Commemoration of Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor

Luther_Cranach_cropped

Martin Luther, by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1551 (Bamberg).  Printed at Wittenberg by Georg Formschneyder

Today marks the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546).  From Murray’s A Year with the Church Fathers:

Martin Luther, born on 10 November 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505, and received a doctorate in theology in 1512.  As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, Luther’s Scriptural studies led him to question many of the Church’s teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures, and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises.  He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ’s sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone.  He died on February 18 1546, while visiting the town of his birth.*

Luther is perhaps most popularly famous for his “Ninety-Five Theses,” but as far as theological impact goes, his Small and Large Catechisms and German translation of the Bible are probably his most important works impacting the life of the individual Christian.  It’s little wonder, then, that Playmobil gave their “little Luther” commemorative figure a copy of the Lutherbibel when the toy came out last year.

http://blogs.lcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/luther-playmobil-IN.jpg

Of course, a little blurb about Luther isn’t enough to educate oneself about the whole of his life and work, and his complex personality (Luther could be very sharp-tongued in his treatises–the Lutheran Insulter has compiled some of his better wit), but if you want to peruse his writings, Project Wittenberg has a large collection of them online, including his hymn texts.

Here’s one of his more martial hymns, “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word”**:

 

Happy reading and listening!

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* Scott R. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011): 50.
** Luther’s original first stanza read,
“Lord, keep us in thy Word and work,
Restrain the murderous Pope and Turk,
Who fain would tear from off thy throne
Christ Jesus, thy beloved Son.”

Commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor

18melanc

Melanchthon, by Lucas Cranach the Younger

 

Today marks the birth of the early Lutheran confessor, Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560).  In his A Year With the Church Fathers, Scott R. Murray describes him thus:

Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar.  In 1518, he was appointed to teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg.  At Luther’s urging, Melancththon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies.

In April 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the representatives of Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, hopping to effect a meeting of minds between two opposing groups.  Since Luther was at that time under papal excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting.  He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 25, 1530, as the defining document of Lutheranism within Christendom.  Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560.[1]

Melanchthon also has the unfortunate distinction of having originated the Philippist party in early Lutheranism, which, as opposed to the Gnesio-Lutherans, had seemingly embraced a number of Calvinistic beliefs and tendencies that Melanchthon came to hold in his later life (notably, Melanchthon had come to disagree with Luther’s views on good works and had forwarded a synergistic view, see the Synergistic Controversy).  His embracing of these other ideas led him to revise previous writings, most notably the Augsburg Confession, to be more in-line with them.  These views were eventually rejected in the Formula of Concord (FC I & II), and the Lutheran Church would adopt the “unaltered” Augsburg Confession as a confessional document.

Regardless, despite his theological shifts later in life, Melanchthon still had a valuable and indelible impact on the Lutheran Church and the Reformation.

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1 Murray, S. R. 2011. A Year with the Church Fathers. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, p. 48.

Reblogged: Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian (Aardvark Alley)

Martin Chemnitz

My unabashed reposting of other people’s material continues with Orycteropus Afer’s post for yesterday’s commemoration of Martin Chemnitz, the “Second Martin” of the Lutheran Reformation.  See an excerpt below after the jump.

Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian (November 9)

+ Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian +

9 November AD 1522 – 8 April AD 1586

Today marks the birthday of Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Confessor. We regard him as, after Martin Luther, the Lutheran Church’s most important theologian. He possessed a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the Church Fathers combined with a genuine love for the Church.

Doctrinal quarrels after Luther’s death in 1546 led Chemnitz to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and a principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of the Scriptures and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Work on the Formula led Chemnitz and others to gather all the normative doctrinal statements confessed by the Lutherans, from the ancient creeds through the Evangelical writings of the 16th Century, into one volume, the Book of Concord.

Chemnitz also authored the four volume Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-1573). This monumental work saw him rigorously subjecting the pronouncements of this Roman Catholic Council to judgment by Scripture and the Church Fathers. The Examination is the definitive Lutheran answer to the Concilium Tridentinum and an outstanding exposition of the faith of the Augsburg Confession.

Reblogged: Gustavus Adolphus II, King and Confessor (from Aardvark Alley)

The Gustavus Adolphus plaque at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

The Gustavus Adolphus plaque at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Orycteropus Afer over on Aardvark Alley has some great daily posts for feast days and commemorations, especially as regards people important to the history of the early Church and the Reformation.  Today happens to be the commemoration of King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden, who fought valiantly during the Thirty Years’ War “so that the Lutheran Reformation might live.”  He left his mark on Germany and northern Europe during the war, not only extending Sweden’s world-influence (the Swedish Empire became a world power under Gustavus Adolphus’ reign, and stayed so for about 100 years until the Karl XII’s defeat at Poltava at the hands of the Russians under Peter the Great), but also making great gains for the spread of Lutheranism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.  Orycteropus has put up a nice biography of “der Löwe von Mitternacht”, as well as suggested readings for his commemoration.  Read a selection from the commemoration after the jump:

+ Gustavus Adolphus, King and Confessor + 6 November AD 1632

Gustavus Adolphus pioneered the use of fast-firing musketeers and extreme mobility of troops and flexibility in engagements. His artillery was much more mobile than others’ and he treated all branches of his army equally, refusing to favor cavalry over infantry or musketeers over pikemen. Indeed, he cross-trained as many of his soldiers as possible, so much of his infantry could ride and his pikemen could also use muskets.

Yet we Christians, in particular we Lutherans, most of all remember and give thanks for a man who used his intellect and leadership in political and military defense of the religious gains of the Reformation. And while not all in Sweden, Germany, or elsewhere continue to staunchly believe in justification by grace through faith, or to trust in Scripture’s veracity and the truth of the Lutheran Confessions, it’s nowhere the fault of godly King Gustavus Adolphus Magnus.

Suggested Lection

Psalm 146
Daniel 10:18-20
Romans 13:1-7
John 15:9-11

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Gustav Adolf, who inspired his kingship under Jesus, the King of kings, and who led him to bold confession and humble service, grant to us, Your people, like faith and humble service, that we who rejoice in his triumphs may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

King, revolutionizer of the army, natty dresser.

King Gustavus II Adolphus