Posts tagged “Luther

Little apples for simpletons

Posted on July 19th, 2016

Browsing some commentary on the recently completed LCMS Convention, I came across a thread on the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau forum. An ELCA pastor, Brian Stoffregan (whom I do not know), makes an interesting statement there about Holy Scripture: “The academy is necessary to help us understand the meaning of the texts, which can be different from what they say.” Granted that he’s talking about the importance of understanding Scripture in context, I find this notion deeply troubling, and perhaps the single greatest difference between our church bodies. One of my axioms is if you have to add words to Scripture to explain why it doesn’t mean what it clearly sounds like, you’ve got the wrong interpretation. Today’s reading in the Luther Brevier takes a different approach: the…

Faith and Good Works

Posted on April 15th, 2016

A gem from Luther on faith and good works:   Faith is something living, something active…. Faith is not an idle, loose thought…. There is something busy, active, and powerful about Faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do Good Works without ceasing. Faith does not ask if Good Works need to be done. It has already done them and is still doing them before even being asked. Luther Brevier, p122

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…

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

Sermo Dei: Baptism of Our Lord 2015

Posted on January 16th, 2015

Approaching the waters, Jesus announces, “I am a sinner.” John knows better. “No You are not. While in the waters of my mother’s womb I leaped for joy, for the Righteous One has come at last.” Still Jesus approaches Jordan’s banks. “I am a sinner.” John replies, “Is this some kind of trick? I need to be baptized by You.” But Jesus insists. Descending into the waters, the sinless One becomes sinner, Life is steeped in death. The logic of the Logos, the orderliness of the Word descends into disorder, chaos. Into Himself Jesus absorbs all that is broken. He drinks in your pain, He soaks in your sorrow. It is as though every tear streaming from bitter eyes, every drop of blood spilled…

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…

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…

Only the Decalogue is eternal

Posted on November 20th, 2014

In the First Disputation Against the Antinomians, Luther addresses the antinomian argument that the Ten Commandments are abrogated with the coming of Christ in the same way that circumcision (as a ceremonial requirement) has been abrogated. The Decalogue, however, is greater and better because it is written in the hearts and minds of all and will remain with us even in the coming life. Yet not so circumcision, as baptism also will not remain, but only the Decalogue is eternal—as such, that is, not as law—because in the coming life things will be like what the Decalogue has been demanding here. Only the Decalogue Is Eternal, p75