Lincoln as a monkey holding the Emancipation Proclamation

So this is what I get with my morning coffee on October 11, 2017 ….

“A college of Oxford University banned a student Christian group from appearing at a freshman fair out of fear it would lead to “alienating” students who practice other religions. The Christian Union of Oxford’s Balliol College was initially banned by an event organizer who felt students might feel “unwelcome” due to what he calls the Christian religion being “an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism,” The Times of London reported.  I wish they would also have reported that Oxford was the home of two of the greatest writers and Christian apologists in history.  C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were Oxford dons and spent years I guess making freshmen feel unwelcome.  The next step would be to ban Frodo and Bilbo, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe from the memory of man.

We just celebrated Columbus Day, or uncelebrated it as “Indigenous Peoples Day”.  I was visiting with missionaries in the Dominican Republic a few years ago and asked about the Dominicans idea about Columbus and found that he was a hero.  Why?  Because he is considered to have brought them Christ?  Reading stories from the U.S I read that the Dominican is full of self hatred and racism because of that kind of attitude.

I am greatly interested in history and am fascinated by the felt need to remove monuments, especially the ones from the Civil War.  I am also fascinated by the apotheosis of Abraham Lincoln.  Many who praise Lincoln now would have bitterly opposed him in his day. He was called an ape and a gorilla. He was the ugliest man in America. His wife was criticized as were his children. He was called a buffoon and a liar. He was not fit for the office and its supposed dignity. There was criticism of his Gettysburg address at the time. His home paper said he was” falsifying history,” another referred to it as the “President’s silly little speech,” and still another accused him of “using soldiers’ graves for political oratory.” The Chicago Times said: “The cheeks of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dishwatery utterances.”  Lincolns fascinating “better angels of our nature” speech was challenged as being “involved, coarse, colloquial, devoid of ease and grace, and bristling with obscurities and outrages against the simplest rules of syntax.”  That was from the editorial writer at the Jersey City American Standard.  We know of course that editorial writers are paragons of ease and grace and non obscurites.  Our modern day feminists must have learned their history from their early sisters like Elizabeth Cady Stanton who said that if Lincoln were reelected she would pack her bags and move to the “Fijee Islands”.  We don’t know if anyone ever pointed her in that direction or gave her a spelling lesson.

I have been thinking about these things as we approach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Thesis.  One of my heroes he has been called a drunkard, a wild boar, an anti-Semite, and a mentally ill foul mouthed bully.  He has been studied and psychoanalyzed to the point of absurdity.  He has been vilified and the subject of such obloquy that one expects to see horns coming from his head in the Cranach woodcuts.  He is also considered that outstanding of a figure that everything we see around us is in some way connected to his actions.  As Eric Metaxas has written in a recent biography, “Luther’s writings and actions so altered the landscape of the modern world that much of what we now take for granted may be traced directly to him, the quirky genius of Wittenberg.”

Yet if we drill to the core we have a simple objective that he wanted – to give to all the freedom of the Gospel won for us by Christ on the cross and for the church to “teach how we are to become free from our sin, obtain a good conscience, and win a peaceful and joyful heart. That is what really counts.” Luther’s Works Vol 40.