Monday, October 8, 2012

Divine Dot to Dot Revisited

*I first wrote this last year, for Columbus Day. Since I have a whole lot more readers now than then, I figured a good dusting off and revisiting would do it good. Enjoy!

It's October (I just thought I'd remind you of that in case you had forgotten). More specifically, it's Columbus Day.

Now, as a kid, I was not a big fan of Columbus Day. It is a postal holiday, which means no mail is delivered. Not a big deal...unless your birthday always falls within a week of Columbus Day. And you are eagerly checking the mail everyday for birthday cards.

Then it kind of sucks. But, I've grown up and gotten past that.

Each October I try to cover two major October historical events with my kids-"Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492" and Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Columbus Day (obviously) and Reformation Day (10/31) respectively.

I have a term that I like to use in connection with history and teaching, "connecting the dots." How does everything work together? Is there a connection between Martin Luther and Christopher Columbus? I think so. It is sometimes called "6 degrees of separation." So here it goes...

-Christopher Columbus...sailed the ocean blue in 1492, being financed by Isabel of Castile. He claimed the lands he discovered for Spain and Isabel.

-Isabel of Castile...a devout Catholic that passed the Alhambra decree expelling Jews and Muslims from the Spains if they didn't convert to Catholicism. She was instrumental in establishing the Spanish Inquisition whose goal was surveillance of the faithful and punishing transgressors. She felt it her divine mission to help all wayward people, including the indigenous peoples of the New World, convert to the Catholic faith so they wouldn't end up in hell. She passed on that vision to two of her prominent grandchildren-Bloody Mary, and Philip II. Isabel was mother to...

-Juana the Mad-the mother of the Holy Roman Emperor CharlesV, also king of the Spains. Another famous daughter of Isabel was Catherine of Aragon.

-Catherine of Aragon...first wife of HenryVIII-that would be first of six. After producing no male heirs for Henry, he sought to get their marriage annulled.

-Charles V...The Holy Roman emperor, sacked Rome, and imprisoned the current pope-Pope Clement VII, who in his own connection was unlikely to annul the marriage of the emperor's aunt.

-Henry 1521 wrote a book attacking Martin Luther's views on the Catholic church. Pope Leo X named him "defender of the faith." Which consequently changed about 10 years later as Henry was pushing for the annulment from Catherine, so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

-Anne Boleyn...the Howards and Boleyns were prominent Protestant families. Anne became a heroine to the new wave of Protestants following Martin Luther. She was beheaded to make room for Jane Seymour.

-Jane Seymour...was raised a pious Catholic. She had been a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, and supported both Catherine (who had died before Jane became Henry's wife) and Mary, Catherine's daughter. Obviously, this wouldn't have been Martin Luther's most popular time in England.

-Martin Luther...a former Catholic monk, who gloriously came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, by grace, not works, through faith. In 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. His Theses were protesting the sale of indulgences as a way to fund the church and "buy" eternal life. His life long message after conversion was that salvation is by grace through faith and apart from works. Martin Luther has a pretty good relationship with Charles V because he supported the Emperor's war on the Turks. After Martin Luther was dead and buried, Charles V kept his soldiers from desecrating his grave when they were visiting Wittenberg.

The interesting thing is that Martin Luther and Henry VIII both advanced the Protestant movement, though for very different reasons. Off and on, for the next 100 years Catholicism and Protestantism took turns being supported and then persecuted by the English monarchs.

Philip II of Spain made no pretense of supporting true believers-people who believed, like Martin Luther, that the Bible teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He chased them down throughout his realm, and warred on the Netherlands, propagating Catholicism.

And as persecution surged in waves against believers throughout that century, it culminated in 1620 by the Pilgrims seeking political and religious refuge in Christopher Columbus' New World.

That connects the dots, bringing them full circle. Each of these people and circumstances could be considered a dot. But what would you call the connection?

Personally, I'd call it the sovereignty of God. God is the supreme ruler, over all people, time, and nations. He has His plan that He is working out. He is in control, though He allows each of us to make our own decisions.

Then He takes those decisions-the good, bad and the ugly-and uses it to further His plan. To change Christians to be like Jesus Christ in character and action, and to bring glory to Himself. All those connected dots make up God's big picture.

And that blows all other dot to dots out of the water! Happy Columbus Day!

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