Luther quotes that Luther didn’t say

Justin Taylor has a useful post entitled 6 Quotes that Luther Didn’t Actually Say.  After the jump, see what they are.  (To be fair, some of them are close to what he said, as loose translations or summaries.  And what he attributes to me on the “wise Turk” quote actually comes from the regular  commenter here Carl Vehse, who has done quite a bit of work in tracing such apocryphal quotations.) [Read more...]

Luther and bowling?

Martin Luther’s influence goes far beyond the theology of the Lutheran Church.  His putting the Gospel and the Word of God at the center was the catalyst for all Protestantism.  But even his theological opponents have accepted his ideas like worship in the vernacular, congregational singing, and vernacular translations of the Bible.  Then there are his cultural contributions:  universal education, standardizing the German language, vocation.  But there are also things he is credited for that are questionable or uncertain, like inventing the Christmas tree.  And there are things that that he is credited for that are just wrong, like writing “Away in the Manger” and being the source of German anti-semitism.  Being a master of language, he is supremely quotable on all kinds of subjects.  But he is also cited as the source of things that he never really said (such as the “Wise Turk” quote).  I have recently learned that Luther is considered one of the inventors of bowling!  [Read more...]

A day of two Martins

Today is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, which is appropriate since he–an ex-Roman soldier who became a heretic-fighting bishop– is the patron saint of soldiers and this is Veterans Day.  Nice how that worked out, since St. Martin’s day has been observed for centuries before Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I which officially concluded on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918; that is, on November 11.  That event, still celebrated as such in many countries, was broadened into the American Veterans Day.

Martin Luther’s birthday was yesterday, but today is his Baptism day.  A common practice back then was to name a child after the saint whose day it was when the baby was born or baptized.  So that’s why baby Luther was named Martin.

Today is a day to honor soldiers, including soldiers of the Cross.

HT:  Jackie

“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...]


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