Posts from the “Theology” Category

Bad preachers are lucky

Posted on June 23rd, 2015

From a letter of Dr. Luther to Phillip Melanchthon: Bad preachers are lucky because every one bears with them and puts up with their stupidity. Even if people immediately sense or see that these preachers are crass fools, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest and people think no worse of them for all that. But the opposite is the case for true teachers, people lie in wait when listening to their words or watching their works as if ready to pounce. And where they can find the smallest splinter (even if it is only an apparent one), they make a huge beam out of it. This is not a case of patience, but vain judgment, detraction and contempt. This is why the lot…

The greatest and most useful work

Posted on June 3rd, 2015

Dr. Luther on child-rearing: Married people should know that there is no greater and more useful work than they might do for God, Christendom, the rest of the world, themselves and their children than to bring up their children correctly. For this is the most direct path to Heaven…. But, likewise, there is no easier way to earn Hell than through your own children. There is no more damaging work that could be done by parents than to neglect their children, to let them curse, swear, learn shameful words and songs and to let them live according to their own will…. There is no greater scandal in Christendom than the neglect of children…. A false love of nature blinds parents, so that they give…

The Reformation’s Special Character

Posted on April 28th, 2015

In his magnificent analysis of the Confessions, Holsten Fagerberg highlights the “Reformation’s twofold intention”: To let the Word of God reign, but in the light of the tradition whose roots go back all the way to the protevangelium of the Old Testament, and which has been preached to successive generations with varying degrees of success and power ever since. Against this background the Lutheran Reformation developed its special character of preserving and reforming at one and the same time. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537) (Kindle Locations 1204-1207)   We live in an era where both what was preserved by the first Reformers, and what was reformed, has been lost or abused beyond recognition. Our goal is not to repristinate the sixteenth-century…

Faith wages war

Posted on March 26th, 2015

Luther is no ally of the reductionist “Lutheranism” that is again claiming his name as a cloak for vice. Here Luther comments on 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”: Even is some one has been justified by faith, he will certainly not be free of evil desires. That is why the spirit has its work cut out in quenching and quelling the desires of the flesh. The spirit has to struggle with this area unceasingly and to take care that the spirit does not offend the faith. That is also why people are deceiving themselves when they say there is no danger if they obey the desires of the…

Contempt for the Gospel

Posted on February 24th, 2015

Doctor Luther on the misuse of the Gospel: It should be said and taught that the old leaven must be completely swept aside and that those who give into the whims of the flesh and deliberately and against their own conscience obstinately remain in their sins are not Christians nor do they have the faith. What is to be condemned all the more is when people do this in the name of and under the cover of the Gospel and of Christian freedom. For this shows contempt for and blasphemes against the name of Christ and the Gospel. Luther Brevier, p70

Paying lip-service to the gospel

Posted on January 14th, 2015

In the following passage, Luther expounds on the words of 1 John 3:18, “My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The apostle is denouncing those false brothers and hypocritical Christians who only pay lip-service to the Gospel. They retain just the froth together with their presumption that faith and the Gospel are a mere matter of words … yet they believe that no-one else is as zealous as they are. You can see that their doctrines are mere husks and empty shells from the way these people conduct their lives. They have no intention of living in accordance with the Gospel nor do they intend to demonstrate Christian love to show that they…

Making one what was broken

Posted on January 7th, 2015

I love how Augustine finds the four corners of the world in ADAM, along with the hope that the first-formed is gathered in on the day of judgment: “For with righteousness shall He judge the world:” not a part of it, for He bought not a part: He will judge the whole, for it was the whole of which He paid the price. Ye have heard the Gospel, where it saith, that when He cometh, “He shall gather together His elect from the four winds.” He gathereth all His elect from the four winds: therefore from the whole world. For Adam himself (this I had said before) signifieth in Greek the whole world; for there are four letters, A, D, A, and M. But as…

God of the grasshoppers

Posted on December 24th, 2014

Isaiah pictures God sitting above the world, while we beneath Him appear like grasshoppers, small and numerous (Is. 40.22). Perhaps you’ve smashed a grasshopper before, an annoying creature who invaded your home. But He does not smash us. He comes down among us, comes to our home, makes His bed among the grasshoppers. Every single one, to Him, is significant. He comes to save us.

Christ in us by nature and substance

Posted on November 21st, 2014

In his great work That These Words of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics, the mature Luther speaks beautifully about the sacramental union effecting a real union (and not merely a metaphorical union or forensic identification) between Christ and the believer. In the section beginning on page 120 (AE 37), he focuses on St. Hilary of Poitiers, whom Luther calls one “of the ancient doctors and an excellent interpreter of Scripture.” Hilary writes, If the Word has truly become flesh, and we truly receive the Word which became flesh in the Lord’s food, how are we to believe that he does not dwell in us by his nature, he who, when he became man, has assumed the nature of…