For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel. Martin Luther
Breaking News: More turmoil in SGM. Joshua Harris ‘stepping down’ or pushed out from board because he is apparently ‘at odds’ with the SGM ‘leadership’ over the Mahaney mess. Things are happening fast and furious and it appears, for now, that things are a bit out of control for these control-meisters. As Mahaney would say "Change is here to stay." Here is the LINK.
Breaking Response: Before beginning our post, we would like to link to SGM Refuge so that our readers can read Brent Detweiler’s response to the charges that were despicably raised by the stone-cold leadership of SGM. We believe that said leadership is ably demonstrating a spiritually abuse tactic of “the messenger is the problem.” Please read our article on this tactic, Odd Man Out, that we posted at this Link.
We also highly recommend the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Can our reader’s guess why???
Dateline: Assyrian Online University with Professor Dee and Deb presiding…
Today is Thursday and it is the day we do a little history lesson. In order to keep it relevant, we are responding to a most astute comment from insightful reader, Lin, whom we believe received a Doctorate in the School of Hard Knocks at this fine institution. Pay attention, for you will be tested.
“I could be wrong but think Josh is throwing bones to the peasants on purpose. Part of what others are calling the ‘glasnost’. Which is a totally new thing for SGMers.”
Her comment fits in with today’s topic: Martin Luther and the Peasant Revolt. Much to the chagrin of the Calvinistas, PBS overlooked John Calvin and declared Martin Luther was most influential person of the last millennium in a program that aired on the last day of the old millennium. Although I do not have the link, I was listening on that day, in which the most influential invention was declared to be that of the Gutenberg Press which was that era’s version of the Internet.
Luther had his faults, just like Calvin, and many historians would point to his contemptuous view of the Jews and his support of the nobility during the Peasant uprising as his two greatest mistakes. Others might add his disdain for the Book of James and Revelation but that is another topic. We understand that a few historians might disagree but, in general, there is some consensus on this matter.
Today, we would like to focus on the Peasant uprising because we believe that it holds some very important lessons for the principles in this current debacle. These would include CJ Mahaney and his ardent defenders such as Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and the ’leaders’ of SGM.
As you read this account, please put those who have shared their hard stories at SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge in the role of the peasants, CJ Mahaney and the SGM leadership in the role of the nobility and Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan in the role of Martin Luther. Oh yeah, we are the Gutenberg Press.
The Peasant War took place between 1524-1525. Martin Luther was now widely respected throughout Germany. The German nobility had played an important part in protecting Luther from the Pope’s murderous intents and as such, he was understandably indebted to them.
A group of German peasants, who believed that they were experiencing extreme economic oppression at the hands of the German nobility, presented a petition, called the Twelve Articles, to the Holy Roman Emperor. This was the German King who had received this title from the Pope and who ruled over an area encompassing central Europe.
The document asked for the abolishment of certain taxes and for the establishment of common lands on which the peasants could hunt and fish. They also called for the abolishment of the oppressive serf system. They wanted, in other words, the right to be free and to be allowed to lease land on which to build a living.
In fact, it may have been Luther’s own stand against the Catholic church that gave courage to these peasants who also sought justice from another kind of oppression. However, they would soon find that they did not have a friend in Luther. Although they raised armies, they were doomed to failure.
“Although the revolt was supported by Huldrych Zwingli and Thomas Müntzer, its condemnation by Martin Luther contributed to its defeat. Some 100,000 peasants were killed. Reprisals and increased restrictions discouraged further attempts to improve the peasants' plight.” Link
Although Luther had encouraged the nobility to see to the plight of the poor, when push came to shove, he published Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, denouncing the uprising. Some would say he did so to protect the reformation, perhaps fearing that the nolbilty would blame Luther’s ideas for the unrest. LINK
Lesson learned for this current situation
1. There was the appeal to Biblical “authority” to justify quelling the peasant uprising.
The “authority” tactic was big then and even bigger now within the Calvinista crowd. Luther misused Scripture to his advantage then and many authority junkies do so now.
Some believe that Luther based his attack on the peasants on what is known as Paul's doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, which he based on
Romans 13:1-7, which says (NIV-Bible Gateway):
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Luther spoke out strongly against the peasants showing little concern for their oppression by the nobility.
(Luther, Martin. Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants. (1525) )
“The peasants have taken upon themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man; by this they have merited death in body and soul… they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers… now deliberately and violently breaking this oath… they are starting a rebellion, and are violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castles which are not theirs… they have doubly deserved death in body and soul as highwaymen and murderers… they cloak this terrible and horrible sin with the gospel… thus they become the worst blasphemers of God and slanderers of his holy name”
It is our opinion that much of the turmoil within SGM, as well as some of the Reformed Baptist crowd, rests in a nonnegotiable belief in the power and authority of the local pastors. These hardliners appear to run roughshod over the people in their churches who raise questions about their actions and polity. Their belief in the God-given power of the pastor is then used to make unilateral decisions. This adherence to their authority means they have little use for those who would disagree with them. After all, they know what God wants them to do and the peasants better not get in the way.
2. Once order was restored, the nobility put harsher rules in place to avoid any such revolt again.
SGM dissenters be prepared. Unless the leadership renounces their previous practices there is little doubt that they will institute further oppressive rules that will limit the ability of the local priesthood of the believer to have any input. It can get worse. They claim it will take one year to change things. That is a long time. As time passes, the passion of these moments will fade and there will be less push to make major changes.
3. No one noticed the peasants until they revolted
One thing for sure, the blogosphere is making the cries of today’s ‘peasants’ heard, loud and clear. Today’s ‘nobility’ will respond by trying to shut down the most effective means of communication with which God has ever blessed the masses. Anybody has the right to set up a blog and put his ideas out into the marketplace of ideas. If we can do, so can anyone.
However, the current day nobility will be unsuccessful in trying to shut down the blogs. So, instead of dealing with it like big boys, they will stomp their feet and pass resolutions to declare that blogging is unscriptural. They will attempt to discredit bloggers by calling them names. These are the feeble attempts of increasingly desperate men who cannot believe that the masses are beginning to question the status quo. Could it be that blogging is the next great Reformation of the church?
4. Leaders, who are more concerned with their own aggrandizement, often ignore the voice of the multitude.
This is evidently the case in this situation. I have not heard one word by Mohler, Mahaney, Duncan, Piper, the ‘leadership’ team of SGM, about the years and years of accusations which have been raised by hundreds of hurt people and their friends on SGM Survivors. This is the reason that we at TWW became interested in SGM. We had rarely read so many instances of reported cases of abuse within one organization.
We have contacted some well-known pastors and begged them to consider the issues being raised at SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge. But we have been ignored. One even claimed that we were assaulting the character of the men involved.
It appears that leaders support leaders and have little use for the peasants. So, the peasants are speaking out.
5. History will judge those leaders who ignored the cry of the people.
But maybe money and power in the present trumps the old “cloud of witnesses” thing in the future, doesn’t it?
6. The cause of the Reformation became more important to Luther than the people.
Do you see this in today's Calvinistas? The cause is more important than the people they are called to love and serve. In fact, the peasants, with all of their needs and issues, just seem to get in the way of these preachers who are trying to do the Lord's work.
However, this time, the peasants have a weapon that cannot easily be overcome. They have access to the court of public opinion and, in this case, the public is beginning to listen. So, to Mohler, Mahaney, Duncan and the leadership crowd at SGM, what do you want your legacy to be? Do you wish to be know as oppressive patriarchs or loving leaders following the example of the Great Servant who spent more time with the nobodies than the somebodies.
We leave you with this You Tube video submitted by astute reader Craig who gets an “A” in this course. This little clip humorously represents the stance of the Mahaney apologizers!