|For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Dear Friends of Bibelseminar Bonn,
On October 31st the "Year of Luther" will begin. 500 years of reformation! For years the preparation has been running full-swing in churches. In this context, much about Luther, the year of Luther, theology, and the church is discussed. We as free churches, especially as Mennonites and Baptists, have an ambivalent relationship to Luther and the reformation. On one side we are thankful for the important reformatory steps which Luther made possible, on the other side we are ready, like the so-called radical reformers such as Felix Manz, Konrad Grebel, Georg Blaurock, Balthasar Hubmayr, Menno Simons, and many others, to go farther in order to reform theology and the church. Because of this these men became a problem against which Martin Luther and the other reformers vehemently fought. But after a good five hundred years, together we can thankfully celebrate: The reformatory principle of biblical interpretation and exegesis is revolutionary for our biblical interpretation. The essential points of reformational theology - such as the "five Solas" are important center points to our theology today. Martin Luther's translation of the Bible is still appreciated by many, as even today it has exemplary character for Bible translators. Looking back, we can thankfully celebrate that and much more. Nevertheless, the true assignment of the church is not in the past and also not in the future, but rather in the present. We must reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The authority to do that lays not in a person or in an institution, but like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "The message of the cross is... the power of God." Not Martin Luther, but rather the Gospel must be moved to the middle point of this anniversary. Recently a friend let me through the Billy-Graham Museum in Charlotte (North Carolina). This museum presents the life and works of a gifted evangelist, who is a legend still today. In the beginning and the end of this exhibition, as well as in the middle, stands not Billy Graham as the focus, but rather the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. I said to my friend, "When I go through this museum, I receive new courage to evangelize!" His answer: "That is the purpose of the museum. Many have made decisions for Jesus here!" If that happens as a result of the year of Luther, we have properly celebrated the anniversary not only for the sake of Luther, but also for the sake of the Gospel!