed to them by Jesus Himself!) The only logical answer is in the affirmative.
Then here is the quandary: How can someone "ordained of God," if you will, believe and openly profess derision for something that is absolute fact? Wouldn't God have blessed and enlightened that someone so that they see through the web of secular logic and argument and perceive the truth?

Martin Luther committed such an act when he forthrightly derided the Copernican heliocentric theory, published at the dawn of the 16th century. In fact, Luther is reported to have said the following concerning the teaching of Heliocentrism:
"People gave ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth" (
http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/whitec02.html).

Now stop me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Earth really revolve around the Sun? Wherefore, then, does Martin Luther - a man ordained by God - come off on the side of deception and error? Granted, it is possible to assert that being chosen, or ordained, by God does not make one's every action or utterance necessarily right: Luther is, afterall, still human and weak like the rest of us. However, there is a flaw with such an explanation, for couldn't one equally ask, "How do we know on what issues Luther was guided by God, and what issues he was guided by on his own?" Obviously, Luther was dead wrong on the geocentrism thing. Could he have been wrong on anything else?

Although some of you may accuse me of inciting doubt in my readers in the belief in divine will and ordination by God, I would counter-charge that you may be inciting blind faith in "man" and in humanity's ability to divine Truth from deception. All I wish to do is to inspire thoughtfulness, to provoke contemplation, in a topic otherwise accepted dogmatically by many people today.
Creation versus Evolution. Rapture versus Non-rapture. Conservative versus Liberal. Patriot versus Traitor. Truth versus Heresy. All of these traditional polar opposites - and many more - require reexamination as to their veracity, a fresh look into the logic behind their arguments and the political-sociological traps we often fall prey to as those in positions of authority seek to consolidate their base and their power. To simply accept at face value the "opinions" of others without research and introspection is unwise. But to accept things by others under the assumption that "God said..." or "God so ordained..." is a dangerous proposition, one that could lead to further erroneous suppositions.

Let me conclude with a simple little story indicative of the topic at hand:
A boy was watching his mother bake a ham. Before she placed it in the oven, the mother removed both ends of the ham with a sharp knife. "Mommy," the boy asked, "why did you cut off the ends of the ham?" The mother smiled and laughed, "Because that's what we're supposed to do, silly!" But the boy was not satisfied, and continued to ask his mother why. When the mother had no further explanation, she insisted, "Go ask your grandmother, son," with a frown and deep sigh.

"Grandma," the boy asked when he next saw his grandmother. "Why do we cut off the ends of the ham before putting it into the oven?" Grandma gave the boy an all-knowing look and soft chuckle before replying. "That's how it's supposed to be done." "But why?" the boy persisted, beginning to annoy his grandmother. The grandmother told the child that that's the way it is and that it isn't polite to keep pestering her, but the boy was not satisfied. "Oh, go ask your great-grandmother!" she finally blared, unable to take anymore questioning. Finally, when the boy next saw his great-grandmother, he asked, "Great-grandma, why do we cut off the ends of the ham before it goes in the oven?" Well, the old woman laughed and laughed heartily, for the young child's question brought back a vague memory long forgotten. "Why, that's easy to answer," she told the boy. "When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived on a homestead on the prairie. Her cast iron stove was so tiny, that almost nothing could fit in it! I remember that she had to cut off the ends of the ham just to make it fit!"


See the moral, anyone?

I think when Christ said to come to him like a child, he was thinking of that innocent, childhood fascination to know "why" and "how," not the naivete that accepts everything at face value simply because we're told, "That's the way it's supposed to be!"

Whose ordained voice are you still following? Do they pass the "litmus test?"

 

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