«Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit» (Proverbs 18:21).
Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) was a brilliant humanist, linguist, philosopher, and Dutch theologian who was ahead of his time. His perceptions were far above his contemporaries. He soon occupied a space of great influence in the academic environment. He became regarded as the king among the scholars, as he combined his genius with classical culture, his biblical knowledge, his vivid imagination, his penetrating discernment, and his refined language. In fact, no human being had attained such a level of knowledge in the Republic of Letters.
Erasmus strove to bring linguistic studies closer to science. His translations of the New Testament turned him into an authority on hermeneutical issues. Through his contributions, he did more than any of his contemporaries to prepare the ground toward the development of the Protestant Reformation through the impulse which it gave to the study of the classical texts, biblical and patrological, as well as his satirical exhibitions of ecclesiastical abuse, the ignorance of the clergy, and religious fanaticism. Erasmus’s criticism of the hierarchies and the powerful of his time aroused concerns in several minds, including that of Martin Luther.
The outbreak of the Reform in Germany shook a good number of areas in Europe. Many people directed their attention toward Erasmus. Which side was he going to support? Would he support the reformers or the papists? But he decided to halt and remain in an unacceptable neutrality toward both sides, which directed strong criticism toward him. He appeared as a coward and disloyal. He even felt prompted to write some words against the ideas of Luther, who responded to him with bravery. His prestige and good name were very much harmed. That filled him with sadness and bitterness during his last years.
It is possible that a mind as brilliant as that of Erasmus did not deserve the treatment of which it was subjected to. However, he was caught in a crossfire between Catholics and Protestants of which he did not know how to come out of it well, perhaps because one cannot remain neutral in matters of faith.
Up to what point is it prudent to speak and launch complaints? Are you ready to defend your positions if you are required to explain them? Are you going to hold back your words in front of everyone? Do you realize that there will be times when circumstances will lead you to opt toward a certain point of view? You may get to a point where indecision is not the most prudent. Will you be prepared when that happens?
Ask the Lord today to help you make the best decisions when expressing your ideas.