Luther on Anxiety, Studying and the Restoration of the Church

martin_luther_31

This will be our last visit inside the Luther household. Reluctantly, we must take our leave. And here, Luther gives us some parting wisdom regarding anxiety, study, preaching, the purpose of the church and on reaching our friends and neighbours with the good news of Jesus Christ.

On Anxiety
‘Time heals many things but worrying about them does not.’ (p.200)
‘Nothing has hurt me more than worrying, especially at night.’ (p.234)

On the need for diligent study
‘God’s gifts are boundless. He heaps upon us all things at once in the greatest profusion. He gives us the liberal arts and languages. The choicest books are to be had for a song. But woe to our sloth!’ (p.169)

On not preaching ‘over peoples’ heads’
‘In my sermons I do not think of Bugenhagen, Jonas and Melancthon, for they know as much as I do, so I preach not to them but to my little Lena and Hans and Elsa. It would be a foolish gardener who would attend to one flower to the neglect of the great majority.’ (p. 192-193)

‘Let all your sermons be very plain and simple. Think not of the prince but of the uncultivated and ignorant people. The prince himself is made of the same stuff as they! I preach very simply to the uneducated and it suits everybody. Though I know Greek, Hebrew and Latin, these languages I keep for use among ourselves.’ (p.193)

On the best result of good theological study

‘The best thing that theology can teach us is to know Christ. Therefore Peter says: “Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”’ (p.171)

On the Restoration of the Church
‘Building a church is not instituting ceremonies…but freeing consciences and strengthening faith.’ (p.227)

On bringing the gospel to the world
‘The first and greatest commandment requires faith and fear of God, the second [requires] love to one’s neighbour, which means we ought to preach to and pray for them and not flee into corners.’ (p.153)

(All references are from Table Talk, Smith and Gallinger edition 1915. Modern paperback edition published 1979 by Keats, USA)

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here

For the next part of the Martin Luther Story click here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

In Conversation with Martin Luther – Table Talk

So what was Martin Luther really like? Well, we do have a relatively good idea from the notes taken down by students and friends of his and compiled into a book that was called ‘Table Talk’.

We’ve already seen Luther in humourous mood. Here we get a closer look at the serious side of the man: his likes, dislikes, and passions. These various statement were written by those who heard him in various social contexts in his own home and provide us with a front row opportunity to hear from him.

Luther was spurred on to reform by a charismatic prophetic word
So let’s jump in immediately at the controversial end of the pool and note that Luther was encouraged to initiate reform and to persevere by news of a prophetic word conveyed to him by his spiritual advisor and overseer Johan Staupitz (Staupitz was vicar-general of the Augustinian monks in Germany). Recalling the time when he was struggling with the implications of Scripture against the papacy he said,

‘Staupitz encouraged me much. When he was in Rome in 1511 he heard the prophecy publicly proclaimed: “An Eremite (the Augustinians were called Eremties) shall arise and spoil the papacy!” A certain Franciscan at Rome had seen this in a vision.’ (TT p.9)

On the power of the Scriptures
‘The word of God is free, and will not be confined by human decrees.’ (p.86)

On the inability of good works
‘Works never bring peace to the conscience.’ (p.126)

On Justification
‘Prior to that time I dreaded and hated the Psalms and other parts of Scripture whenever they mentioned the ‘righteousness of God’, by which I understood that He Himself is righteous and judged us according to our sins, not that He accepted us and made us righteous. All Scripture stood as a wall, until I was enlivened by the words: ‘the just shall live by faith.’ From this I learned that the righteousness of God is faith in the mercy of God, by which He Himself justifies us through grace.’ (p.131)

(All references are from Table Talk, Smith and Gallinger edition 1915. Modern paperback edition published 1979 by Keats, USA)

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here

For the next part of the Martin Luther Story click here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Laughing with Luther – quips and comments from the supper table

Martin_Luther

In this post we go inside Martin Luther’s house, into his home and we take our seats around his table and listen in on the conversation.

As students and friends were invited by the ever-hospitable Luthers to eat with them, some wrote down some of the things that Martin said. These various sayings were collected and are now usually published under the title of  Table Talk.

Here are a few examples.

On ‘Life Cycles’
‘My boy Hans is now entering his seventh year. Every seven years a person changes; the first period is infancy, the second childhood. At fourteen they begin to see the world and lay the foundations of education, at twenty one the young men seek marriage, at twenty eight they are householders and patres-familias, at thirty five they are magistrates in church and state, until forty two when they are kings. After that the senses begin to decline. Thus every seven years brings a new condition in body and character, as has happened to me and to us all.’ (p.43)

On Husbands and Wives
‘A good woman deserves a good husband. To have peace and love in marriage is a gift which is next to the knowledge of the gospel. [Turning to his wife:] Katie, you have a good husband who loves you. Let another be Empress, but you give thanks to God!’ (p.46)

‘God first created a single man, which was a good idea! Then he created woman, and therewith the trouble began! And so the monks, acquiescing with God’s first plan, live without wives, for they are wiser than God!’ (p.152)

On investing in your Children’s education
‘The best thing that ever came out of my father’s property is that he brought me up. No money is ever better spent than in education.’ (p.229)

On badly written worship songs
‘How does it happen that with reference to secular things we have so many a fine poem and so many a beautiful song, while for spiritual edification we have such wretched, cold things?’ (p.100)

On being willing to admit the Pope to church membership
‘If the Pope will throw away his crown and descend from his throne and primacy, and confess that he has erred, has destroyed the church and poured out innocent blood, then we will receive him into the church.’

This sample of sayings are from Table Talk, Smith and Gallinger edition 1915. Modern paperback edition published 1979 by Keats, USA. The headings have been added.

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here

For the next part of the Martin Luther Story click here

© 2008 Lex Loizides