In protestantism we seem to think that there is a blank between Paul’s death and Luther’s reformation. It is deplorable that we should so deliberately waive a good part of our Christian heritage.
We do the same with the saints of Christendom. True, Luther relentlessly fought the thoughtless imitation of holy hermits, when thousands used to leave their families and daily duties and seek the real Christian life in extraordinary experience and far-away places. Also, the Reformers declared that there is nothing in Scripture about praying to the saints, thus making them minor saviours. However, they also state that the saints should be examples for us. With that balance Luther recommended study of their lives.
The later Protestant milieu abandoned the balance, and in the tussles with Roman Catholicism abolished acquaintance with the saints altogether. With this we lost much encouragement and instruction for our own life of discipleship and sanctification. Evangelicals need to recover the example of the great saints of Christendom.
I wish to introduce readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY to a man who truly is a saint for our time: Charles de Foucauld, the French nobleman and priest who, born in 1858, died a violent death in the Sahara desert in 1916.
This man is particularly worth listening to. He consciously returned from secularism to belief. Having lost his faith early on he led a life of license and debauchery (not infrequently the result of human autonomy), so much so that he was dishonorably discharged from service as an officer of the French army. Appalled after some time by the prospect of a life without purpose, he threw himself into geography and became one of the daring first explorers of Morocco, then hostile to foreigners, ...1
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