Andrew Schwarz erroneously links the United Nations and the Catholic Church in an attempt to compare carbon credits with — wait for it — indulgences. The link being, necessarily, that blind faith in climate change is comparable to… well… you know… those papists trying to throw us back into an age of mysticism.
Or something like that.
The key takeaway that is lost isn’t so much that Martin Luther “liberated” anything. Luther correctly addressed the institutional abuse of the Catholic Church, but incorrectly applied this to the workings of the Church as a whole. In fact, in the papal bull condemning Luther’s errors, only 43 of the 95 theses were singled out as erroneous… ones that Luther, on a point of conscience in the tradition of humanists such as St. Thomas More and Erasmus, could not bring himself to recant.
I need not go through blood and terror that sprang forth. Nor need I remind anyone that the corruption of the Christian faithful still exists in Protestant and Catholic denominations alike. Far from liberating Christianity, Luther himself rejected much of what he had wrought closer to his death — Luther never desired separation from the Catholic Church, only it’s reform.
Still, the political machinations that drove much of the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Catholic Restoration radically altered the desires of Martin Luther and countless other “reformers of the reform” since.
Bringing the point back to “climate change” and other political religions of the day…
Perhaps — like Luther — there is a point to the challenge of climate change. Are humans causing it? Is there science behind the claims? Is that science “settled” or is there a body of work that can debate the merits?
Challenges to the established order of things — whether it is climate scientists approaching the public, or Martin Luther and the Diet of Worms — must be taken in their context, and whether the changes being asked for are really in a search for truth, or whether there is a more political, divisive content behind it.
Luther’s concerns were most certainly twisted for political advantage, much as “climate change” today is being twisted. The Wars of the Reformation cost over 8,000,000 lives… something when compared next to vilified experiences such as the Inquisition at 4,000 lives seems to pale in significance. This was not Luther’s vision of a reformed Christianity, but rather a mauled, twisted perversion of it.
Today’s efforts — at the United Nations and elsewhere — to enforce a reform of environmental practices do have a cost. Ask any farmer about the quality of fertilizers today, or any business trying to comply with EPA regulations, or even your average county planner with regards to wastewater runoff compliance. Environmental reform, much like any sort of perceived reform, has it’s cost.
What is needed, as Luther learned later in life, is a balance struck between the needs for reform and the establishment of the tried and true. Luther eventually rejected the “political religion” he inspired while holding fast to the essential truth that reform was necessary.
It’s important to remember in all of this that Luther was not without his faults. Luther was a virulent anti-Semite in later years, hid the second marriages of supporters, advised followers to “be a sinner and sin boldly; but believe more boldly still” in their daily life, and heavily edited Scripture and removed entire books from the Bible. Yet in his faults, Luther was not one to blindly hold to error. Luther’s feuding with Zwingli over sola Scriptura reveals the Augustinian buried in Luther’s writings. In Luther, we read a profoundly conflicted man — sometimes zealous, but always seeking truth — whose trust in God to bring him to truth was so overwhelming, Luther believed it would shatter all doubt and failings.
Such zeal is what we, as Christians, should be put on guard against. This is the zeal that blinds us to the suffering of others, or perhaps allows us to take fraction of the truth and pursue it to such great ends that we forget everything else.
It is a lesson our more modern friends of the secular left could stand to re-learn as they push other ideologies or “reforms” upon the rest of us.
In this light, the reformers at the United Nations stand to compare themselves more directly to 16th century Lutherans, Calvinists, and Zwinglians than they do with 16th century Catholics. Their “reform” for the sake of their own theses and dogma stands in contrast to the way things are. Yet in the end, much as the Reformation before, the crusaders for climate change will not be able to affect their aim, because they will allow political agendas to influence true reform.
Mr. Schwarz attempts an analogy, but it misses the mark widely. Beware the revolutionaries…