Happy Reformation Day



Of course the title should read “critiques“…



Happy a happy Halloween, too. We’ve got it. Make the best of it.







Luther still matters

From Pastor Mark Anderson’s blog on Tuesday Oct. 31, 2012


On this day in 1517, the Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  The theses that Luther penned and posted that day set in motion events that reverberate into our own time. It is not an overstatement to say that Martin Luther has been among the most influencial historical figures of the last 500 years. There was a time when throughout the western world  the Bible was the only book read more widely than Luther’s writings. Think about that.

Luther used the door of the Wittenberg church to post his theses along with an invitation to debate because it was a well-known community bulletin board.  Wittenberg was also full of pilgrims that day who were gathering for the All Saints Day observances and a monk posting a notice would have been unremarkable. As he came and went it is likely that he went largely unnoticed. Unfortunately, unnoticed can also describe Luther in our time.


Fast forward.


The year was 1988. I had just arrived at a Lutheran congregation here in California to begin my work as associate pastor for youth and parish education. On the first day of 7th grade confirmation class I distributed a brief, one page set of questions to the kids in order to get a sense of their knowledge of the Bible and their Lutheran faith. One of the questions was, ‘Who was Martin Luther?’ Well over half the class identified Martin Luther as a black man who was killed or had something to do with civil rights. A number of the kids answered that they did not know. Of that group of over twenty kids, three were able to identify Luther as the reformer.

At about the same time I was asked to address a Sunday morning adult class of over 50 people on the subject of Luther. To begin I described the theology of the cross and the theology of glory and asked the group for a show of hands regarding which they thought represented Martin Luther’s theology. Nearly every person went with the theology of glory. Wrong. No wonder the kids were clueless. I went home that morning in a blue funk. Not because I was surprised but precisely because after having already served three congregations in two other states, I had come to expect this.

Now, I am all for dusting off the 16th century once in a while and re-visiting the events of Luther’s life and time. It is important to do so. At the same time, I am more concerned that people today who inhabit the corridors of Lutheran churches, or any church for that matter, have some inkling as to why Luther matters. Because he does.






Thank you, Pastor Mark Anderson.













And he matters not because Martin Luther got everything right but because he points us to what is essential, he points us to the Cross, to Christ where our true salvation is found. Luther read his Bible and there discovered that we have no right or need to say anything or do anything for our salvation. As far as God is concerned, we have nothing to offer. Rather, as beggars in the bread line we can do no other than hold out our empty hands and receive the salvation that God gives on His terms, by grace alone, in the crucified and risen Jesus. 



Luther on turning the Scriptures into a lawbook.


“It has become a deplorable custom that the Gospels and the Epistles are treated like law books, in which one is to learn what we are to do, and in which the works of Christ are presented as nothing but an example held before one’s eyes.  Wherever this errant opinion remains within the heart, there neither gospel nor epistle can be read usefully and in a Christian way;  such readers remain nothing but heathen,  as before.”


>>>>> – Martin Luther                                                                                                    


From a work by Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer, titled ‘Martin Luther’s Theology’, 2003

Here’s a link to Chapter 4 of that work, ‘What Makes the Bible Become Holy Scripture’:



Thanks to CrossAlone Lutheran District for making this available on their site.

And thanks also to flickr and armas_de, for the photo.


Preaching this sermon would probably get you thrown out of Saddleback Church, Calvary Chapel, or Willowcreek



Listen, and let me know ‘why’ (if you agree with me), or ‘why not’, if you don’t agree with me.

I have posted this one before (it is my all time favorite sermon – if that’s a sin, well…I am a sinner – what’s one more?)

It is a sermon on Luther’s explanation of the third article of the Apostle’s Creed, the Holy Spirit.


click here > I believe that I cannot believe





Thank you, Pastor Mark for this strong Word of the gospel.

Thanks to flickr and Waiting For The Word, for the photo.




Luther quote



“Next to faith this is the highest art — to be content with the calling in which God has placed you. I have not learned it yet.”

                                                                                                     — Martin Luther




Pastor Mark Anderson’s take on the above quote:

There is more to this quote than meets the eye. Luther viewed the ordinary vocations of life as authentic Christian discipleship. This was consistent with his very down-to-earth view of the Gospel and represented one of his most radical insights into the nature of the Christian life. Contrast this with the myriad of current discipleship, following Jesus programs where piety runs amok and which amount to nothing more than spiritual ladder climbing projects.





Understanding Luther

“Anyone who is but a little familiar with Luther knows that his different thoughts are not strung together like pearls in a necklace, united only by the bond of a common authority or perhaps by a chain of logical argument, but that they all lie close as the petals of a rose about a common centre, they shine out like the rays of the sun from one glowing source: the forgiveness of sins. We should be in no danger of misleading the would-be student of Luther, if we expressly gave him the rule: Never imagine you have rightly grasped a Lutheran idea until you have succeeded in reducing it to a simple corollary of the forgiveness of sins.”

 from Our Calling by Swedish theologian Einar Billing



photo of Einar Billing from this site http://hem.bredband.net/wall/gen/

 h/t  to Pastor Mark.



The Total Luther

Career of the Reformer III, Works of Luther #33

Luther said many things in many different situations. He even said “unLutheran” things, such as good works are evidence of true faith. If you can find quotes in Luther’s Works that support works-righteousness, does that mean Luther had no coherent stance?


To the contrary, when looking at the total Luther, it’s evident that his theology (the cross alone; the bondage of the will, the freedom of the Christian, and the like) has a dynamic that is consistent from the young Luther to the older Luther in spite of what he may have said in a particular sermon on a particular occasion.


Thanks to CrossAlone Lutheran District.



Are you really gonna tame this beast?

Vicious Dog by Simma_Down_Na!!

Here’s Luther’s commentary on Gal. 3:19

VERSE 19. It was added because of transgressions.


In other words, that transgressions might be recognized as such and thus increased. When sin, death, and the wrath of God are revealed to a person by the Law, he grows impatient, complains against God, and rebels. Before that he was a very holy man; he worshipped and praised God; he bowed his knees before God and gave thanks, like the Pharisee. But now that sin and death are revealed to him by the Law he wishes there were no God. The Law inspires hatred of God. Thus sin is not only revealed by the Law; sin is actually increased and magnified by the Law.

The Law is a mirror to show a person what he is like, a sinner who is guilty of death, and worthy of everlasting punishment. What is this bruising and beating by the hand of the Law to accomplish? This, that we may find the way to grace. The Law is an usher to lead the way to grace. God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted. It is His nature to exalt the humble, to comfort the sorrowing, to heal the broken-hearted, to justify the sinners, and to save the condemned. The fatuous idea that a person can be holy by himself denies God the pleasure of saving sinners. God must therefore first take the sledge-hammer of the Law in His fists and smash the beast of self-righteousness and its brood of self-confidence, self-wisdom, self-righteousness, and self-help. When the conscience has been thoroughly frightened by the Law it welcomes the Gospel of grace with its message of a Savior who came into the world, not to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax, but to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, and to grant forgiveness of sins to all the captives.

Man’s folly, however, is so prodigious that instead of embracing the message of grace with its guarantee of the forgiveness of sin for Christ’s sake, man finds himself more laws to satisfy his conscience. “If I live,” says he, “I will mend my life. I will do this, I will do that.” Man, if you don’t do the very opposite, if you don’t send Moses with the Law back to Mount Sinai and take the hand of Christ, pierced for your sins, you will never be saved.

When the Law drives you to the point of despair, let it drive you a little farther, let it drive you straight into the arms of Jesus who says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”


Thank you, brother Martin.   Thank you, St. Paul.    Thank you, Lord Jesus.



Thanks to flickr and Simma_Down_Na!!,  for the photo.


Martin Luther’s Treatise on Christian Liberty

    Luther's 95 theses by honecr5        

click  below  

 >  Martin Luther on Christian Liberty

This class is just 49 minutes long and packed with great, freedom giving gospel and awesome  “ALL or NOTHING” Lutheran theology.

If you re only going to listen to one great class on Christian freedom this weekend, make it this one.




Thanks to flickr and honecr5 for the photo.




“I Believe that I Cannot Believe…”


Can one come to believe in God by his or her own strength, effort, will, or reason?

Can you size Him up and make a decision for Him? Can you choose to make Him your ‘personal Lord and Savior’?


Find out what Luther said about it, here: 

click here>  Strength-and-Effort-to-choose-Jesus


 ( it starts out a little fuzzy but clears up after 15 seconds – if you can give this one 10 minutes of your time, you will not regret it )