“We are beggars; this is true”

The Reformation can be summed up in six words, according to our pastor in his Reformation Day sermon last Sunday.  Not the solas, not some version of “Here I stand,” but the words written down on a scrap of paper that Luther had in his pocket on his deathbed:  “We are beggars; this is true.”  After the jump, read what Pastor Douthwaite says about these words. [Read more...]

Luther on Learning

Thanks to Prof. Scott Ashmon of Concordia University Irvine for yet another great quote, this one from Martin Luther:

“How dare you not know what can be known?”

(Quoted in Robert Benne, “A Lutheran Vision/Version of Christian Humanism” Lutheran Forum 31 (1997): 42.)  [Does anybody know the source in Luther's Works? Or is this one of those apocryphal sayings of Luther?  Even if so, it's still a great line, an explosion of Christian anti-intellectualism.]

How might this principle be applied?

The Freedom of a Christian

What’s the best book by Martin Luther to start with?  The answer is simple:   The Freedom of a Christian.  This is Luther at his very best, both in the brilliance of his writing and in his penetrating insight into the Word of God, the Gospel, and the Christian life.   “Freedom” lacks the harsh polemics that so often turns off modern readers, though all sides practiced it in the 16th century.  Like the best works of theology, it is stimulating both intellectually and spiritually and reading it is a profoundly devotional experience.  (Calvinists want you to start with the Bondage of the Will, which, they think, makes Luther sound like Calvin, though, as commentator Larry keeps pointing out,  really isn’t so.)

Most of all, “Freedom” gives us the most exhilarating applications of the Gospel, including Luther’s teachings on how Christians are simultaneously saints and sinners, that we are simultaneously free lords of all and servants of all, that the Christian life involves loving and serving our neighbors, that we are to be “little Christs” to each other, etc., etc.  (The book has recently been released in a new modern translation by Ed Engelbrecht from CPH:  Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love.)  I bring this up because of a fascinating post from Mathew Block (head of communications at the Lutheran Church-Canada, which which the LCMS is in fellowship) at the First Things blog. [Read more...]

An opera about Katie Luther

Remember Lori Lewis, who used to be a frequent commenter on this blog?  She is a musician who used to be involved with the contemporary Christian music scene, discovered confessional Lutheranism, and became a critic of that genre.  Now she’s a professional opera singer (as well as the mind behind the online lifestyle and arts magazine Everyday Opera).  Her latest project:  an opera about Katharine von Bora, the fascinating wife of Martin Luther.

[Read more...]

Luther memes

I stumbled upon He Rice Tanned (read it fast), a collection of sometimes humorous Luther memes.  Samples after the jump.  (If you know of others, or other Christian-related, or other good ones of any kind, let us know in the comments.) [Read more...]

Luther on dogs

Last week we were on Spring Break, visiting our daughter, son-in-law, and three grand-daughters in Oklahoma.  Here we were privileged to witness one of their family milestones:  getting their first dog.  A bouncing, excited, affectionate Labrador retriever.

It made me recall that Luther was a dog-lover.  He had a dog named Tölpel (which was apparently a synonym for “Dummkopf”).  I love this quotation:

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”

Think about that!  God’s greatest gifts are the commonest.  But because they are so common, we take them for granted.  Yes, dogs.  But what else?  (Having children.  One’s spouse.  Food and drink.  Colors.  Reading.  Baptism.  The Lord’s Supper, and on and on and on.)

More quotes from Luther about dogs after the jump. [Read more...]


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