Up-front heroes are often seen as being larger than life. Overstated. That's unfortunate.
Because they are public figures, folks think of them as broad-shouldered giants who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. They are thought of as superpeople possessing endless strength, limitless vision, relentless determination, effortless skills, and matchless charisma. Their courage is legendary. Their words drip with eloquence. Their endorsements carry weight. Their presence, well, it's like a touch o' magic. It's an exaggeration, you understand, but . . .
So it goes with certain callings . . . strong-voiced, often multitalented leaders, whose names become quotable points of reference. Their opinions and their decisions stand out, almost as if they possess an inside track to pristine truth. Agree with it or not, we still need some who can take the lead and set the pace. Big shoes must be filled.
And that is certainly the way it was with Martin Luther.
You and I cannot think of the Reformation without mentioning that name. What Henry Ford was to the auto industry, what Ben Franklin was to electricity, what George Halas was to professional football, what Albert Einstein was to nuclear physics, Martin Luther was to the Protestant Reformation. What a man. What a model! What a maverick! The classic shaker and mover.
I am born to fight against innumerable monsters and devils. I must remove stumps and stones, cut away thistles and thorns, and clear the wild forest.
Vintage Luther. Prophetlike hero talk. With sweeping statements to match his gestures, the mighty monk of Wittenberg set fire to slumbering saints all across Germany as he vigorously fanned the flame, shouting, "Heresy . . . heresy!" While prelates frowned and popes condemned, the hero kept them buzzing and forever off balance. Brushfires from his abusive language, his private debates and public disputes resulted finally in Luther's excommunication. But his exit was like his entrance, alone . . . independent . . . invincible. He needed no one but God to lean on.
Or did he?
We'll discover the surprising answer to that question in Part Two.