Rev. Matthew Harrison, the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, discusses a letter President James Madison sent to a Lutheran pastor in 1821 upon reading one of his sermons:
It is a pleasing and persuasive example of pious zeal, united with pure benevolence and of a cordial attachment to a particular creed, untinctured with sectarian illiberality. It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
President Harrison then goes on to give a very clear and perceptive explanation of the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which Madison was picking up on, which gives an alternative both to the view that the church should try to rule the world and the view that Christians should withdraw from that world. [Read more...]
I’ve been reading various cultural critiques of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, and several put the blame on the Reformation. The Reformation gave us radical individualism! The Reformation gave us the notion that truth is whatever we interpret it to be! The Reformation drained the physical world of its spiritual significance! The Reformation drained the social world of its spiritual significance! The Reformation shattered the Church! The Reformation shattered Christendom!
Luther gets blamed for all of this, even though most of the critics assume that he believed the same things that Calvin did and so confuse the two. Scholars who know better than that still often differ in the way they portray Luther. Some present him as the first modern man. Others, more recently, present him more as the last medieval man. [Read more...]
In working on an article about vocation, I was looking for the source of Luther’s famous saying about the holiness of changing diapers. I found his sermon “The Estate of Marriage” (1522) posted online here. A priceless excerpt:
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? 0 you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful. carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.” [Read more...]