Martin Luther v. MLK – One day only!
As a proud (but not too proud) Lutheran, I am thankful to be part of the somewhat dysfunctional family fun known as Lent Madness. As we reach the cataclysmic matchup of Martin Luther v. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, February 25th, I humbly submit these 95 theses (not the original 95 Theses by a long shot) to all those who love Lent Madness.
I have been told that some Anglicans don’t consider themselves Protestant. Others don’t honor Martin Luther with a day of commemoration. Yet if Episcopalian, you are in full communion with your Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) brothers and sisters. So, how about throwing us a bone?
If Roman Catholic, how about a vote in the spirit of reconciliation? Was the Reformation really so bad? Don’t you know our faith traditions are in talks to heal the wounds and divisions of the past, even (maybe someday) share communion. Follow the example of Pope Benedict. Be a uniter, and not a divider. Vote for Luther!
If you, dear reader, are of another faith tradition, get to know Martin Luther. To know him is to love him. “This is most certainly true” (as Martin Luther used to say…a lot). Many of his writings are as informative and entertaining as when they were first penned.
I know some in Lent Mandess tend to prefer martyrs. Luther wasn’t one, but he received constant threats of imprisonment and death, struggled to make ends meet, and suffered long seperations from his beloved family. His health likely suffered as well due to his long hours in service to others. Perhaps most compelling, Martin Luther King’s family apparently had a thing for Martin Luther’s legacy. (You’ll want to read #55 below.)
Others would prefer modern people wear the Golden Halo. Well, reading these Ninety-Five Lent Madness Theses might convince you that Martin Luther is as relevant today as in the 16th Century.
For those that can’t seem to forgive the sometimes admittedly cranky, rude, and anti-semetic Luther, I hope you will try ot look at him in context before you vote. He held many biased and sometimes repulsive views of his time – appropriately called Dark Ages – to be sure, but he also showed evidence of increasing mental illness as he aged. This is most clearly noted by comparing his canon of work and his biography, not by taking things piecemeal out of context. This isn’t an excuse, but it might help you forgive and look at the bigger picture of his life.
Despite his clear failings, God used him to achieve great things. Roman Catholics, Protestants, and all kinds of Anabaptists benefited directly and indirectly from the Reformation long-term. It has fostered democracy and education. It even influenced the arts. Luther was a big part of the movement forward, a progressive for his time, and many of his contemporaries (including some adverseries) give him credit for his positive influence. His efforts didn’t just help change the United States (no small thing to be sure), but it helped transform the world and is still helping to do so. We have come a long way in the almost 500 years since the posting of his 95 Theses at Wittenberg.
Please give Martin Luther your most compassionate consideration. Vote for him while holding your nose if you must. (Just clean your hands before touching your keyboard again please. It is flu season.) He understood himself as a saved sinner, so maybe you can vote for a sinner after all as Rev. Janine Schenone suggested regarding Seabury.
As Luther died, he wrote, “We are beggars. This is true.” He was speaking about grace, but it might just work for Lent Madness too. I beg you (or at least ask politely); vote Martin Luther on February 25th. If you are like me, you can do no other. VOTE MARTIN LUTHER ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 25TH!
Look up #BigLutheran #hereIvote #vote4Luther #MartinLuther #Luther #LutheranConspiracy #embracethejerk #LentMadness on Twitter to see how things go.
Disputation of the Rev. Louis A. Florio, Jr. (aka lou-d-luthrn or @loudluthrn) on the Goodness and Efficacy of voting for Dr. Martin Luther (2013)
Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Louis Florio, Master of Divinity, and ordinary pastor therein at Messiah Lutheran Church (Mechanicsville, VA), intends to defend the following statements and invoke your vote for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther during Lent Madness.
- Luther loved God. He forcefully argued over and over again that the Ten Commandments and all of scripture wrapped into those first three commandments (as Lutherans count them) to honor and love God. Loving neighbor served to help fulfill that call, and served as sort of twin commandments. To me, it sounds a lot like Jesus.
- Luther was a spiritual trend setter. When the system came out against him, he continued to seek the truth through faith, scripture and reason despite the costs – and for him, there were many. He faced death threats and suffering throughout his career as a Reformer. Word Alone – Faith Alone – Grace Alone; that was enough for Luther. He steadfastly argued we are saved by grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone.
- Luther loved his wife, Katharina, despite her perhaps smelling a bit like herring when they first met. Luther in some ways (not all) ended up ahead of his time for women’s rights. They shared in their family’s economic and social life as relative equals. She, a former nun, was a close advisor and coworker in the Reformation and his letters speak lovingly of her. She was called the Morning Star of Wittenberg, and she became almost a model that a woman could do anything. When Luther died, he left his entire estate under her control against the practice of society at the time. He looked upon marriage as an equal calling to celibacy. Marriage helped fulfill God’s command in Genesis to go forth and multiply, but it also echoed and modeled the love which is God active in our lives (with or without children). Not a shrinking violet when it comes to talk of sex, he encouraged husbands to attend to all their wife’s needs. Read more in Luther on Women by Susan Karant-Nunn.
Katharina von Bora Luther, the love of Martin Luther’s life. Click here to watch “The Morning Star of Wittenberg.”
- While always busy with the Reformation, Luther and Katie loved children and family life. They had six: Hans – June 1526; Elizabeth – 10 December 1527, who died within a few months; Magdalene – 1529, who died in Luther’s arms in 1542; Martin – 1531; Paul – January 1533; and Margaret – 1534. Although a man of his times in many respects regarding child rearing, Martin Luther spoke out against parents being overbearing and their responsibility to demonstrate Christian love at all times.
- Luther loved his neighbor and was compassionate towards them. For example, he argued that those who committed suicide should be shown love and mercy. They should be allowed to rest in hallowed grounds – not the practice of his day – for the darkness of this world had simply overcome them. Their salvation wasn’t resting on their own strength but the strength of Christ’s cross. (This is not unlike Hildegard of Bingen.) He was ahead of his time, perhaps since Luther himself seems to have suffered from depression himself. In his exposition of “Thou shall not murder,” Luther included ignoring your neighbor’s needs as a kind of murder. His faith was relational – toward God, toward neighbor, lived out together as church.
- Luther understood isolation and loneliness. Much like John of the Cross’ dark night of the soul, Luther wrote about Anfechtungen, the German word that Luther used to describe the overwhelming spiritual trial, terror, despair, and religious crisis that he experienced at times throughout his life. In such times, one must trust in the “hidden God” who is at work fulfilling all the promises of scripture (and more) with steadfast love. Luther often reminded himself of God’s promises in Baptism, simply reminding himself when afraid or filled with doubt, “I am baptized. I am Christ’s”
- Although in many ways a theological trendsetter, Luther was remarkably rooted in scriptures, those who came before him, and the mystical spirituality of the past. He loved the mystic who wrote Theologia Germanica, along with Augustine, Bernard, Bonaventure, Johannes Tauler, and Brigid of Sweeden; to name only a few. Don’t believe me? Read Theology of the Heart: The Role of Mysticism in the Theology of Martin Luther, by Bengt R. Hoffman.
- Luther loved animals and was bitterly opposed to hunting for sport. His beloved dog Tölpel (which means something like dunderhead) is mentioned affectionately again and again by Luther, and Luther expected animals to have a place in heaven thanks to our loving God. “Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.” (Laurie B., if Old Marty starts to tank in the vote, get some of those cute pandas ready for him. He would love that, I am sure.)
- Luther was extremely social. He loved gathering with friends and visitors to talk over current events, theology, and more while sharing a meal and a beer or two. (Hey, he was German, don’t forget.) His family frequently rested on the verge of poverty hosting so many people. Some of his most candid comments are found in a collection called Table Talk.
- Luther liked music, and he wrote many hymns. He is said to have sometimes taken common, popular music and attached Christian lyrics. The rumor is that A Mighty Fortress is Our God was from a popular pub song. He also believed if you couldn’t sing, sing loud anyway. It would scare away the Devil and bring you good cheer.
- Luther liked beer and even made it. No wonder the pope assumed he was just some “drunk German monk.” His favorite was said to be Einbeck beer, said to be the most famous beer of the Middle Ages, available everywhere in Germany and shipped as far as Jerusalem. Learn more about the beers of Martin Luther at Cyberbrethren.com.
- Luther is your Homeboy. He was appreciated by contemporaries and later people for his down to earth language and theological approaches. Although, some (especially today) complain about these earthy characteristics and his bathroom language as well. Of course, who ever said saints are perfect?
- His theological descendants are your friends and neighbors. There are over 70.5 million Lutherans in the world. Visit the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to learn more.
- How many Lent Madness participants have rap songs written for them?
- Do you like reading or hearing scriptures in your own language? Well then, vote for Luther! Like Wycliffe and Hus, Luther advocated for it, and he created the first Bible in the German tongue. Bibles in the vernacular were still opposed by the Roman Catholic Church at the time – including in England.
- Do you like receiving both the body and the blood of Christ during the celebration of the Eucharist? Well then, vote for Luther! Again like Wycliffe and Huss, he advocated for it, and it became a reality. (In his day, only the body was commonly shared with the congregation during the Roman Catholic mass.)
- Do you enjoy and find benefit from the liturgy in your own language? Well then, vote for Luther! He helped make it happen.
- Luther believed in the real presence – not transubstantiation or consubstantiation which are Aristotelian, metaphysical constructs. He didn’t want to even try to explain the mystery and risk being unbiblical, never mind use philosophy to do so. Instead, he suggested trusting that it was the real body and blood of Christ in, under and through the bread. Jesus said it. It is most certainly true. (We could perhaps avoid a lot of arguments with this simple approach.)
- Luther did not desire to break up the church only reform it, and he explicitely didn’t want a religion named after him. (Of course, you don’t always get what you want.) About ninety percent of all Lutherans still believe that there is one universal (i.e. catholic with a small c) church despite theological divisions, and they live their lives quite ecumenically. Our confessions, the Book of Concord, are held to be true as far as they are proven consistent with scripture. Thus, denominations like the ELCA feel free to work and worship with other denominations. The other 10%, called confessional Lutherans, hold the confessions to be equal to scripture. If you don’t agree with the confessions as written, you are deemed deficient if not heretical. I think the 90% are correct. Why not show them your support and vote Luther! While you are at it, read about The Catholicity of the Reformation or other Lutheran related books.
The pastor’s cat is a Lutheran cat.
- In an attempt to be biblical, Luther reviewed what should be considered a sacrament. The seven sacraments were settled upon in about the 12th or 13th century. The 16th Century Luther preserved what had been the seven sacraments as ministries of the church, but only two remained as sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Why? Simply put, Jesus commanded these actions, and God’s Word is joined with physical things to become means of grace through faith. Confession almost made the cut, but it has no physical sign attached to it. Lutherans still practice corporate and private confession which Luther called a “healing medicine,” but it isn’t mandated. See, we Lutherans aren’t so different after all…
- Luther had a great sense of humor. Check out The Wit of Martin Luther by Eric W. Gritsch.
- How many Lent Madness participants have polkas made for them? (And seriously, who doesn’t like a good polka? #guiltypleasure)
- Luther was very human and certainly could be hot headed at times. The Lutheran Insulter is a fun tool to get your frustrations out.
- Imperfect as he knew he was, Luther held on to the grace of God even more. He viewed all Christians as simultaneously sinners and saints. When someone was struggling with sin, he advised, “sin boldly, but believe more boldly still.” This is all based upon his concept of justification by faith alone.
- Luther believed Jesus never lied. Jesus died for us and spoke forgiveness to us. He died for our past sins, current sinfulness, and even future sins. We should trust him! To do otherwise is to laugh at or discount his cross. We would believe in our sin more than Christ. (…Not such a good thing, and something I had to learn.)
- Luther said, “Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in his liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him. This he should do freely, having regard for nothing but divine approval.” Loving neighbor was a gift in itself to us, even as it is pleasing to God. We should give ourselves to “Christ in our neighbor” just as Christ gave himself to us. When he had a sick friend write of an illness, Martin Luther heard Christ’s own call to be helped – the living Christ in his friend. Like Christ, we too must carry our crosses – service to others or our own sufferings – with faith. He developed a Theology of the Cross in opposition to a Theology of Glory. There would be no prosperity gospel for Luther. Life is hard, but God is good…always.
- Luther taught that we bear the name of Christ because Christ truly dwells in us, and we in his body the church. He argued we should trust in this reality and live like we believe it is true at all times.
- Luther wasn’t against Christian works; only that they didn’t save. Our works and sufferings are used by God to help faith grow in us and others, and it is used by God to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. We cannot sanctify ourselves. No cheap grace for him, as the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer later expands upon in The Cost of Discipleship and elsewhere. If you appreciate Bonhoeffer’s writings or Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation
and Criticism of Christian Theology, you really should vote for Luther.
- Although Luther was against the mass as a sacrifice or something that gets one extra credit for heaven, he valued and argued to maintain the liturgy when others wanted to punt it. In some Lutheran countries the Lutheran service is still called a mass. Click the picture below to learn about Lutheran worship, “a foundation of faith to everything we do.”
- Luther believed in the priesthood of all believers. “All Christians are truly of the spiritual estate.” You are not defined by any vocation. We are all equally and eternally children of God with important tasks to do on Christ’s behalf.
- Luther tried to empower families to be a little church within the greater church. His Small Catechism was for home use.
- Luther believed if God could speak through an ass against a prophet, God could use any person as a pastor. His Large Catechism was originally written for pastors, but today, it is widely read by people of all kinds of vocations. He argued for an educated pastorate for good order, but pastors are human like everyone else. Your pastoral call is temporary, but you call as a child of God is eternal.
- Vote for Luther! He has his own bobble head. If he wasn’t important, would he have a bobble head?
- If you prefer, show your support with a cute Luther windup toy, then go vote. (Yes, there is a Katie version too.)
- What man doesn’t like to read in the bathroom? That’s a great use of time, and Luther is said to have some of his best ideas come to him there. (This might not be true, but I like to think so…)
- Luther believed in Two Kingdoms. This helped lead to a separation of church and state, a modern polity in the church, as well as our modern democracy.
- Luther believed believers should be actively engaged in civil life, not separated or hidden away. Christians need to be involved in the community and its politics.
- In his Smalcald Articles, he described the saints as currently residing “in their graves and in heaven.” Luther maintained that it was not false doctrine to believe that a Christian’s soul sleeps after it is separated from the body in death, but he also didn’t condemn those who believed in immediate life after death. The bible isn’t clear. In addition, he hated to declare who would be saved and who would not in detail. To do so risked being unbiblical. He trusted those who believed in Jesus would be saved, but beyond that, it is up to God to discern. With our limited intellect and failings, we risk error to do otherwise and dangerously play at being God. He was for people discerning their beliefs based upon scripture, but he didn’t dictate his own beliefs as dogma. Pretty darn nice of him, I think.
- If you haven’t already noticed, Luther hated being unbiblical, sometimes to his detriment –consider the bigamy issue. (See #90.)
- Luther wrote often about the Jewish people, but his attitudes reflected a wrong-headed theological and cultural tradition which saw them as a rejected people guilty of the murder of Christ. At the same time as early as 1516, Luther wrote, “…[M]any people are proud with marvelous stupidity when they call the Jews dogs, evildoers, or whatever they like, while they too, and equally, do not realize who or what they are in the sight of God.” In writings, Luther sometimes advised kindness toward the Jews in that Jesus Christ was born a Jew, but his aim was often converting Jewish believers to Christianity. When Jewish people resisted conversion, he got more and more hard hearted about it. He couldn’t believe with the Reformation that they didn’t see the light of Christ. In short, he was often wrong (aka human) in his offenses. Sad but true, and I hope that this later errors doesn’t stop you from voting for him. He was a man of his time (the Dark Ages to be sure), likely suffering mental illness at the time of his most offensive writings, and no saint is perfect. He did a lot of good too. Can you forgive him this error? I hope so.
- Yes, he was a complicated, sinful person like the rest of us. On one hand, he wrote with promise toward his Jewish neighbors, hopeful they would see the light of the “true faith” lifted up in the Reformation. As he got older, suffered the death of his daughter, and most likely continued bouts of depression and perhaps even had mental issues due to urine poisoning (after a fierce case of urinary track blockage), he wasn’t so kind. He was a product of his time and circumstances to be sure, yet there’s no excuse good enough, and modern Lutherans have issued formal apologies. Too late perhaps for some people, but perhaps it can count for something when evaluating Luther’s legacy (and voting in Lent Madness).
- Printed images of Luther that emphasized his monumental size were crucial to the spread of Protestantism – a large, portly size with double chin indicated he was a common guy, not some frail Catholic saint removed from the real world. Indeed, he was quite popular with the common folk.
- Although not seen as a traditional systematic theologian, his theological writings are quite numerous. He wrote and wrote in response to questions and debates as they came up. His works translated into English are in more than 55 volumes, and they don’t hold everything he wrote! (Try the cd-rom or buy the set.) The Weimar edition of his works began in 1883 and were completed in 2009 with 121 volumes in quarto format (around 80,000 pages). “For Luther theology was not a detached academic pursuit circumscribed by the walls, procedures, customs, and language of the university, but a matter of life and death. He took God seriously. Nothing is more important in man’s life than his relationship to God. The chief function of theology (and of the theologian), then, is not to speculate about God or even to systematize man’s knowledge of God. Rather its function is to lead men to and strengthen them in faith. For Luther faith meant specifically trust in God through Jesus Christ. Inevitably Luther’s classroom extended far beyond the university and the circle of educated students to whom he lectured there” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 42, x).
- He was a reformer of the faith, but the reforms led to other modern changes in government, church, economics and more. Check out Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation, by John Witte, Jr.
- The more he tried to do for God, it seemed, the more aware he became of his sinfulness. When he was young, God seemed not love but hatred. Johann von Staupitz, his spiritual director, advised him to study the mystics, following their path of surrender to the love of God. This helped lead him to Reformation understandings. Who doesn’t like a good conversion story?
- Luther’s “evangelical breakthrough” did not come all at once, but unfolded within the context of his teaching and pastoral responsibilities. However, a turning point came in 1515, when he was lecturing on Romans, in particular the passage on the “righteousness of God” (1:17). If Paul’s Letter to the Romans touches your heart, you’ll probably like Luther and should vote for him. By the way, it is likely fiction that it came to him in a bathroom, but who really knows. Psychologist Eric Erikson took a German phrase uttered by Luther and interpreted it literally to mean Luther was in the bathroom when he had his evangelical breakthrough. Other’s suggest it meant his enlightenment came during a time of melancholy.
- Luther sought to steer a middle way between papists to the right and political radicals and Anabaptists to the left. Thomas Müntzer (1488-1525) taunted Luther as “Dr. Easychair and Dr. Pussyfoot” but names never hurt old Luther. (He certainly hurled them back at times. See #23.) Despite Luther’s own occasional blustering against opponents, he hoped for ultimate reconciliation and unity. I argue that a vote for Luther is a vote for unity.
- Luther wasn’t always certain about what should be done. In the Peasant Rebellion, he saw the need for much change, but he also hated the excesses of violence and unrest. As the revolt broke the peace, Luther ultimately supported the authorities which led to many deaths. Again, do you really expect or want a perfect saint? It is hard being Christian in the real world. Show your forgiveness and vote for Luther.
- Luther’s 1534 Bible translation inspired William Tyndale, who spent time with Martin Luther in Wittenberg. Tyndale’s translation was foundational for the King James Bible. Thus, Luther’s work influenced the King James Version of the Bible, still the most popular English language translation. If you like it, say thank you by voting for Luther!
- Martin Luther had his own PBS documentary, The Reluctant Revolutionary. Could PBS be wrong about Luther being a cool guy? Check it out at PBS or watch an episode here, then vote for Luther.
- He has number of movies about him too, such as the 2003 version with Joseph Fiennes as Luther and Peter Ustinov as Frederick the Wise.
- He has his own comic book or graphic novel (if you prefer).
- The Moravians love Luther, and they commonly use his Large Catechism. They also make tasty cookies.
- John Calvin often spoke of his debt to Luther. If you are of the Reformed tradition, you owe Martin Luther to vote for him. (Just saying…)
- Martin Luther King liked Martin Luther too. In fact, he respected the #BigLutheran so much, he had his own name and the name of his son legally changed from Michael King. We now know his son as Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of the #BigLutheran. Reformers themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would vote for Martin Luther in Lent Madness (if they could).
- Although sharing some similarities in life and faith, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King shouldn’t be confused. Check out this test called “Who said what.” If you like Martin Luther King, Jr., you might just like Martin Luther enough to vote for him during Lent Madness.
- Martin Luther was quite practical. He preached a Sermon on How to Prepare to Die, including both spiritual and practical advice on caring for your loved ones left behind. In another writing dealing with the plague, he urged people to use their heads. Christian mercy required pastors to tend to their flock, but only those needed should risk their lives. If one would do, one should go. We don’t need to needlessly rush into martyrdom.
- Martin Luther understood we lived in a fallen world and there exists a tension between valid use of force and pacifism within Christian ethics. I suggest you read his short piece, Can a soldier too be saved. If you’re a veteran or a police officer, you’ll probably agree with the general thesis of this work. “What men write about war, saying that it is a great plague, is all true. But they should also consider how great the plague is that war prevents.”
- Martin Luther taught a great deal about Christian vocation in the widest of terms. If you are a ditch digger or king, be a Christian in how you live those calls out. Read about Luther on vocation. Your work is sacred when done in love – even if changing diapers – according to Martin Luther.
- His teachings helped lead to spiritual renewal, pietism (a heart centered, lived faith), and indirectly the German revivals and Great Awakenings.
- At the same time, his teachings helped lead to a love of liturgy and orthodoxy (which are not always known for the traits listed in #60.)
- His Luther Rose or Seal is both stylish and theological! Click the seal to learn how.
- Martin Luther was an avid supporter of public education. The Reformation helped lead to more public schools and libraries.
- He was actually humble, often insulting himself and not just others for foibles and failings.
I humbly and subtly try to encourage a fair and unbiased vote from the congregation during Lent madness.
- Luther worked for his keep. He worked as a carpenter, made and sold some beer, and grew food for sale. He was apparently known for his wonderful lettuce, beans, melons and cucumbers. Of course, he also was a professor and pastor. Of course, don’t forget Katie. She had the real business sense.
- Martin Luther has inspired a lot of “Lutheran fun” and merchandise at Old Lutheran.
- It’s fun to be Lutheran, you just have to know how…Dr. Seuss, a Lutheran, would probably vote for Martin Luther if he could. So, don’t be a Grinch. Vote for Luther too! Just for a taste of Lutheran fun, you might like to read One fish, two fish, Lutherans catch fish…and people too!
- Famous, perhaps infamous, and some not so well known people call Luther their friend. Listen to the Lutheran Song by Lost and Found for proof.
- Bach and many other composers loved music and Luther. Ahhhh, Bach!
- Let’s face it. You may not agree with everything he did or said, but he was pretty brave. Stand with him. Vote for him in Lent Madness. #hereIvote
- He’s on twitter, and those not old fashioned at all.
- He’s on Facebook, proof he is cutting edge.
- He inspires laughter. (For good or ill, Lutheran Satire is on Twitter and Facebook and Youtube – not always tastefully done, but it is there.)
- In 2017, it will be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (or Protestant Revolt for you old timer Catholics). Let’s start the party early. After all, some are calling it the Luther Decade. Vote Luther!
- Many of the changes he advocated are today part of Vatican II reforms in the mid-twentieth century. As of 2006, Lutheran, Roman Catholics, and most recently Methodists have signed on to a Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith. (Who would have thunk it possible back in 1517?)
- He didn’t like indulgences nor corruption in the church. Neither should we.
- His advocacy helped bring on what we know as modern, scholarly exegesis of biblical texts.
- He started from a peasant family that made good in mining, but he answered God’s call rather than the call of commerce or law school as his father wanted. Herr Luther was pretty mad…He might be happier if Martin makes a name for himself in Lent Madness.
- Caught in a horrific thunderstorm and terrified that he was going to die, Luther yelled a vow, “Save me, St. Anne, and I shall become a monk.” (St. Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners.) He was good to his word and joined the Augustinians at Erfurt. And yes, St. Anne is in Lent Madness this year. Perhaps it is a sign! Vote for Luther!
- Many of Luther’s teachings echo those of Augustine, a pretty smart dude.
- Luther was a beloved instructor at Wittenberg University and had a Doctor of Theology degree. He was no dummy either.
- He wasn’t a big fan of Greek philosophers, especially the excitement surrounding Aristotle. If you barely survived your college philosophy class(es), vote for Luther! He never cared for “mental gymnastics” in trying to prove a theological point.
- Luther prayed the Apostles’ Creed as do modern Lutherans. He formally believed in the communion of saints, but in searching scripture, he became less than keen on praying to saints or focusing upon saints interacting with us from heaven. In his mind, there was no clear evidence of this in the Bible, so why should one do it when we can cast all our cares on Jesus? He advised against it, instead focusing upon the church on earth, the Holy Congregation in German. See his Large Catechism, Apostles’ Creed, Article III. For similar reasons, he didn’t like all the superstitions and excess related to the veneration of saints and their relics. By the way, he remained a great fan of Mary the Mother of Jesus. Luther often called her the Queen of Heaven, suggested her statue could rightly be in ever church, and wrote Commentary on the Magnificat (1521) where he extolled the magnitude of grace given to Mary and her important Christian example.
- Still, commemorations of “saints” (all those who believe in Christ are considered saints, but some folks are exemplary) remain in the Lutheran faith traditions. We give thanks for their Christian life and witness. Many of those on the Episcopal calendar are commemorated, and even a number of Catholics, Reformed and Methodist Christians can be found on the ELCA’s list.
- Luther took no bull from the pope. When he received the papal bull, Exsurge Domine, threatening excommunication from the church and condemning his works, Luther burned it publically on December 10, 1520. On January 3, 1521, the Bull Decet Romanum officially declared Luther a heretic, as well as his followers, and anyone who from then on accepted or helped Luther and his followers.
- He wasn’t a big fan of the Book of James because it sounded so works oriented, but in reviewing what should be in the canon, he stuck with the opinion of the earlier church.
- Exceptions to this included the books of the Apocrypha. Instead, he went along with the Jewish scholars of his day to help discern what should be canonical.
- If nothing else he was consistent. When a question of divorce or a polygamous marriage came up, he couldn’t find any explicit orders against polygamy in scripture. Indeed, the patriarchs often had multiple spouses. This didn’t go over so big. Learn more about this scandal here.
- Lutherans tend to eat a lot of lutefisk. Feel sorry for us and vote for Luther.
Click here for a recipe! Mmmmm…
- If you voted for Lucy during the early first rounds of Lent Madness, remember that Lutherans (especially Swedish ones) love her…but the many(?) Italian-Irish Lutherans like me love her too. Visit my blog to learn more.
- Many expect MLK, Jr. to pommel Martin Luther in their Lent Madness first round match up. Wouldn’t you like to root for the underdog? We know Americans love conspiracy. Shhhh….pass it along…vote for Luther!
- The Book of Concord, the Lutheran Confessions, is filled with good old fashioned theology. Many of the works included were written by Luther. Even if not Lutheran, you might find helpful theological tidbits.
- Luther said, “Pray and let God worry.” Sage advice during Lent Madness.
- The current Pope Benedict has spoken with some approval of Martin Luther, although he hasn’t become a big fan…yet. I am confident he would forgive…nay, even urge…Roman Catholics and others to vote for Luther in Lent Madness.
- Martin Luther had 95 theses, but the pope wasn’t one.
Although much of the above is most certainly true, I offer it with tongue in cheek. I hope you learn something, maybe laugh a bit…and, oh yeah….VOTE FOR LUTHER!
Remember, you aren’t voting against Martin Luther King, Jr., a remarkable man, but rather supporting someone even he respected and emulated. Neither man was perfect, but I hope you’ll vote for Luther. To me, it seems we simply can do no other. Besides, Lent Madness doesn’t really matter anyway. I doubt ML or MLK care one bit what happens…so why not stand with Luther? #hereIvote
Disclaimer: Please don’t blame my congregation nor denomination for this post. It is only an attempt at humor and polite discourse. Any fault found is my own. If (inspite of my post), you wish to learn more about the ELCA, visit their welcome page, or stop by Messiah Lutheran Church & School’s website.
© 2013 The Rev. Louis Florio. All contents not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.