“Midnight Call Is Not of Malgo”

René Malgo

Even 500 years after the posting of Luther’s Theses in October of 1517, the theme of Reformation remains a tricky affair. For instance, depending on the theological persuasion of the reader, we receive disapproving communications for having expressed ourselves too positively or too negatively about Martin Luther. The same is also true of statements about John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, or the Baptists. The problem of the Corinthians of Paul’s time is still current in the church: one is of Calvin, one of Luther, and from the next corner we hear, “Goodness, not him!” But Paul already warned nearly 2,000 years ago:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:10-13).

Midnight Call is not of Malgo, of Lieth, of Luther, of Calvin, of the pope, etc., but is only a small cog in the wheel of the worldwide church of Christ. He is the head. He has been crucified for us. We serve Him and are answerable to Him. Therefore, we also feel free, to the best of our knowledge and conscience, to say things about Martin Luther and the Reformation which have left a good impression, as well as those that have left a bitter aftertaste.

In connection with this, we must address what is probably the most difficult question regarding Martin Luther: why did he express himself so viciously about the Jews?

Some especially great fans of Luther doubt that the Reformer had ever expressed anti-Semitism. They say that the anti-Jewish writings are fakes. In fact, it is true that the celebrated Luther had already, during his lifetime, had certain statements attributed to him which he had not made. And to this day words have been put in his mouth, and it cannot be proven whether he actually ever said them.

With regard to Luther’s anti-Semitic writings, a professor of church history once said to me, in a nutshell, that: even if, for example, Luther’s worst writings were a falsification of the Jews and their lies, there are still many anti-Jewish remarks in other sermons and writings of the Reformer. The religious anti-Semitism which Luther showed at the end of his life cannot be denied.

Anti-Semitism remains a sin of the Reformer. But Luther would be the first to concede that only the grace of God and Christ saved him, and not himself. Why he was led to this sinful behavior, we cannot say with certainty.

The sins of Luther, which are still being discussed, should sober us. When the Bible says that the human heart is deceitful, and when Paul complains that he himself does what he hates and that there is no good in his flesh (Rom 7:15-18), God’s Word also really means it. So, then, we should not be surprised when other believers disappoint us. Great men of God are not without sin—in the end we are all saved by grace alone, and not of ourselves (Eph 2:8).

That is why we should not cling to human beings, and in this sense we should not be “Lutherans,” “Calvinists,” or even “Malgoans,” but only—with every fiber of our being—Christians. Let us cling to Christ Himself until He, our Head, appears to take us, His body, to Himself forever. —“Amen; come, Lord Jesus.”

Midnight Call - 07/2017

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