John Meunier, my friend, you aren’t (the apocryphal) Martin Luther

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk
Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John writes,

…I cannot arrive at any conviction other than the one that says sodomy is a sin…

…But his disapproval and the disapproval of many other men and women I respect cannot change the conviction I have when I try to work through this matter. My conscience is captive to what I understand the Word of God to teach…

…And so, this is where I stand. God help me.

Why I cannot applaud Bishop Talbert | John Meunier.

This is an attempt at channeling the moral authority of Martin Luther. Not only does this position Luther as the favorite anti-Catholic hero, but this is roundly taken out of context.

Luther was open to change (at least on paper), with the entire speech not a brick wall, but a challenge to show him where he is wrong.

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.

Luther is offering a defense, not a refusal to discuss. John confuses his version of conscience with what Luther is meaning. John’s stance becomes mired and mixed with Luther’s, although Luther doesn’t refuse to change, but simply asks where he was in error. Luther, at least here, shows some humility and foresight that he may be in error. John, my good friend, does not.

I admire those who can take strong stands, but if you do not know why and cannot defend your stance, much less refuse to be open to change, then your stance becomes nothing more than fundamentalism personified. Rather than say “this is where I stand. God help me” what should be said is “this is what I think and God help you if you try to change my mind.”

It is time for United Methodists to have a conversation about these issues, but the discussion must be populated more with open minds than false bravado based on out-of-context quotes and a refusal to change.

Here, John, is where I stand. God help me to be open to knowing if I am wrong. Now, let us reason together so that neither one of us are cast into the ditch.

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5 Replies to “John Meunier, my friend, you aren’t (the apocryphal) Martin Luther”

  1. I can’t get past the combination of narcissism and heresy in one pronouncing anathema on how some people love other people. Invoking Luther to demonstrate pigheadedness is all well and good; insisting that “sodomy” is “sinful” when all you can say is you are personally icked-out by the thought of people of the same gender having sexual relations shows that someone should be quoting The Princess Bride at you. And getting whiny when someone calls your writing homophobic when it is homophobic doesn’t win you any points, either.

  2. Hey Joel, thanks for the invitation.

    I was not conscious of trying to channel any of Luther’s moral authority, but I did find myself feeling that my position is one that I cannot abandon without abandoning my conscience. I certainly had Luther hovering in the background as I wrote, but I did not intend to somehow trade on his authority.

    My post does not show my work, but I have for at least the last five years had a lot of conversations and done a lot of reading to try to understand the arguments and discern the most responsible and faithful position I can find. I am not opposed to further instruction, and I thought I wrote in the post that I acknowledged that I could be wrong, which I hope suggests I would be open to change.

    At the moment, though, I am what I am. (To channel Popeye rather than Luther.)

    1. John,

      When you use another’s words, aren’t you trying to channel them? That is the usual use, unless you are mocking them.

      Again, Luther wasn’t unwilling to abandon his positions, only that he had to be convinced either by Scripture or by Reason that he was wrong. He simply wouldn’t just listen to authorities on their word only.

      After writing consistently you will not change, then writing ‘I am wrong’ comes of rather hollow.

      We are always are what we are, or am or you know. But, equally so, we are not yet what we will be.

      1. I thought I replied to this last night. I must have never hit “post.”

        Maybe your critique is fair. It implies more conscious awareness of the thing — more strategy — than I am aware of in my own mind and memory. I found Luther’s statement about being captive to the Word of God an effective and eloquent statement of how I feel about this matter. In my pre-Christian life, I would not argue the same position I hold today (see, I do change), but I cannot find a way to read Scripture and submit to it as a final authority in matters of faith and practice and come up with a different position.

        If that is channeling Luther, I guess I am guilty. I was not trying to get people to agree with my point of view because I quoted Luther. I was quoting Luther (or his press agent) because the sentiment in the statement rang true with my own sense of my own mind.

        As for writing consistently that I will not change, I do not follow your point. I do write in the excerpts that social disapproval cannot change my conviction arrived at by study and prayer. But that does not mean the conviction might not change. My convictions on these matters have changed over time and may do so in the future. For today, they are what they are. I have never claimed to be without error. If my writing implied that, then I recant that implication and ask you to chalk it up to poor writing.

        1. John,

          you seem to imply one simply ‘finds a way to read scripture’ and that a ‘pre-Christian life’ changes certain things. Not to mince words here, but this goes to the heart of the matter. You are looking for ways to read Scripture while believing one way is Christian and the other not.

          Yes, I know why you were quoting Luther, but my position is that you are using the wrong context.

          I care very little to nothing about social disapproval and would not want that to change any opinion. However, there are scholars who disagree with others, and given we are Wesleyans do not find our faith and practice as resting only in (how we read) Scripture, or even finally, we must take in the other three legs as well.

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