Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 2:40 PM

Martin Luther

The past quarter, I had the blessing of taking a religious studies class on the life and thought of Martin Luther. We read Luther, talked Luther, joked about Luther. It was truly a huge blessing. Come on, how many classes are you able to take at a fairly liberal university where you're able to discuss different aspects of the Gospel, of faith and works, of salvation and justification? Yeah, that was awesome.

Well, here are some reflections:

Luther was obessed about one thing: The righteous will live by faith. Every aspect of everything that he was doing was focused around this one central point.

1) He hated anything that would come between man and salvation through faith, and thus was extremely harsh with those who taught or believed anything that would put a stumbling block in front of people. This did not only include the Roman Catholic Church, but also included the Anabaptists, one of his disciples, and Zwingli, another prominant reformer. Times when Luther would call them spawn of the devil were common (though it must be admitted that we live in a very different world today, and what seems harsh to us now was normal for the times).

2) He had a wholistic approach to life. Even though Luther was concerned about man's relationship with God primarily, he understood that Scripture was not just something to be studied, but one that needed to be practiced. He had strong opinions on how we are to submit to our authorities, how we are to excercise our Christian freedoms, how we are to raise our children, how we are to love our spouse, and desired to men everywhere be able to live out their lives in faith.

3) He was a pastor. Ultimately, even though he comes across as a harsh man, reading how he served his people, his heart for the lost, his desire that people everywhere be able to ascribe to God the glory He deserved really caused me to see him in a different light. His discussion on God's sovereignty in the Bondage of the Will was not a positive presentation "I'm right," but a negative one, intended to defend the power and authority of God, and the idea of justification by faith alone.

4) He had a really cool wife. She seemed to be exactly the type that he needed. Though he originally married to spite the pope and the demons, he eventually grew to love her and raise up a number of children with her. She was strong willed enough not to bow to his fits, yet loving enough to keep him in line and take care of him.

In the midst of one of his bouts of depression, she came in wearing all black. Surprised, he asked if someone had died and she responded that from the way he had been acting, it seemed that God had. He arose and went forth. How cool is that?!

5) Luther had his flaws. He believed, to his death, in the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. (That's what caused the split between him and Zwingli) He thought it was appropriate for believers to marry unbelievers. He oftentimes would, in a desire to hit a topic close to home for his hearers, take a passage that seemed only tangentally related. The passages would eventually get there, but it seemed ironic for someone who believed so much in the authority of Scripture would do this.

All in all, it was quite the blessing to be able to read all of Luther's basic theological writings. His Freedom of the Christian, Bondage of the Will, Temporal Authority, and Estate of Marriage were all very notable, and all things that I often times wondered about. It's good to know there really isnt' anything new under the sun.

For those random readers who are still in college, if you have the opportunity to take a class like this, do it. Definitely the best class I've taken here at Stanford.

**Edit** Some of Luther's works can be found online at monergism.com

Notable works: Bondage of the Will. 95 Theses. Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Concerning Christian Liberty.

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Blogger ts said...

that's awesome, mxu. i've been fascinated with reading biographies of famous churchmen lately. is there any particular biography of luther you came across in your class that you would recommend?  

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Blogger mxu said...

In class we read "Here I Stand" by Bainton. It was very readable and informative and gave an excellent picture of Luther. I definitely would recommend it.  

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Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

thanks for the summary of Luther, the great men of Faith who have gone before us can teah us much.

MDM  

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Blogger Wielding the Sword said...

Hey there. I'm just writing to tell you I'm adding you to my blog list! May God continue to bless you and your writing for His glory.

-Carly-  

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