Luther tagged posts



I have been re-reading to be fortified for the world to come.  Soon there will be more to say.  For now…


Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio: 20141204




Micah 7:6

For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

Matthew 10:36

‘…a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

1 Timothy 3:4

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.




Seromon: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

Grace and Peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller writes that, “The mark of the evangelical – The mark of the pietist, is that: Growth, Good Works and Obedience to God’s Word is the mark of the Christian Life;and anything Sacramental or anything to do with the Means of Grace utterly conflicts with that!”

Of course, none of us are like that, are we? No….
We believe our manners and customs more enlightened, our intelligence and culture immeasurably superior.
Brim-full of hypocritical cant and puritan ideas, we preach, pray and whine.

We are the most parsimonious of wretches, yet we extol charity;
• the most inveterate blasphemers, yet we are the readiest exporters;
• the worst of dastards, yet we are the most shameless boasters;
• the most selfish of people, yet we are the most blatant philanthropists;
• the blackest-hearted hypocrites, yet we are religious fanatics.

We are agitators and schemers, braggarts and deceivers, swindlers and extortionists, and yet pretend to Godliness, truth, purity and humanity.  We are the inheritors of the puritanical spirit which manifests itself in the nagging suspicion that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

On top of all of our poor behavior, we also killed the Son of God!
That’s right!
You heard correctly.
You and I are participants in this great crime and there is nothing we can do about it.

Jesus knows who we are.
He tells us straight up in John 8:44 ff;

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”

We respond; “Hey, wait just a minute. You can not say that!”

He continues by saying; “…because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”

Again, we say; “It’s just that you are saying mean things about us.”

Jesus simply states; “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”

Then we really get warmed up; “That is not the issue, the issue is that you have been talking mean to us and you’ve got to go!”
Or better yet we yell; “Crucify him!”

Picking up the preaching office, St. Paul writes in our epistle reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10);

5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5:21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

He goes on to describe what a Christian life is really all about.
Like St. Paul, Martin Luther writes that there are seven characteristics that are the mark of the true Church:
Holy Communion;
Divine Worship; and

That’s right!
Sacramental living and dependence on the Means of Grace.
Through baptism, Jesus takes all your sin.
Jesus strengthens you with his body and blood.
That you may recognize that;

(Luke 6:40) The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

And be recognized as;
Holy Christian people by the Cross; and
Living on the Sacraments and being dependent on the Means of Grace includes;
suffering persecution; being subjected to hate; undergo misfortune; all sorts of tribulation and evil from the Devil [remember the Lord’s Prayer]; the world and flesh; inwardly morn; be stupid; be frightened; outwardly poor; scorned; ill; weak; and suffer in silence and obedience; So that you are like Christ our Lord.

Then Jesus says to you three things;

(Matt. 5) “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for my sake….’
(Luke 17:10) So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’


… your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

with the gifts of the Sacraments; the Means of Grace; and keep you in the

righteousness of God.


The most despicable of men

Given what passes for Christian churches in these united States, it is not surprising that Christians In Name Only (CINO) get their religious entertainment fix each week are shocked to see the condition of the church in Palestine, Russia, north Africa, and etc.  Most but not all of these areas are where one find the church of Jesus Christ.  As Martin Luther wrote:

“The church is offensive to the wise and counted with criminals.  This is the lot of the church because this was the lot of Christ, the Head of the Church.”

The results of this distance between the church of Jesus Christ and what passes for it here in these united States is of great magnitude.  But this also has a great impact upon the those within each.  In these united States the message is one of “power, wealth, peace, honor, wisdom, and righteousness.”  CINO preachers cover the remnant with “slander, bitter hatred, persecution, and blasphemy.”  This is license for the CINO to treat the remnant with “contempt and ingratitude.”

Robert A. Kelly has pointed out that the fact that the CINO,

“…who carry out the persecution of and inflict suffering on Christ’s people are the agents of the devil does not mean that they are obviously and outwardly wicked people.  Some are, but most are often the most outwardly pious, upright, and religious people.  They are full of holy zeal to protect God and morality from assault.”

And so it is and so it will be.  But what about those who deliver Christ’s words of “affliction, shame, persecution, death, etc.”  Well, for the most part they are out of step with the new and the enlightened.  They are “the most despicable of men” and thus the source of the church’s glory.


Pelagianism – A falsis principiis proficisci (Part 6) – fini

Where We Stand

Recent studies of Pelagius’ extant writings have questioned his ostracism.[1]    Modern scholars are coming to the opinion that perhaps Augustine attacked Pelagius for teachings that were a corruption of what Pelagius actually taught.  In some instances there is an attempt to integrate the two teachings.[2]   The question seems to be open ended and often the judge and the advocate are the same person, so changing minds is near impossible.

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

What is more critical is the presents of all forms of Pelagianism in most churches today.    Most modern Christians consider their faith something they themselves have chosen.  This leads to extravagant efforts at church growth, increases in ‘church business’ as the function of the congregations, and the never ending chase for more funding of this or that improvement.  None of which may be the will of God and almost always leaves Jesus out of consideration.[3]

In their introduction, Packer and Johnston ask the following question and make the undeniable argument that:

Do we not stand in urgent need of such teaching as Luther here gives us – teaching which humbles man, strengthens faith, and glorifies God – and is not the contemporary Church weak for the lack of it?  The issue is clear.  We are compelled to ask ourselves: If the Almighty God of the Bible is to be our God, if the New Testament gospel is to be our message, if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever – is any other position than Luther’s possible?  Are we not in all honesty bound to stand with him in ascribing all might, and majesty, and dominion, and power, and all the glory of our salvation to God alone?  surely no more important or far-reaching question confronts the Church to-day.[4]

To which can only be added that regardless of it origin what has come down to us as Pelagianism – hard, soft, semi or any form – can not be tolerated.  The fallen person…

…who has not yet practically and experimentally learned the bondage of his will in sin has not yet comprehended any part of the gospel; for this is the hinge on which all turns, the ground on which the gospel rests…[5]

Pastors, above all else, must practically and experimentally learn the bondage of their own wills and that of their congregations in order to be able to preach, teach and believe the gospel proclamation.  The world is in urgent need of that which denies the enlightened anthropocentric narcissism of personal, congregational and community destruction and returns to the Cross of Christ.  To paraphrase St. Paul, the time has,

…come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.[6]

But pastors must,

keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.[7]

Which is to,

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.[8]


[1] Breckenridge, “Pelagius: The Making of a Heretic,” 34.

[2] Haight, “Notes on the Pelagian Controversy,” 39.
[3]  Robert K. Hudnut. “Pelagianism—Wrong as Ever” in America Magazine, the National Catholic Weekly.  accessed April 16, 2014.
[4]  Luther. The Bondage of the Will
[5] Luther. The Bondage of the Will.
[6]  2 Timothy 4: 3-4
[7]  2 Timothy 4: 5
[8]  2 Timothy 4: 2



Pelagianism – A falsis principiis proficisci (Part 5)

Another rustic defends the Church

Despite being continuously rejected by the Church, Semi-Pelagianism (as it was now known) continued to be a source of controversy.  The debate erupted again in a contest between Luther and Erasmus.  Both men hoped to reform the Church of their time.  However, Erasmus, the learned and elegant translator of the Greek New Testament, sought a peaceful, undoctrinal humanistic reform.  Luther, who described himself as “barbarus in barbarie semper versatus,” was the leader of the highly doctrinal revolutionary Augustinian evangelicalism reform.[1]


Again, the two antagonist were cordial at the beginning.  Erasmus approved of much of what Luther had to say.  However, Erasmus was put off by Luther’s rough way of dealing with other in the need to reform the Church.  Pushed by supporters and a dig at his abilities by Luther, Erasmus penned On the Freedom of the Will which pitted him against Luther.  Luther responded with what has become known as the “Manifesto of the Reformation,” the translated title being The Bondage of the Will.[2]

Luther considered Erasmus’ Semi-Pelagianism worse than outright paganism, because it lead weaker Christians to the uncertainty of their own choices.  These wretches would always be trying harder or worrying over their salvation rather than simply accepting God grace through Jesus Christ.  Luther also attacked “Erasmus’s tone of ‘bored detachment’ towards the subject at hand was ‘fundamentally irreligious and in a theologian irresponsible.”[3]   And Luther made it clear that no form of Pelagianism could be true because fallen man can do nothing but sin and any independent meritorious act could not be carried out by fallen man without that act being the will of God.  Even the hint of such power in fallen man would be a denial of Christ.[4]

Stung by the ruthlessness of Luther’s word, Erasmus retreated into the more receptive arms of the Roman church.  Although influential at the time, Erasmus has been lost in the long line of humanist ‘reformers’ of the church in Rome.  Luther on the other hand set a course for the true Church of Jesus Christ.


[1] Martin Luther. The Bondage of the Will, trans. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell 1988).  “I am an uncivilized fellow who has lived his life in the backwoods.”
[2] Lee Gatiss.  “The Manifesto of the Reformation — Luther vs. Erasmus on Free Will.”  The Theologian.  accessed April 16, 2014.
[3]  Gatiss. “The Manifesto of the Reformation — Luther vs. Erasmus on Free Will.”
[4]  Luther. The Bondage of the Will.


Luther and Worship

Worship is where the Holy Ghost leads us to ask for the our sin to be forgiven.  The reformers wrote that: This worship is the highest worship of Christ. Nothing greater could be ascribe to Christ. To seek from Him the remission of sins was truly to acknowledge the Messiah. Now, thus to think of Christ, thus to worship Him, thus to embrace Him, is truly to believe.*   Luther made very few changes in the medieval Latin Mass which is confessed; we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things.   He retained the use of the Latin language with which; … we mingle with it German hymns, in order that the people also may have something to learn, and by which faith and fear may be called forth. This custom has always existed in the churches. For although some more frequently, and others more rarely, introduced German hymns, nevertheless the people almost everywhere sang something in their own tongue. [Therefore, this is not such a new departure.]**

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

Unfortunately, most Sunday gatherings are more representative of overhaul of the Mass that was made by the radical progressives, Calvin, Zwingli and the enthusiasts.  These radicals ‘threw out all traditional services and substituted spiritualism for Word and Gospel.’***   This has lead to a cacophonous mixture that strains the definition of worship to its breaking point.  Completely lost is the basis for reforming the church.

Returning to the source of the reformation would be a start.  Again, not to necessarily reinstate Luther’s Mass directly, but to look to it as a guide for our current worship.  A return of order and discipline in worship would encourage the use of the what is good, beautiful and true.  This should include the use of elements of worship that have been developed in all times and in various places.  Here is a place for modern hymns and other forms that are theocentric and not simply rebellious.


* Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church: German-Latin-English.  (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921).  AP IV II 33.

** Triglot Concordia. AP XXIV 1

*** Triglot Concordia. AP XXIV 3-5