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Archive for the ‘Luther’ Category

Another interesting post from cyberbrethren.com.  Enjoy!

Lutheran theologian Hermann Sasse answers the question well:

“Why is Luther the greatest in what has been a long line of teachers in the church who have proclaimed the Word of God from generation to generation? It is because none of the others understood the Word of God so profoundly. The Word of God is greater than human words, which have limitations. The time will come when nobody remembers Homer, or Shakespeare or Goethe, but the Word of God will endure forever. Human words can certainly accomplish much – the command of a powerful ruler or of a general can decide the fate of nations, but sooner or later their power ceases to be. No mere human word is almighty. But God’s Word is always living and active because it is the Word of the eternal, almighty God, the Word through which all things were created. It is the Word of the Judge of all who live. It is the Word of forgiveness, the Word of redemption, the Word which no human word can contradict. It is the Word which, as John says, has become flesh in Jesus Christ. He is himself the eternal Word of God; ‘his name’, it is written in Revelation (19:13), ‘is called the Word of God’. To proclaim the Word of God is to proclaim Jesus Christ. ‘To him all of the prophets bear witness’, according to the apostle Peter (Acts 10:43). ‘We preach Christ crucified’ says Paul in regard to the preaching of the apostles (1 Cor 1:23). He, Jesus Christ, is the content of the church’s preaching – that he is the Redeemer and the Lord is the proclamation of the teachers of the church from its very beginning. That is the message which has been handed down from one generation to another. The proclaimers come and go, but the proclamation itself remains the same: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. That and nothing else is the content of the Christian proclamation. Luther again and again reminded the church of this – a church which had forgotten it, and indeed which had almost buried the one Word of God under so many human words of religion and philosophy.

Luther is one of the great Christologists, the great witnesses to Christ in the church. Like the great theologians of the early church – an Irenaeus or an Athanasius – he stood in reverence before the great mystery of God’s revelation: ‘the Word became flesh’ (John 1:14); ‘great is the mystery of godliness, that God was manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16). All of his life Luther stood prayerfully and reverently before the incomprehensible mystery of the person of Jesus Christ, ‘where God and man meet and all fullness appears’. What the Greek fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries acquired by deep study of Holy Scripture with reverent and prayerful meditation, what the ancient church confessed in her ecumenical councils and stated contrary to the reasoning of philosophy – that Jesus Christ is true God, God from God, Light from Light, very God of very God, of one being with the Father, and at the same time true man – Luther thought through these powerful truths and took them even further in his theology in connection with the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. However, he tried to speak of these things so clearly and simply that even the simplest Christian – yes, even a child – could grasp them. ‘He whom the world could not contain, lies on Mary’s lap. He who upholds all things becomes a little child’. That is the teaching of Nicea. Or we think of how Luther expressed the doctrine of Chalcedon, the teaching of the two natures of Christ, in his catechism – ‘I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord…’ This explanation of the second article of the creed has been called by some the most beautiful sentence in the German language – it is the most beautiful sentence in the German language, but not only because of its structure, which reveals a master of language, but also because of its content. Here we find the eternal Word of God, the eternal Gospel: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

From a sermon given on Reformation Day 1943 in Erlangen, Germany.

 

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“Here I Stand”

A great video clip from the recent  “Luther” movie.  This piece is titled, “Here I stand.”

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Luther My Homeboy

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The Lutheran Confessions are Pastoral

The constant drum beat throughout them is the goal of comforting and caring for souls. The Lutheran Confessions are not theological speculations or abstractions. The times in which it was written called for pastoral care on a scale that could only be compared to a national emergency. Souls bruised and bullied by legalisms and demands placed on them outside of and beyond the Sacred Scriptures were healed by the healing and life-giving Gospel. Persons who were not hearing the comforting promises of the Holy Gospel, the free and full forgiveness of all salvation through Christ, received the mercy of God as they heard of the Savior who loved them and died and rose for them. The Lutheran Confessions speak to us today because they speak of the most important issues any of us ever face in our life. Who am I? What is life’s meaning? Who do I know God? Am I loved? How can I be sure? What am I do to with my life?

The Lutheran Confessions are Practical

They go right to the heart of the key issues and, even in spite of the length of some articles in them, never wander off on side paths. It is a book on a mission and that is to deliver the Gospel: purely, cleanly, correctly and practically, again, for the care of souls. They are not journal articles indulging in scholarly pursuits, or the pet interests of their authors in the pursuit of credibility and respect in the academic community. The Confessions are practical resources for people’s faith and life, as they live and especially, as they die. Why? Because the golden thread running throughout them is the chief and most important teaching of the Christian faith: justification by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, the teaching drawn from Scripture, alone: the Gospel.

The Lutheran Confessions are Personal

The Book of Concord was written by people who had deep and long first-hand experience with the various theological ills they are decrying and had first-hand knowledge of just how powerfully comforting and consoling the Gospel is. Therefore, for example, when you read about monasticism in this book, always behind these discussions stands the man who spent well over a decade of his life in this lifestyle, tortured and tormented no end by the lack of Gospel: Martin Luther. The book could almost be said to be a spiritual autobiography of all those who contributed to it. They are not dispassionate scientific essays. They are not mystical and obscure texts. They are personal statements of faith expressed on behalf of the Church, and for the Church, in order to gather more and more into the Church.

Those are three reasons why I am so passionate about the Book of Concord.

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Get used to believing that Christ is a real Savior and that you are a real sinner. For God is neither joking nor is He dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was deadly serious when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sake, etc. (Romans 8:32John 3:16). Satan – who is alive and well – has snatched these and similar reflections, which come from soothing Bible passages, from you memory. Therefore, you are not able to recall them in your present great anguish and depression. For God’s sake, then, turn your ears my way, brother, and hear me cheerfully sing. I am your brother. At this time I am not afflicted with the desperation and depression that is oppressing you. Therefore, I am strong in my faith. The reason I am strong in the faith – while you are weak and harried and harassed by the devil – is that you may lean on me for support until you regain your old strength.

Letter from Martin Luther to George Spalatin, quoted in in Walther’s Law and Gospel, CPH 2010, p. 120.

Source for quote: St. Louis Edition of Luther’s Works 10:1730.

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I found this today from cyberbrethren.com.  Happy Anniversary!

Before we go further we need to clear up a common misconception. While insisting on the truth of Lutheranism, we can never allow ourselves to do so in an arrogant, haughty or self-righteous manner. People who are passionate about the truth of Biblical Lutheranism know that the Bible teaches often and clearly that we are all sinful human beings in need of God’s constant mercy, which He so lavishly gives in Christ. To be truly Lutheran is to receive the gifts of God with humility, repentantly recognizing our great need. It is tempting for Lutherans to be proud and arrogant of their great heritage, but this is a terrible evil! To be Lutheran is to be always mindful of our great sin and our great need for a Savior. To be a Lutheran is to be a sinner calling out to fellow sinners, “Come and see!” Furthermore, we would never want anyone to think that we Lutherans are saying, “We, and we alone, are the only ones who will be in heaven. In fact, you can’t be a Christian unless you are a Lutheran.” Not so! Not at all. We realize that the Word of God is powerful and active, wherever and whenever it is heard, read or meditated on. There are many Christians in other denominations and churches. They are not Christians because of the errors in their churches, but in spite of those errors. Let’s then have none say, “You Lutherans think you alone are Christians.” We have never said that, we have never believed it, and we never will. The reason we insist on Lutheranism for everyone who will listen is because we believe so passionately that it truly is the most correct and most accurate understanding of the Word of God. (more…)

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Scholars enjoy trying to debunk things that have been believed for a long time. Academic mythbusting is an important pursuit, but often, becomes an end in itself that ultimately serves only to advance the career, and bolster the ego, of the particular scholar making the latest and greatest claims of “new findings.” The question of whether or not Luther actually did nail his theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg has been debated for many years. Reputable scholars have, in more recent decades, moved back to a position affirming that it actually did happen. A book by the noted scholar Kurt Aland makes a good case for the historicity of the event: Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. I was poking around on the Internet and bumped into even more recent findings that affirm it happened. I’m not sure how I missed this when the news was first announced a few years back, but better late than never. Here is the report by Dr Martin Treu, which offers a tantalizing insight: Luther posted the these both on the Castle Church door as well as on the doors of the city church: St. Mary’s:

In 1961, the Catholic Luther researcher Erwin Iserloh realized that in all the works and letters of the Reformer he nowhere explicitly mentioned nailing his 95 theses to the door on October 31, 1517. Philipp Melanchthon was the first to mention it in the preface to the first volume of Luther’s Collected Works in 1546. But by then Luther was already dead. Melanchthon only came to Wittenberg in 1518, and so could not have been an eye-witness. So Iserloh concluded that the theses had never been nailed to the door, and began a huge debate, which has still not been brought to a final conclusion.

In 2006, Martin Treu from the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony- Anhalt rediscovered a handwritten comment by Luther’s secretary Georg Rörer (1492-1557) in the Jena University and State Library, which although printed, had so far played no role in research. Right at the end of the desk copy for the revision of the New Testament in 1540, Rörer made the following note: „On the evening before All Saints’ Day in the year of our Lord 1517, theses about letters of indulgence were nailed to the doors of the Wittenberg churches by Doctor Martin Luther.”

Now Rörer was also not an eye-witness, but he was one of Luther’s closest staff. The copy of the New Testament, in which he made his note, contains many entries in Luther’s own hand. The note right at the end of the volume leads us to assume that it was made at the conclusion of the revision work in November 1544. Directly beside it is another note, according to which Philipp Melanchthon arrived in Wittenberg on August 20, 1518, at ten o’ clock in the morning. This information is not to be found anywhere else and presumably came directly from Melanchthon himself. Rörer’s reference to the Wittenberg churches in the plural must be emphasized, as it corresponds to the statutes of the university. According to these, all public announcements had to be nailed to the doors of the churches.

While this does not give final proof of the theses being nailed to the door, together with Rörer’s note it seems much more probable. It is at least so far the oldest source for it from the time when Luther was still alive. And: Wittenberg now has more than one “Theses Door”.

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