Resources for Luther (Sunday School)

Because I may need this later, I wanted to break my usual Sunday fast of blogging and post a few things.

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

Martin Luther – drunk theologian, gossiper, and oath-breaker. Also, he hated your favorite animal

First, I of all of Luther’s works, the most recommended for small group study is On Christian Freedom (or The Liberty of the Christian). You can find a nice public domain copy here. That’s right, by a Jesuit school. I bet Luther is spinning over in purgatory right now.

Here are some points to take away from his small, dualist, letter.

…Man has a twofold nature, a spiritual and a bodily. According to the spiritual nature, which men call the soul, he is called a spiritual, or inner, or new man; according to the bodily nature, which men call the flesh, he is called a carnal, or outward, or old man, of whom the Apostle writes, in II Cor. iv, “Though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Because of this diversity of nature the Scriptures assert contradictory things of the same man, since the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh (Gal. v)….

And, of course, his 95 Theses. Because he was a blowhard who couldn’t leave well-enough alone.

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You might be a Lutheran if…

…you only serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color for the season.

…you didn’t know chow mein noodles were a Chinese food.

…when someone mentions red and green (in terms of Christmas), you immediately think of a battle over hymnals.

…during the entire service you hold your hymnal open but never look down at it.

…during communion you hum the hymns so you can see who’s at church that Sunday.

…rather than introducing yourself to a visitor at church, you check their name out in the guestbook.

…you think Garrison Keillor’s stories are totally factual.

…you have your wedding reception in the fellowship hall and feel guilty about not staying to help clean up.

…a midlife crisis means switching from the old hymnbook to the new one.

…you forget to put water in the baptismal font but never forget to put water in the coffee pot.

…the pastor skips the last hymn to make sure church lasts exactly 60 minutes.

…you make spaghetti at your house with the little macaroni noodles because they’re not so messy then.

…you don’t make eye contact when passing someone in the hall because you think it’s impolite.

…your choir believes volume is a fair substitute for tonality.

…you don’t know what was sooo funny about dat movie “Fargo” then.

…in response to someone jumping up and shouting “Praise the Lord!”, you politely remind him or her that we don’t do that around here.

…you think a meeting isn’t legitimate unless it’s at least three hours long.

…peas in your tuna noodle hotdish add too much color.

…you make change in the offering plate for a ten.

…your dad’s name is Luther N., your brother is Luther Hahn and you are Lew Theran.

…you think butter is a spice.

…the church is on fire, and you rush in to save the coffee pot.

…you have more than five flavors of Jell-O in your pantry.

…you know what a “dead spread” is.

…you talk to someone else and look at their shoes first.

…you have more than three friends whose first names have the letter “j” as the second letter.

…the only open pew is up front, so you volunteer to shovel the sidewalk.

…Ole and Lena are really the names of your relatives.

…you know what a Lutheran Church Basement Woman is.

…you give a party and don’t tell anyone where it is.

…you think hotdish is one of the major food groups.

… is one of your bookmarks.

…your five-year-old recites the Old Testament books as Genesis, Exodus, Lutefisk…

…someone asks you after church if there’s any “decaf coffee” and you laugh because you KNOW that if it doesn’t have caffeine, it can’t be coffee!

…you think anyone who says “casserole” instead of “hotdish” is trying to be uppity (or maybe even Episcopalian!)

…you think the term “Jell-O salad” is redundant.

…you freeze the leftover coffee from fellowship hour for next week. (HT)

Martin Luther – Here I Stand

Martin Luther, for all of his faults, and those who followed him, accomplished more than many who had gone before him. In refusing to bow to logical Tradition, he made a stand which could have cost him his life. Today is Reformation Day. Regardless if you are Reformed or not, today is a day to remember the men and women who turned Western Christianity on it’s head.

‘Unless I am convinced by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments that I am in error – for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves – I cannot withdraw, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the word of God.

It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one’s conscience.

Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise.  So help me God.

95 Theses Nailed to the Door, October 31, 1517

Today is Reformation Day – enjoy.

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.


In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory. (read the rest here)

Heinrich Bullinger, Reformer

Another Reformer, often unknown, was Heinrich Bullinger. Below are a few quotes – feel free to add your own.

“This depravation of our nature is nothing else but the blotting out of God’s image in us.”

“There was in our father Adam before his fall the very image and likeness of God.”

The ineffable mercy and divine grace of the eternal God are proven, first, in that God offers this covenant not in any way because of the merits of humans but rather out of the sheer goodness which is God’s nature. I do not know whether humans are capable of conceiving this mystery fully or conveying how praiseworthy it is (BE 104-105).

To Save Protestantism, should we turn to… Mary?

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most ven...

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most venerated of Orthodox Christian icons of the Virgin Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continuing with a post(al) thought from yesterday, I am reminded that many Reformers allowed for Mary’s place in Christian theology. As we have lost theology, protestantism is dying. Maybe it is because we have lost Mary as well…

Below is a snippet from a page linked before. On this page are several reformers and their views on Mary.

Huldreich Zwingli


He turns, in September 1522, to a lyrical defense of the perpetual virginity of the mother of Christ . . . To deny that Mary remained ‘inviolata’ before, during and after the birth of her Son, was to doubt the omnipotence of God . . . and it was right and profitable to repeat the angelic greeting – not prayer – ‘Hail Mary’ . . . God esteemed Mary above all creatures, including the saints and angels – it was her purity, innocence and invincible faith that mankind must follow. Prayer, however, must be . . . to God alone . . .’Fidei expositio,’ the last pamphlet from his pen . . . There is a special insistence upon the perpetual virginity of Mary.

{G. R. Potter, Zwingli, London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1976, pp.88-9,395 / The Perpetual Virginity of Mary . . ., Sep. 17, 1522}

Zwingli had printed in 1524 a sermon on ‘Mary, ever virgin, mother of God.’

{Thurian, ibid., p.76}

I have never thought, still less taught, or declared publicly, anything concerning the subject of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our salvation, which could be considered dishonourable, impious, unworthy or evil . . . I believe with all my heart according to the word of holy gospel that this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and unsullied virgin, for eternity.

{Thurian, ibid., p.76 / same sermon}

Martin Luther (founder of the reform), speaks on Mary.

So, if the Reformers — these great men of the faith and sublime bowed the knee to Mary as “mother of our salvation,” then do we not need to properly reform ourselves out of our traditions to see what she may yet hold for us?

What is the proper place for Mary in the lives of Protestant Christians?


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John Wesley on enthusiasts and their false witness

Stripped image of John Wesley

Stripped image of John Wesley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are stanzas 18 and 19 of his sermon, linked to below:

A second sort of enthusiasm is that of those who imagine they have such gifts from God as they have not. Thus some have imagined themselves to be endued with a power of working miracles, of healing the sick by a word or a touch, of restoring sight to the blind: yea, even of raising the dead — a notorious instance of which is still fresh in our own history. Others have undertaken to prophesy, to foretell things to come, and that with the utmost certainty and exactness. But a little time usually convinces these enthusiasts. When plain facts run counter to their predictions, experience performs what reason could not, and sinks them down into their senses.

To the same class belong those who, in preaching or prayer, imagine themselves to be so influenced by the Spirit of God, as, in fact, they are not. I am sensible, indeed, that without Him we can do nothing, more especially in our public ministry; that all our preaching is utterly vain, unless it be attended with His power; and all our prayer, unless His Spirit therein help our infirmities. I know, if we do not both preach and pray by the Spirit, it is all but lost labour; seeing the help that is done upon earth He doeth it Himself, who worketh all in all. But this does not affect the case before us. Though there is a real influence of the Spirit of God, there is also an imaginary one: and many there are who mistake the one for the other. Many suppose themselves to be under that influence, when they are not, when it is far from them. And many others suppose they are more under that influence than they really are. Of this number, I fear, are all they who imagine that God dictates the very words they speak; and that, consequently, it is impossible they should speak anything amiss, either as to the matter or manner of it. It is well known how many enthusiasts of this sort also have appeared during the present century; some of whom speak in a far more authoritative manner than either St. Paul or any of the Apostles.

via The Wesley Center Online: Sermon 37 – The Nature Of Enthusiasm.

Be sure to read this one as well.

Discover thyself, thou poor self-deceiver! — thou who art confident of being a child of God; thou who sayest, “I have the witness in myself,” and therefore defiest all thy enemies. Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting; even in the balance of the sanctuary. The word of the Lord hath tried thy soul, and proved thee to be reprobate silver. Thou art not lowly of heart; therefore thou hast not received the Spirit of Jesus unto this day.

Wesley grew throughout his life — something people fail to to realize. Perhaps he had a previous understanding of enthusiasm, but seeing it so enacted by people “barking like dogs” may have changed his mind.

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Review of @ivpacademic’s Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition

I must admit, I love these little books.

After turning friends on to their value, either through Logos or the Pocketref app or even through the tradition hardcopies, these hand-sized books have become a staple in my life. No doubt it is because they cover a wide variety of topics, with each dictionary covering the topic with concise entries easily digestible as a sort of morning devotion.

The Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition covers just that — the Reformed Tradition. Sure, it has one entry on the Reformation, but this is about the Tradition evolving from that moment in history. Because of this, you will see the familiar names (like Luther and Calvin), but so too Karl Barth and the Niebuhrs along with doctrines such as the perspicuity of scripture and dialectical theology. You’ll also get a glimpse into the rather un-ecumenical moments of the Church, such as with the entry Babylonian Captivity. Also included are various Reformed organizations, such as the WARC – the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

These little books come in very handy for building up knowledge rather quickly, and given that many of the entries are cross-linked to other entries, you can almost create a choose-your-own-adventure of learning about the Reformed Tradition.

ad fontes! (Which, if you don’t know what that means, buy the book and turn to page 11.)

Looks like Luther got one thing right after all, I mean, besides the beer

Sandro Botticelli, Magnificat, 1480-81, temper...

Sandro Botticelli, Magnificat, 1480-81, tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery, Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Our prayer should include the Mother of God.. .What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen!” –  Martin Luther, Personal Prayer Book, 1522

See more here.

Thanks to Kevin B. via FB for this.

Yup, even Zwingli allowed for Mary. And infant baptism too, but that is another story.

There, sue that Jim.

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Peter Böhler

Peter Böhler was a bishop in the Moravian Church and one who influenced John Wesley very much.

Peter Bohler, a Pietist theology student from Frankfort, Germany, was the first man ordained by Count von Zinzendorf. Later he was appointed bishop in America where he founded many Moravian settlements in Pennsylvania. He was one of the first men in America to minister amongst the black slaves, teaching both theology and the basics of education that they would have otherwise been denied. He also served as a missionary among the Indians, and established a Moravian work in England.

I have uploaded a pdf copy for you to download of an older biography of Peter.

Memorials on the Life of Peter Böhler

Did Luther Inspire Pre-Marx Marxism? Talk about Getting the Reformation Wrong…

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Actually, no…. but then again, had those peasants read Payton’s book, they wouldn’t have revolted… or at least not blamed Luther for their actions. But, alas, they did revolt and wrote a peasant manifesto, so to speak. In it, we find an awakening consciousness about the rights of workers for self-determination, especially when it is the labor of the workers who has for so longer propped up the ruling classes who do little more than waste the means.


The fundamental and correct chief articles of all the peasants and of those subject to ecclesiastical lords, relating to these matters in which they feel themselves aggrieved.

M cccc, quadratum, Ix et duplicatum
V cum transit, christiana secta peribit.
Peace to the Christian Reader and the Grace of God through Christ.

There are many evil writings put forth of late which take occasion, on account of the assembling of the peasants, to cast scorn upon the gospel, saying: Is this the fruit of the new teaching, that no one should obey but all should everywhere rise in revolt and rush together to reform or perhaps destroy altogether the authorities, both ecclesiastic and lay? The articles below shall answer these godless and criminal fault-finders, and serve in the first place to remove the reproach from the word of God, and in the second place to give a Christian excuse for the disobedience or even the revolt of the entire Peasantry. In the first place the Gospel is not the cause of revolt and disorder, since it is the message of Christ, the promised Messiah, the Word of Life, teaching only love, peace, patience and concord. Thus, all who believe in Christ should learn to be loving, peaceful, long-suffering and harmonious. This is the foundation of all the articles of the peasants (as Will be seen) who accept the Gospel and live according to it. How then can the evil reports declare the Gospel to be a cause of revolt and disobedience? That the authors of the evil reports and the enemies of the Gospel oppose themselves to these demands is due, not to the Gospel, but to the Devil, the worst enemy of the Gospel, who causes this opposition by raising doubts in the minds of his followers, and thus the word of God, which teaches love, peace and concord, is overcome. In the second place, it is clear that the peasants demand that this Gospel be taught them as a guide in life and they ought not to be called disobedient or disorderly. Whether God grant the peasants (earnestly wishing to live according to His word) their requests or no, who shall find fault with the will of the Most High? Who shall meddle in His judgments or oppose his majesty? Did be not hear the children of Israel when they called upon Him and saved them out of the hands of Pharaoh? Can He not save His own to-day? Yes, He will save them and that speedily. Therefore, Christian reader, read the following articles with care and then judge. Here follow the articles:

The First Article. — First, it is our humble petition and desire, as also our will and resolution, that in the future we should have power and authority so that each community should choose and appoint a pastor, and that we should have the right to depose him should he conduct himself improperly. The pastor thus chosen should teach us the Gospel pure and simple, without any addition, doctrine or ordinance of man. For to teach us continually the true faith will lead us to pray God that through His grace this faith may increase within us and become part of us. For if His grace work not within us we remain flesh and blood, which availeth nothing; since the Scripture clearly teaches that only through true faith can we come to God. Only through His mercy can we become holy. Hence such a guide and pastor is necessary and in this fashion grounded upon the Scriptures.

The Second Article. — According as the just tithe is established by the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New, we are ready and willing to pay the fair tithe of grain. The word of God plainly provided that in giving according to right to God and distributing to His people the services of a pastor are required. We will that, for the future, our church provost, whomsoever the community may appoint, shall gather and receive this tithe. From this he shall give to the pastor, elected by the whole community, a decent and sufficient maintenance for him and his, as shall seem right to the whole community (or, with the knowledge of the community). What remains over shall be given to the poor of the place, as the circumstances and the general opinion demand. Should anything farther remain, let it be kept, lest any one should have to leave the country from poverty. Provision should also be made from this surplus to avoid laying any land tax on the poor. In case one or more villages themselves have sold their tithes on account of want, and each village has taken action as a whole, the buyer should not suffer loss, but we will that some proper agreement be reached with him for the repayment of the sum by the village with due interest. But those who have tithes which they have not purchased from a village, but which were appropriated by their ancestors, should not, and ought not, to be paid anything farther by the village which shall apply its tithes to the support of the pastors elected as above indicated, or to solace the poor as is taught by the Scriptures. The small tithes, whether ecclesiastical or lay, we will not pay at an, for the Lord God created cattle for the free use of man. We will not, therefore, pay farther an unseemly tithe which is of man’s invention.

The Third Article. — It has been the custom hitherto for men to hold us as their own property, which is pitiable enough, considering that Christ has delivered and redeemed us all, without exception, by the shedding of His precious blood, the lowly as well as the great. Accordingly, it is consistent with Scripture that we should be free and wish to be so. Not that we would wish to be absolutely free and under no authority. God does not teach us that we should lead a disorderly life in the lusts of the flesh, but that we should love the Lord our God and our neighbour. We would gladly observe all this as God has commanded us in the celebration of the communion. He has not commanded us not to obey the authorities, but rather that we should be humble, not only towards those in authority, but towards every one. We are thus ready to yield obedience according to God’s law to our elected and regular authorities in all proper things becoming to a Christian. We, therefore, take it for granted that you will release us from serfdom as true Christians, unless it should be shown us from the Gospel that we are serfs.

The Fourth Article. — In the fourth place it has been the custom heretofore, that no poor man should be allowed to catch venison or wild fowl or fish in flowing water, which seems to us quite unseemly and unbrotherly as well as selfish and not agreeable to the word of God. In some places the authorities preserve the game to our great annoyance and loss, recklessly permitting the unreasoning animals to destroy to no purpose our crops which God suffers to grow for the use of man, and yet we must remain quiet. This is neither godly or neighbourly. For when God created man he gave him dominion over all the animals, over the birds of the air and over the fish in the water. Accordingly it is our desire if a man holds possession of waters that he should prove from satisfactory documents that his right has been unwittingly acquired by purchase. We do not wish to take it from him by force, but his rights should be exercised in a Christian and brotherly fashion. But whosoever cannot produce such evidence should surrender his claim with good grace.

The Fifth Article. — In the fifth place we are aggrieved in the matter of wood-cutting, for the noble folk have appropriated all the woods to themselves alone. If a poor man requires wood he must pay double for it (or, perhaps, two pieces of money). It is our opinion in regard to wood which has fallen into the hands of a lord whether spiritual or temporal, that unless it was duly purchased it should revert again to the community. It should, moreover, be free to every member of the community to help himself to such fire-wood as he needs in his home. Also, if a man requires wood for carpenter’s purposes he should have it free, but with the knowledge of a person appointed by the community for that purpose. Should, however, no such forest be at the disposal of the community let that which has been duly bought be administered in a brotherly and Christian manner. If the forest, although unfairly appropriated in the first instance, was later duly sold let the matter be adjusted in a friendly spirit and according to the Scriptures.

The Sixth Article. — Our sixth complaint is in regard the excessive services demanded of us which are increase from day to day. We ask that this matter be properly looked into so that we shall not continue to be oppressed in this way, but that some gracious consideration be given us, since our forefathers were required only to serve according to the word of God.

The Seventh Article. — Seventh, we will not hereafter allow ourselves to be farther oppressed by our lords, but will let them demand only what is just and proper according to the word of the agreement between the lord and the peasant. The lord should no longer try to force more services or other dues from the peasant without payment, but permit the peasant to enjoy his holding in peace and quiet. The peasant should, however, help the lord when it is necessary, and at proper times when it will not be disadvantageous to the peasant and for a suitable payment.

The Eighth Article. — In the eighth place, we are greatly burdened by holdings which cannot support the rent exacted from them. The peasants suffer loss in this way and are ruined, and we ask that the lords may appoint persons of honour to inspect these holdings, and fix a rent in accordance with justice, so that the peasants shall not work for nothing, since the labourer is worthy of his hire.

The Ninth Article. — In the ninth place, we are burdened with a great evil in the constant making of new laws. We are not judged according to the offense, but sometimes with great ill will, and sometimes much too leniently. In our opinion we should be judged according to the old written law so that the case shall be decided according to its merits, and not with partiality.

The Tenth Article. — In the tenth place, we are aggrieved by the appropriation by individuals of meadows and fields which at one time belonged to a community. These we will take again into our own hands. It may, however, happen that the land was rightfully purchased. When, however, the land has unfortunately been purchased in this way, some brotherly arrangement should be made according to circumstances.

The Eleventh Article. — In the eleventh place we will entirely abolish the due called Todfall (that is, heriot) and will no longer endure it, nor allow widows and orphans to be thus shamefully robbed against God’s will, and in violation of justice and right, as has been done in many places, and by those who should shield and protect them. These have disgraced and despoiled us, and although they had little authority they assumed it. God will suffer this no more, but it shall be wholly done away with, and for the future no man shall be bound to give little or much.

Conclusion. — In the twelfth place it is our conclusion and final resolution, that if any one or more of the articles here set forth should not be in agreement with the word of God, as we think they are, such article we will willingly recede from when it is proved really to be against the word of God by a clear explanation of the Scripture. Or if articles should now be conceded to us that are hereafter discovered to be unjust, from that hour they shall be dead and null and without force. Likewise, if more complaints should be discovered which are based upon truth and the Scriptures and relate to offenses against God and our neighbour, we have determined to reserve the right to present these also, and to exercise ourselves in all Christian teaching. For this we shall pray God, since He can grant these, and He alone. The peace of Christ abide with us all.