The Pope’s preacher says Luther was right

British religion reporter Christopher Howse tells about a sermon from Pope Benedict XVI ‘s preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, that basically concedes that Luther was right on justification.  Well, sort of.

This was in the context of the Joint Declaration on Justification between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.  We confessional Lutherans deny that this accord was a true agreement, but this sermon–published in the book Remember Jesus Christ–faults Catholics for neglecting justification.  Howse’s discussion, however, also shows the differences that remain.

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See this Lucas Cranach video

In Germany there is a big revival of interest in Lucas Cranach as an artist.  You have got to see this video based on an exhibit in Weimar.  It includes remarkable closeups of Cranach’s famous altarpiece in the Weimar church, the one with the artist’s self-portrait inserted into a Crucifixion scene, with Christ’s blood–thanks to Luther’s preaching and what happens in Holy Communion at this altar–arcing onto the artist’s head.

See the video after the jump.  It’s in German, but that doesn’t matter!  (Those of you who understand German, please tell us some of the points made in the video.) [Read more...]

Get your “Little Luther”

As we blogged about earlier, Playmobil’s biggest selling toy figure of all time is their new rendition of Martin Luther.   Now it is going on sale in the United States.   See how to get one after the jump.

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Luther on sex

The younger generation, as has been said, always thinks that it has invented sex.  And those who “don’t know much about history” seem to think that sex and sexual issues are contemporary phenomena.  So the editors at Salon are giddy to learn what Martin Luther wrote about sex.

Reading from a new book about Luther that discusses the reformer’s critique of mandatory celibacy for those in religious orders, his criticism of canon laws restricting and regulating marriage, and his defense of marriage as a vocation–which has to include a defense of its defining action–Salon reprints an excerpt  under the headline “Martin Luther’s pro-sex shocker” and the deck “Centuries ago, Martin Luther’s ideas were way ahead of their time.”

Well, Luther was advocating marriage and criticizing the sex outside of marriage that was rampant in his time, particularly among those forced into celibacy who lacked that gift.  (Some priests rationalized their use of prostitutes by thinking “at least I’m not married,” so I am merely fornicating and not forsaking my vow.)

True, Luther believed that regulating marriage was the business of the state, not the church, which would put him against those who think we should just leave marriage to the church and keep the state out of it.  And he was rethinking what the parameters about divorce, etc., should be in the absence of canon law.  But his frank talk about sex is not “ahead of his time,” as anyone who reads old books can attest.  People weren’t squeamish about talking about the subject until the Victorian era of the 19th century.

Anyway, his views are interesting, so I link to and quote from Salon’s sampling from James Reston’s new book.

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Luther’s notes to “Freedom of a Christian” discovered

A first edition of Luther’s classic treatise “The Freedom of a Christian,” dated 1520, has been discovered in a library in France.  It contains annotations in red ink in Luther’s hand, indicating the changes he wanted to make in future editions.  As far as I can tell, those annotations have not yet been published, but we should watch for them.

Thanks to Anthony Sacramone for drawing this to my attention.  Read his discussion of this find and of the book itself.   If you only read one book by Luther, read this one.  It is Luther at his very best, unpacking the Gospel, the freedom we have in Christ, his neighbor-centered ethic, and vocation. [Read more...]

“God is in every syllable”

Popular author James Reston, Jr., has written a book entitled Luther’s Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege, about Luther’s time in Wartburg Castle, when he was in hiding from the Emperor’s death sentence.  Here he began his translation of the Bible.  It took him a mere 10 weeks to translate the New Testament.

After the jump, a link and an excerpt to Reston’s revealing discussion about Luther’s translation, his method and his approach, including a comparison with the King James translation, which took 48 translators 10 years. [Read more...]