Quotable Quotes
(on the Scriptures, the Confessions, and the Lutheran Church)

...it is from those books alone of the Scriptures, which are now called canonical, that I have learned to pay them such honor and respect as to believe most firmly that not one of their authors has erred in writing anything at all. If I do find anything in those books which seems contrary to truth, I decide that either the text is corrupt, or the translator did not follow what was really said, or that I failed to understand it. But, when I read other authors, however eminent they may be in sanctity and learning, I do not necessarily believe a thing is true because they think so, but because they have been able to convince me, either on the authority of the canonical writers or by a probable reason which is not inconsistent with truth. ...I will read the Holy Scripture with complete certainty and confidence in its truth, founded as it is on the highest summit of divine authority... The Manichaeans maintain that many parts of the Divine Scriptures are false, because they cannot twist them to a different meaning, but their detestable error is proved by the perfect clarity of scriptural expressions; and even they do not attribute falsehood to the apostolic writers, but to some supposed corrupters of the texts. But, as they could never prove their case by either more texts or older ones, or even by the authority of an older language from which the Latin books were translated, they come out of this argument defeated and put to shame by a truth so well known to all. ... The fact that the truth of the Divine Scriptures, so necessary for building up our faith, has been handed down to our memory not on the authority of any chance writers, but of the Apostles themselves, and has been received with the sanction of the highest canonical authority, and that it remains true in every part and not subject to doubt – this fact has the closest bearing on the question which I have raised. (St. Augustine, Letter 82 [to St. Jerome], The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 12 [Saint Augustine Letters, Volume I] [The Catholic University of America Press, 1951], pp. 392-94)

...it is only to the canonical Scriptures that I owe such a willing submission that I follow them alone, and believe of them that their authors were not in error anywhere at all in them, nor did they set down anything so as to deceive. (St. Augustine, Letter 82 [to St. Jerome], p. 411)

Many people, who do not give much attention to the holy scriptures, think that all the books contained in the Bible should be honored and adored with equal veneration, not knowing how to distinguish among the canonical and non-canonical books, the latter of which the Jews number among the apocrypha. Therefore they often appear ridiculous before the learned; and they are disturbed and scandalized when they hear that someone does not honor something read in the Bible with equal veneration as all the rest. Here, then, we distinguish and number distinctly first the canonical books and then the non-canonical, among which we further distinguish between the certain and the doubtful. The canonical books have been brought about through the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is not known, however, at which time or by which authors the non-canonical or apocryphal books were produced. Since, nevertheless, they are very good and useful, and nothing is found in them which contradicts the canonical books, the church reads them and permits them to be read by the faithful for devotion and edification. Their authority, however, is not considered adequate for proving those things which come into doubt or contention, or for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical dogma, as blessed Jerome states in his prologue to Judith and to the books of Solomon. But the canonical books are of such authority that whatever is contained therein is held to be true firmly and indisputably, and likewise that which is clearly demonstrated from them. For just as in philosophy a truth is known through reduction to self-evident first principles, so too, in the writings handed down from holy teachers, the truth is known, as far as those things that must be held by faith, through reduction to the canonical scriptures that have been produced by divine revelation, which can contain nothing false. Hence, concerning them Augustine says to Jerome: To those writers alone who are called canonical I have learned to offer this reverence and honor: I hold most firmly that none of them has made an error in writing. Thus if I encounter something in them which seems contrary to the truth, I simply think that the manuscript is incorrect, or I wonder whether the translator has discovered what the word means, or whether I have understood it at all. But I read other writers in this way: however much they abound in sanctity or teaching, I do not consider what they say true because they have judged it so, but rather because they have been able to convince me from those canonical authors, or from probable arguments, that it agrees with the truth. (Biblia cum glosa ordinaria et expositione Lyre litterali et morali [Basel: Petri & Froben, 1498], Vol. 1, “On the canonical and non-canonical books of the Bible” [translated by Michael Woodward])

We do not call ourselves Lutherans, but are so styled by our enemies, and we permit it as a token of our consent with the pure teaching of the Word which Luther set forth. We suffer ourselves to bear his name, not as of one who has invented a new faith, but of one who has restored the old, and purified the Church. (Johann Gerhard, Loci XI; quoted in Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and its Theology [Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871], p. 118)

The Evangelical Catholic is a glorious Church; it holds and conforms itself chiefly to the Sacraments. The Evangelical Reformed is a glorious Church; it holds and conforms itself chiefly to the Word of God. More glorious than both is the Evangelical Lutheran Church; it holds and conforms itself both to the Sacraments and the Word of God. Into this Lutheran Church both the others are developing, even without the intentional aid of men. But the way of the ungodly shall perish, says David (Ps. 1:6). (Claus Harms, Theses 92-95 of “Theses of Claus Harms,” Lutheran Cyclopedia [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1899], p. 514)

We do not interpret God’s word by the Creed, neither do we interpret the Creed by God’s word, but interpreting both independently, by the laws of language, and finding that they teach one and the same truth, we heartily acknowledge the Confession as a true exhibition of the faith of the Rule – a true witness to the one, pure, and unchanging faith of the Christian Church, and freely make it our own Confession, as truly as if it had been now first uttered by our lips, or had now first gone forth from our hands. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, p. 169)

We do not claim that our Confessors were infallible. We do not say they could not fail. We only claim that they did not fail. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, p. 186)

The mightiest weapon which the Reformation employed against Rome was, not Rome’s errors, but Rome’s truths. It professed to make no new discoveries, to find no unheard-of interpretations; but taking the Scriptures in that very sense to which the greatest of her writers had assented, uncovering the law and the gospel of God which she retained, applying them as her most distinguished and most honored teachers had applied them – though she made them of none effect by her traditions – the Reformation took into its heart the life-stream of sixteen centuries, and came forth in the stature and strength of a Christianity, grown from infancy in the primitive ages, to the ripened manhood of that maturer period. There was no fear of truth, simply because Rome held it, and no disposition to embrace error, because it might be employed with advantage to Rome’s injury. While it established broadly and deeply the right of private judgment, it did not make that abuse of it which has since been so common. From the position, that the essential truths of the word of God are clear to any Christian mind that examines them properly, it did not leap to the conclusion, that a thousand generations or a thousand examiners were as likely, or more likely, to be wrong than one. They allowed no authority but the word of God, but they listened respectfully to the witness of believers of all time. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, p. 203)

The Symbols of the orthodox Church of Christ are the matured fruits of the deepest devotion, experience and learning of its greatest and wisest members in its most trying ages; and as we may practically learn much from the biographies of the good, so we may learn much more from the Spirit-moved biography of the Church and the principles and testimonies which mark her life of faith. They are the sign-posts set up by the faithful along the King’s highway of salvation to designate the places of danger to those who come after them, to warn and admonish us where we would otherwise be liable to err and miss the goal of our high calling in Christ Jesus. They are not laws to rule our faith, for the Word of God alone is such a Rule; but they are helps and tokens to enable us the more surely to find the true import of the Rule, that we may be all the more thoroughly and sincerely conformed to that Rule. They are the human tracks which the best of the saints have left, by which we may the better detect the way which God has laid out and opened for the fallen and sinful children of men to travel, that they may fill their Christian vocation and come to everlasting life. (Joseph A. Seiss, “Our Confessions in English,” Lutheran Church Review, Vol. I, No. 3 [July 1882], p. 216)

The Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord clarify, as precisely as human language allows, what the Bible teaches about God, sin, Christ, justification, church and ministry, repentance, the sacraments, free will, good works, and other articles of faith. They identify abuses in doctrine and practice, and most clearly state what Lutherans do not believe, teach, and confess. They are declarations of belief, making clear that Lutherans have convictions which are not open to question. The confessions clarify the Lutheran concern that only the Word be taught. Soon after its initial publication the Book of Concord became the standard in doctrinal confrontations with Roman Catholics and with Calvinists. Where a Lutheran position seemed unclear or uncertain, the Book of Concord became a reference point for the authentic Lutheran view. Whereas the writings of Luther, as notable as they are, reveal the insights of one man, the Book of Concord expresses of the theology for the whole Lutheran movement. (James F. Korthals, “Publication of the Book of Concord – 425th Anniversary,” Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly Vol. 102, No. 3 [Summer 2005], pp. 227-28)

It is a real joy to be able to say, in gratitude to God, that we have invariably got the impression that they [the Missourians] are all possessed of the same spirit that prevails in the university [Concordia College and Seminary]: a heartfelt trust in God, a sincere love for the symbols [the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions] and the doctrines of the fathers, and a belief that in them His holy Word is rightly explained and interpreted, and therefore a sacrificial, burning zeal to apply these old-Lutheran principles of doctrine and order. May the Lord graciously revive this spirit throughout the entire Lutheran church, so that those who call themselves Lutherans may no longer wrangle over questions settled by the Lutheran Confessions. May they rather show their true Lutheranism by truly believing that God’s Word is taught rightly and without error in the Lutheran Confessions. Otherwise, the Lutheran name is but duplicity and hypocrisy. The genuine, old-Lutheran spirit is upheld and disseminated with equal fidelity at the other institution of this church, the Fort Wayne Seminary... (Jakob Aall Ottesen and Nils O. Brandt, “Indberetning fra Pastorerne Ottesen og Brandt om deres Reise til St. Louis, Missouri; Columbus, Ohio; og Buffalo, New York” [1857]; in Carl S. Meyer, Pioneers Find Friends [Decorah, Iowa: Luther College Press, 1963], p. 63)

If we would help our congregations, if we would strengthen them in the knowledge of the truth and harden them against spiritual temptations and attacks, then it is the old truths of God’s Word which must be brought into their hearts and consciences. The study of our fathers’ confessions will be a powerful means toward that. They were Lutherans. They didn’t just say so, for they fed their faith and their minds only on that which “is written.” If we mean anything by it when we sing that “God’s Word is our great heritage, and shall be ours forever,” then we will also do what we can to preserve that heritage. The use of the Book of Concord will serve that purpose. (Ulrik Vilhelm Koren, U. V. Koren’s Works, Vol. 4, p. 325)

I have learned to ascribe the honor of infallibility only to those books that are accepted as canonical. I am profoundly convinced that none of these writers have erred. (Martin Luther, WA 2, 618; quoted in Willem Jan Kooiman, Luther and the Bible [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961], p. 78)

In matters of faith, which affect the nature and will of God and our salvation, we must close our eyes, ears, and other senses and listen solely and intently to what and how scripture speaks about these things. We must wrap ourselves simply in God’s Word and be directed by it. We may not attempt to follow our own insights or measure scripture by them. (Martin Luther, WA 54, 158; quoted in Kooiman, p. 229)

The knowledge of lawyers and poets comes from reason and may, in turn, be understood and grasped by reason. But what Moses and the prophets teach does not stem from reason and the wisdom of men. Therefore he who presumes to comprehend Moses and the prophets with his reason and to measure and evaluate Scripture according to its agreement with reason will get away from the Bible entirely. From the very beginning all heretics owed their rise to the notion that what they had read in Scripture they were at liberty to explain according to the teachings of reason. (Martin Luther, Sermon on Luke 2:21; quoted in What Luther Says [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959], p. 1165)

...Christ...says in Matt. 5[:15], “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Christ allowed his hands, his feet, his sides to be touched so that the disciples might be sure that it was he, himself [John 20:27]. Why, then, should we not touch and examine the Scriptures – which are in truth the spiritual body of Christ – to make sure whether we believe in them or not? For all other writings are treacherous; they may be spirits in the air [cf. Eph. 2:2] which have no flesh or bone, as Christ had. This is my answer to those also who accuse me of rejecting all the holy teachers of the church. I do not reject them. But everyone, indeed, knows that at times they have erred, as men will; therefore, I am ready to trust them only when they give me evidence for their opinions from Scripture, which has never erred. This St. Paul bids me to do in I Thess. 5:21, where he says, “Test everything; hold fast what is good.” St. Augustine writes to St. Jerome to the same effect, “I have learned to do only those books that are called the holy Scriptures the honor of believing firmly that none of their writers has ever erred. All others I so read as not to hold what they say to be the truth unless they prove it to me by holy Scripture or clear reason.” Holy Scripture must necessarily be clearer, simpler, and more reliable than any other writings. Especially since all teachers verify their own statements through the Scriptures as clearer and more reliable writings, and desire their own writings to be confirmed and explained by them. But nobody can ever substantiate an obscure saying by one that is more obscure; therefore, necessity forces us to run to the Bible with the writings of all teachers, and to obtain there a verdict and judgment upon them. Scripture alone is the true lord and master of all writings and doctrine on earth. If that is not granted, what is Scripture good for? (Martin Luther, “Defense and Explanation of All the Articles,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 32 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1958], pp. 11-12)

I have stated, that one does not ask how the saints have lived and written, but how the Scriptures indicate that we ought to live. The question is not about what has been done, but about how it is supposed to be done. The saints could err in their writings and sin in their lives, but the Scriptures cannot err, and whoever believes them cannot sin in his life. (Martin Luther, “The Misuse of the Mass,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 36 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959], p. 137)

The Word is so irreproachable that not a single iota can err in the Law or the divine promises. For that reason we must yield to no sect, not even in one tittle of Scripture, no matter how much they clamor and accuse us of violating love when we hold so strictly to the Word. (Martin Luther, “Psalm 45,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 12 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955], p. 242)

That Adam was created on the sixth day, that the animals were brought to him, that he heard the Lord giving him a command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that the Lord sent a sleep upon him – all these facts clearly refer to time and physical life. Therefore it is necessary to understand these days as actual days, contrary to the opinion of the holy fathers. Whenever we see that the opinions of the fathers are not in agreement with Scripture, we respectfully bear with them and acknowledge them as our forefathers; but we do not on their account give up the authority of Scripture. Aristotle’s statement in the first book of his Ethics is well put and true: “Better it is to defend the truth than to be too much devoted to those who are our friends and relatives.” And this is, above all, the proper attitude for a philosopher. For although both, truth and friends, are dear to us, preference must be given to truth. If a pagan maintains that this must be the attitude in secular discourses, how much more must it be our attitude in those which involve the clear witness of Scripture, that we dare not give preference to the authority of men over that of Scripture! Human beings can err, but the Word of God is the very wisdom of God and the absolutely infallible truth. (Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 1 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1958], p. 122)

...man was created for another purpose than the rest of the living beings. Because the church is established by the Word of God, it is certain that man was created for an immortal and spiritual life, to which he would have been carried off or translated without death after living in Eden and on the rest of the earth without inconvenience as long as he wished. There would not have been in him that detestable lust which is now in men, but there would have been the innocent and pure love of sex toward sex. Procreation would have taken place without any depravity, as an act of obedience. Mothers would have given birth without pain. Infants would not have been brought up in such a wretched manner and with such great toil. But who can describe in words the glory of the innocence we have lost? (Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 1, p. 104)

After the Flood, when the ungodly descendants of Ham had suddenly increased and were filling everything with offenses, Noah, together with his son Shem and his grandsons, guided the church. This shows that the article of our creed is true when we believe one, holy, catholic church in all ages, from the beginning of the world until the end of the world. God has always preserved for Himself a people which retained the Word and would be the guardians of religion and of sound doctrine in the world, lest everything degenerate into impiety and there be no knowledge of God among men. This catalog of the fathers teaches us the principle point that God has never altogether abandoned the church, although on some occasions it was larger and on others smaller, just as also on some occasions its teaching was purer and on others more obscure. Let us sustain ourselves with this hope against the great wickedness of the world and of the opponents of the Word. So Christ also consoles us (Mt 24:22) that the days of the last time will be shortened for the sake of the godly, namely, that the church will be preserved and Antichrist will not overwhelm everything with error and falsehood. These grandsons of Shem were heirs of the promise concerning Christ, which God wanted them to conserve and defend, in order that there might be people among whom the church or the Word might be found. Nor is it possible to separate these: where the Word is, there the church is, there the Spirit is, there Christ is, and everything. (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 11.10)

It is altogether evident, that none of the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures have been intermixed with error; no deceit has come out of them for anyone – since they have been written under the inspiration of, and brought to mind by, the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Truth)... (The Tübingen Theologians [including Jacob Andreae], The First Reply to the First Answer of Patriarch Jeremiah [1577], in George Mastrantonis, Augsburg and Constantinople [Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1982], pp. 110-11)

The witness of the entire holy Christian church (even if we had nothing else) should be enough for us to maintain this doctrine and neither to listen to nor tolerate any sectarian objections. For it is dangerous and terrible to hear or believe anything contrary to the common witness, faith, and doctrine which the entire holy Christian church has maintained from the beginning until now – for more than 1500 years throughout all the world. (Martin Luther, WA 30-III, 552; quoted in Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966], pp. 334-35)

Since God has here [in the death of Zwingli] shown us his terrible judgments, in thus fearfully chastising such fatal errors, and at the same time confirming the truth of our faith, it is time to cease all disputation and doubt. Moreover, this doctrine is not an Article, or thesis, beyond the Scriptures, the invention of man, but established in the gospel by the clear and undoubted words of Christ, and unanimously believed and held in all the world, from the foundation of the Christian church to this hour, as is shown in the writings of the fathers, in both the Greek and Latin languages, as also in our experience of its blessed effects, in the daily celebration of the Sacrament; which testimony of the entire Holy Catholic church, even if we had nothing more, would alone be sufficient to warrant our adherence to this Article, and lending no ear to wild fanatics. For it is terrible and dangerous to believe or listen to what is contrary to the united testimony or doctrine of the entire holy Catholic church, maintained and published throughout the world during fifteen hundred years. I had rather have against me the testimony of all fanatics, and all the wisdom of Emperors, Kings and Princes, than one iota or tittle of the entire Holy Catholic church. For articles of faith thus unanimously and universally maintained, may not be trifled with, like Papal bulls, or Imperial decrees, or even human traditions of Councils or the Fathers. (WA 30-III, 552; quoted in Gustavus Pfizer, The Life of Luther, with Notices and Extracts of his Popular Writings [translated by T. S. Williams] [London: The Society for the Promotion of Popular Instruction, 1840], p. 160)

...when the fathers teach something, they do not trust their own teaching. They are afraid it is too obscure and too uncertain; they run to Scripture and take a clear passage from it to illumine their own point, just as one puts a light into a lantern, as Psalm 18[:28] says, “Lord, you light my lantern.” In the same way, when they interpret a passage in Scripture they do not do so with their own sense or words (for whenever they do that, as often happens, they generally err). Instead, they add another passage which is clearer and thus illumine and interpret Scripture with Scripture, as my goats [my theological opponents] would certainly discover if they would read the fathers correctly. But since they run around everywhere and look at neither Scripture nor the fathers correctly, it is no wonder that they do not know what Scripture or the fathers teach.
I cannot tolerate their slandering and blaspheming Scripture and the holy fathers. They accuse Scripture of being obscure, although all the fathers attribute the brightest light to it and draw from it, as David says in Psalm 119[:105], “Your word is my light.” Again, they attribute to the fathers the light with which to illumine Scripture, even though all the fathers confess their own obscurity and only illumine Scripture with Scripture. That is the real art, to gather Scripture correctly. The father who can do this best is the best father. One should read the books of all the fathers with caution, not believing them but rather watching out whether they also cite clear passages and illumine Scripture with clear Scripture. How could they have overcome the heretics if they had fought with their own glosses? They would have been regarded as fools and senseless people. But since they cited such clear passages, which did not need glosses, then all reason was captivated by them, the evil spirit himself, along with all the heresies, had to retreat before them. (Martin Luther, “Answer to the Hyperchristian, Hyperspiritual, and Hyperlearned Book by Goat Emser in Leipzig,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 39 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970], pp. 164-65).

If some were to teach doctrines contradicting an article of faith clearly grounded in Scripture and believed throughout the world by all Christendom, such as the articles we teach children in the Creed – for example, if anyone were to teach that Christ is not God, but a mere man and like other prophets, as the Turks and the Anabaptists hold – such teachers should not be tolerated... For they are not mere heretics but open blasphemers... With their blasphemy such teachers defame the name of God... In like manner, ...those [should not be tolerated] who teach that Christ did not die for our sins, but that everyone shall make his own satisfaction for them. For that, too, is blasphemy against the Gospel and against the article we pray in the Creed: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins” and “in Jesus Christ, dead and risen.” Those should be treated in the same way who teach that the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting are nothing, that there is no hell, and like things, as did the Sadducees and the Epicureans, of whom many are now arising among the great wiseacres. ... We are told that when the holy fathers at the Council of Nicea heard the doctrine of the Arians read, all hissed unanimously, and would not listen or permit any argument or defense but condemned them out of hand, without disputation, as blasphemers. ... So, in this case, there ought not to be much disputing; but such open blasphemers should be condemned without a hearing and without defense, as Paul commands (Titus 3:10): “A heretic is to be avoided and let go, after he has been admonished once or twice”; and he forbids Timothy to wrangle and dispute, since this has no effect, except to pervert those who hear (1 Tim. 6:20). For these common articles of all Christendom have had hearing enough. They have been proved and decreed by the Scriptures and by the confession of the whole church, confirmed by many miracles, and sealed by the blood of many holy martyrs. They are testified to and defended in the books of all the doctors. They need no more discussion and clever interpretation. (Martin Luther, “Psalm 82,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 13 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956], pp. 61-62)

It is true, I admit, that the church in which you sit [the Papal or Roman Church] derives from the ancient church as well as we, and that you have the same baptism, the sacraments, the keys, and the text of the Bible and gospels. I will praise you even further and admit that we have received everything from the church before you (not from you). ... We do not regard you as Turks and Jews (as was said above) who are outside the church. But we say you do not remain in it but become the erring, apostate, whorelike church (as the prophets used to call it), which does not remain in the church, where it was born and brought up. You run away from this church and from your true husband and bridegroom (as Hosea says of the people of Israel [Hos. 1:2]) to the devil Baal, to Molech and Astaroth. (Martin Luther, “Against Hanswurst,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 41 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966], p. 207)

[Deuteronomy 1:]13: Choose wise men. Beasts are managed by power and skill. Men should be ruled by wisdom and understanding, since man thrives on reason, which cannot be assaulted with a rope or brandished sword but through a word directed to the ear. And when reason has been grasped through a word, the whole man is moved and led wherever you wish. Here you see that the magistrates should be chosen by the votes of the people, as reason also demands. Therefore this nation, too, is taken in charge by this means through the word of Moses, and it gladly follows and praises Moses. For to thrust government upon a people against its will is dangerous or destructive. He calls them “known” because they should be known among the people; much more, however, because they should be experienced and acquainted with affairs, so that you may understand well-known and knowledgeable to be the same. They are the wise men who understand affairs divine and human, especially those who know the statutes and laws and all that is necessary for the life of the people. (Martin Luther, “Lectures on Deuteronomy,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 9 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1960], p. 18)

...it is the duty of subjects to obey. They must diligently and carefully do or leave undone what their superiors desire of them, and not allow themselves to be dragged or driven from this task, regardless of what others do. Let no man think that he is living properly or that he is doing good works, be it praying or fasting or whatever, if he does not earnestly and diligently discipline himself in this matter of obedience. But if, as often happens, the temporal power and authorities, or whatever they call themselves, would compel a subject to do something contrary to the command of God, or hinder him from doing what God commands, obedience ends and the obligation ceases. In such a case a man has to say what St. Peter said to the rulers of the Jews, “We must obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. He did not say, “We must not obey men,” for that would be wrong. He said, “God rather than men.” [It is] as if a prince desired to go to war, and his cause was clearly unrighteous; we should neither follow nor help such a prince, because God has commanded us not to kill our neighbor or do him a wrong. Likewise, if the prince were to order us to bear false witness, steal, lie or deceive, and the like, [we should refuse]. In such cases we should indeed give up our property and honor, our life and limb, so that God’s commandments remain. (Martin Luther, “Treatise on Good Works,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 44 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966], p. 100)

...if war breaks out – which God forbid – I will not reprove those who defend themselves against the murderous and bloodthirsty papists, nor let anyone else rebuke them as being seditious, but I will accept their action and let it pass as self-defense. I will direct them in this matter to the law and to the jurists. For in such an instance, when the murderers and bloodhounds wish to wage war and to murder, it is in truth no insurrection to rise against them and defend oneself. ... A Christian knows very will what he is to do – namely, to render to God the things that are God’s and to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s [Matt. 22:21], but not to render to the bloodhounds the things that are not theirs. I want to make a distinction between sedition and other acts and to deprive the bloodhounds of the pretext of boasting that they are warring against rebellious people and that they were justified according to both human and divine law; for so the little kitten is fond of grooming and adorning itself. Likewise, I do not want to leave the conscience of the people burdened by the concern and worry that their self-defense might be rebellious. ... We must not let everything be considered rebellious which the bloodhounds designate as such. For in that way they want to silence the lips and tie the hands of the entire world, so that no one may either reprove them with preaching or defend himself with his fist, while they keep their mouth open and their hands free. Thus they want to frighten and ensnare all the world with the name “insurrection,” and at the same time comfort and reassure themselves. No, dear fellow, we must submit to you a different interpretation and definition of that term. To act contrary to law is not rebellion; otherwise every violation of the law would be rebellion. No, he is an insurrectionist who refuses to submit to government and law, who attacks and fights against them, and attempts to overthrow them with a view to making himself ruler and establishing the law, as Münzer did; that is the true definition of a rebel. Aliud est invasor, aliud transgressor [“An invader is one thing, a transgressor is another”]. In accordance with this definition, serf-defense against the bloodhounds cannot be rebellious. For the papists are deliberately starting the war; they refuse to keep the peace, they do not let others rest who would like to live in peace. Thus the papists are much closer to the name and the quality which is termed rebellion. (Martin Luther, “Dr. Martin Luther’s Warning to His Dear German People,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 47 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 19-20)

If the emperor should issue a call to arms against us on behalf of the pope or because of our teaching, as the papists at present horribly gloat and boast – though I do not yet expect this of the emperor – no one should lend himself to it or obey the emperor in this event. All may rest assured that God has strictly forbidden compliance with such a command of the emperor. Whoever does obey him can be certain that he is disobedient to God and will lose both body and soul eternally in the war. For in this ease the emperor would not only act in contravention of God and divine law but also in violation of his own imperial law, vow, duty, seal, and edicts. (Martin Luther, “Dr. Martin Luther’s Warning to His Dear German People,” p. 30)

When you are baptized, partake of Holy Communion, receive the absolution, or listen to a sermon, heaven is open, and we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father; all these works descend upon us from the open heaven above us. God converses with us, provides for us; and Christ hovers over us – but invisibly. And even though there were clouds above us as impervious as iron or steel, obstructing our view of heaven, this would not matter. Still we hear God speaking to us from heaven; we call and cry to Him, and He answers us. Heaven is open, as St. Stephen saw it open (Acts 7:55); and we hear God when He addresses us in Baptism, in Holy Communion, in confession, and in His Word as it proceeds from the mouth of the men who proclaim His message to the people. (Martin Luther, January 19, 1538; Luther’s Works, Vol. 22, p. 202)

For where a Christian is diligent, possessing nothing more than the catechism – the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the words of our Lord about Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar – he could defend himself very nicely with them and hold his own against all heresies. No better word or doctrine will arise than what has been summed up in the catechism from Holy Scripture. Therefore, we ought faithfully cling to it so that when a heretic or fanatic appears with his contrary teaching, we can counter it and say that it is not true teaching, for it is not in harmony with my catechism. (Martin Luther, Trinity VIII, Luther’s House Postils, Vol. II, p. 343; punctuation slightly revised)

The Spirit reserves much for Himself, so that we may always remain His pupils. There is much that He reveals only to lure us on, much that He gives only to stir us up. And, as Augustine has put it so clearly, if no human being has ever spoken in such a way that everyone understood him in all particulars, how much more is it true that the Holy Spirit alone has an understanding of all His own words! Therefore I must openly admit that I do not know whether I have the accurate interpretation of the psalms or not, though I do not doubt that the one I set forth is an orthodox one. For everything that blessed Augustine, Jerome, Athanasius, Hilary, Cassiodorus, and others assembled in their expositions of the Psalter was also quite orthodox, but very far removed from the literal sense. ... I have now come to the conclusion that as long as someone else’s interpretation is pious, one should not reject it unless he wants his own to be rejected in turn, according to “the law of the fang.” One falls short in some ways, another in more ways. I see some things that blessed Augustine did not see; on the other hand, I know that others will see many things that I do not see. What recourse do we have but to be of mutual help to one another and to forgive those who fall, since we ourselves have already fallen or are about to fall? Otherwise we shall be adjudged as members of that wicked and corrupt class of men who cannot do anything worthwhile themselves but celebrate Pompeian triumphs if they can catch some more illustrious person in a trivial mistake. I know that a person would be guilty of the most shameless boldness if he dared claim that he had understood even one book of the Scriptures in all its parts. In fact, who would even dare assert that anyone had completely understood one single psalm? (Martin Luther, “Psalms 1 and 2,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 14 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1958), p. 284)

I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber. However, this ought not be taught to the common people, lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter, and I recommend that the popular custom be strictly adhered to according to which it [the suicide’s corpse] is not carried over the threshold, etc. Such persons do not die by free choice or by law, but our Lord God will dispatch them as he executes a person through a robber. Magistrates should treat them quite strictly, although it is not plain that their souls are damned. However, they are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence he must teach us in this way. (Martin Luther, Table Talk #222 [April 7, 1532], Luther’s Works, Vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967). p. 29)

There should be no trifling with those who are pregnant, but they should be the objects of special care because of the fetus. For there are countless dangers of miscarriages...and various deformities. ... They should be kept from intense strains, whether physical or emotional. For those who have no regard for pregnant women and do not spare the tender fetus become murderers and infanticides. (Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 5, p. 381)

...so-called civil law contains many things which are obviously human affections rather than natural laws. For what is more foreign to nature than slavery? ... A good man will temper civil constitutions with right and justice, that is, with both divine and natural laws. Anything that is enacted contrary to divine or natural laws cannot be just. (Philip Melanchthon, “Loci Communes” [1521], Melanchthon and Bucer [edited by Wilhelm Pauck] [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969], p. 53)

Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in that it lays great emphasis on the fact that the evangelical church is none other than the medieval Catholic Church purged of certain heresies and abuses. The Lutheran theologian acknowledges that he belongs to the same visible church to which Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine and Tertullian, Athanasius and Irenaeus once belonged. The orthodox evangelical church is the legitimate continuation of the medieval Catholic Church, not the church of the Council of Trent and the [First] Vatican Council which renounced evangelical truth when it rejected the Reformation. For the orthodox evangelical church is really identical with the orthodox Catholic Church of all times. And just as the very nature of the Reformed Church emphasizes its strong opposition to the medieval church, so the very nature of the Lutheran Church requires it to go to the farthest possible limit in its insistence on its solidarity and identity with the Catholic Church. It was no mere ecclesiastico-political diplomacy which dictated the emphatic assertion in the Augsburg Confession that the teachings of the Evangelicals were identical with those of the orthodox Catholic Church of all ages, and no more was it romanticism or false conservatism which made our church anxious to retain as much of the old canonical law as possible, and to cling tenaciously to the old forms of worship. (Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand [New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938], pp. 110-11)

The Primitive Church knew everything that is stated in the Nicene Creed. But only the titanic struggle with the paganism of antiquity enabled the Church of that period fully to recognize the importance of the true Godhead and the true manhood of Jesus Christ, and to declare this in its doctrine of the homoousia. In this and no other sense should it be understood when we speak of progress in the knowledge of faith.” (Hermann Sasse, “On the Problem of the Relation Between the Ministry and the Congregation” [translated by E. Reim], Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1 [January 1950], p. 21)

...the formation of creeds did not begin because of the initiative of men, but because of the will and deed of the Lord of the Church. It was Jesus Christ Himself who asked His disciples: “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” [Mark 8:27] and who then held them to the question with a request for an answer that would admit of no other interpretation: “But whom do ye say that I am?” [v. 29]. Because of this question from the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, which was repeated in another form, Matt. 22:42, lt is Jesus Himself who originated the formation of creeds and who therefore, if one will have it so, is the founder of Christian dogmatics. For so Paul (1 Tim. 6:13) speaks of “Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession,” namely, by the answer He gave to this human judge who inquired who He might be, an answer which, as the words indicate, also made Him the first “martyr.” Therefore the Church’s confession is in its innermost nature an answer to a question. It is the answer of faith to the question which is posed by the revelation of Jesus Christ, the question: Who is He? No one else than Jesus Himself puts this question to us. He addresses it to all men who are reached by His Gospel: to His disciples as well as to the Church of every century; to the great thinkers, the philosophers and the historians of every age, as well as to the little child who is just learning to fold his hands and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”; to the Christians of the ancient churches as well as to those people who in some mission field are hearing this message for the first time. No man can escape giving an answer to this question, be that answer what it may. And the confessions of the Church seek to be nothing more than an answer to that same question. (Hermann Sasse, “The Nature of Confession in the Church” [translated by E. Reim], Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vol. 1, 1948-1951 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013], pp. 24-25)

A confession...has...a double function: to gather and to separate. The latter purpose of the confessions, which is so often placed into the foreground – namely, to exclude error from the Church – is merely the counterpart of its function of gathering. The Church congregates around the confession. It may be said – indeed, is said again and again – that thereby one is placing too high an evaluation on confession; that the true Church does not gather around a creed but around the Holy Scriptures. Of course the Church gathers around Scripture, but around a Scripture that is rightly understood. For all churches gather around Scripture as such, even all heresies. But by answering the Gospel question as to the person of Jesus, the Confession sets forth the true understanding of Scripture in contrast to the heretic’s understanding of the same Scripture. (Hermann Sasse, “The Nature of Confession in the Church” [translated by E. Reim], Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vol. 1, 1948-1951 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013], p. 26. Emphasis in original.)

...in every living church there must be room for a variety of theological thinkers, provided they are in agreement as to the dogma of the church. Thus, a difference of interest in, or emphasis on, certain points of doctrine, and even a difference of expression, could well be tolerated. Luther always felt that he and his learned friend [Melanchthon] supplemented each other. As Melanchthon had learned from him, so he had learned from Melanchthon. It has great significance for the Lutheran church that its Confessions were not written by Luther alone. As Melanchthon’s Augsburg Confession, Apology, and Tractatus are happily supplemented by Luther’s Smalcald Articles and Catechisms, so even the Formula of Concord was written by disciples of Melanchthon and of Luther. This variety in expression of one and the same truth gave the Lutheran Confessions a richness which the confessions of other churches do not possess. Nothing is more significant for the Lutheran church’s independence of human authority than the fact that Luther approved of the Augsburg Confession although he clearly stated that he would have written it in a totally different way. It is the doctrine of the Gospel that matters, and not human theology. (Hermann Sasse, This is my body [revised edition] [Adelaide, South Australia: Lutheran Publishing House, 1977], p. 253)

...in the moment we set up a doctrine which the Scripture does not actually proclaim we have crossed the dividing line between theology and philosophy, and have left the sola Scriptura (the Scripture alone). That is the danger which all Bible-believing and confessionally faithful theology must again and again guard against. And for that reason we must always again and again inspect the trains of thought of also such theologians of whose orthodoxy we have no doubt. ... We all suffer from the fact that we cannot devote more time to this important task. For success depends after all on this, that we on all sides think these problems through anew and not just repeat the old formulae and slogans. ... We must all try to read the statements of the Scripture, on which we must make our decisions, afresh, and not always only in the pattern of our theological traditions. It is naturally easiest and the most comfortable thing to do: to stay with what we have always said and wait until the other party says the same thing. But that can be the correct method only if we actually are championing only God’s Word and not, in addition, our own theological tradition’s opinion. (Hermann Sasse, Letter to Frederick Noack [1 Nov. 1951], in Scripture and the Church: Selected Essays of Hermann Sasse [Saint Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1995], pp. 172-73)

It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls. (C. F. W. Walther, “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872], Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I)

The Book of Concord should also be in every Lutheran home. ...pastors should see to it that every home has one. ... If a person isn’t familiar with this book, he’ll think, “That old book is just for pastors. I don’t have to preach. After plowing all day, I can’t sit down and study in the evening. If I read my morning and evening devotions, that’s enough.” No, that is not enough! The Lord doesn’t want us to remain children, blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others... (C. F. W. Walther, “Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod” [1879], Essays for the Church, Vol. II, p. 51)

It must be added that unity of faith and doctrine in the Church is not a perfect and absolute one in this life; for at times controversies occur between members of the true Church through which this holy unity is torn. We therefore have to distinguish between that absolute, perfect unity, free from every form of disharmony, which is found nowhere except in the Church Triumphant, and that fundamental unity, which consists in agreement concerning the principal articles of doctrine, while with respect to a few less important points of faith (fidei capitibus) or to ceremonies which are a matter of indifference or to the interpretation of some Scripture passages controversies will arise. And this is the unity obtaining in the Church Militant; for in this Church there is never found such a definite harmony that no disagreements arise in it. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part,” 1 Cor. 13:9. ... The truly pious are not yet perfectly renewed but retain remnants of the flesh. Hence they do not arrive at an accurate and perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith but err and waver with respect to some of them. The flesh in the regenerate still strives against the spirit, for which reason it can easily happen, especially if the temptation of the devil also enters, that, giving way to wrong, carnal ideas, they create dissensions in the Church; however, if they do not become guilty of stubbornness and if the foundation is not shaken, they are not at once cut off from the body of the Church on this account. This is proved by the examples given in Acts 11:2; Gal. 2:11; Acts 15:39. In the Corinthian church divisions had arisen, profanations of the Eucharist had crept in, there were acrimonious debates about adiaphora, some persons doubted the article of the resurrection, etc.; in spite of all this, however, Paul does not refuse to call the assembly a church, but in addressing it, he terms it still a church of God, 1 Cor. 1:2. In the church of the Galatians the article of justification had been corrupted through the adulterations of false apostles; but since the members were still open to instruction and some of them still retained the true faith, Paul still calls the Galatian congregations, churches, Gal. 1: 2. ... Hence it is certain that a total and real absolute unity cannot be hoped for in this life. And therefore not every disagreement at once dissolves union and unity in the Church. (John Gerhard, Loc. de Eccles., 5, 231; quoted in C. F. W. Walther, “The False Arguments for the Modern Theory of Open Questions” [Die falschen Stuetzen der modernen Theorie von den offenen Fragen], Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. 10 [1939], No. 5, pp. 351-52 [translated by William Arndt and Alexander Guebert])

Alas, dear brethren, how often do we not get into arguments and quarrels! Therefore, when I notice that if I carry the fight out to its bitter end our whole communion will suffer as a result, then – unless God’s honor and the salvation of souls are at stake – I should say, “Let’s drop this subject. It is clear that we can’t reach any agreement. Let us not destroy our precious fraternal harmony.” Everyone must keep this in mind: When people get worked up at conferences or conventions, you must immediately ask yourself, “Where will this end?” Then the officials have to say, “This will never do; there will be no further discussion of this subject, because it is not only a matter of someone’s feelings getting hurt, but the devil is trying to rob Synod of its precious possession.” When someone has gone too far but says, “Dear brother, I didn’t intend to be so mean,” I should immediately forgive him. But if I would respond, “Do you realize the full enormity of your conduct? Do you really repent of what you’ve done?” then I am being too legalistic (da wird die Goldwage genommen). That is wrong. We should not do that unless the offender has clearly demonstrated that he is a hardened and unrepentant sinner. In that case we must firmly inform him, “If you do not repent of your sin, you are lost.” ... Two men in a Synod/District may disagree about something, and that disagreement can easily become a fire that inflames the entire Synod/District, for both of them then often try to gather support for their own position. We cannot prevent bitter thoughts from arising. Unfortunately our hearts are such touchy tinder that such sparks can immediately start a fire; but we should immediately get water and put it out. ... As important as it is to be concerned with purity of doctrine, we dare not become irrational about it. If a member of a communion says something that is not correct, we must avoid attacking him immediately as a heretic. ... Very sternly the apostle Paul writes, “Let there be no divisions among you!” [1 Cor. 1:10], and then he sharply rebukes [the Corinthians] because there already were divisions among them, and he adds, “Those who make divisions are carnal” [1 Cor. 3:3]. Let us take that to heart! Let us watch and pray that no unnecessary disputes will ever arise and be fostered, and that no one will go public in uncertain matters until he has informed others about it, so that, whenever possible, the fire can be quenched. ... Only when God’s glory or the salvation of souls are clearly at stake, then we must engage in battle, even if it means the destruction of a synod that previously enjoyed God’s blessing. What does God care about a synod, when the saving truth hangs in the balance? When it comes to insignificant matters that have nothing to do with the salvation of immortal souls, we should never get involved in a serious dispute. But if someone who is always itching for a fight starts one, we must firmly put such a fellow in his place. Appropriate is 2 Tim. 2:14: “...warn them before God against quarreling about words.” A person may express an idea in a way that is completely wrong, even though he intended to say the right thing. That is why Gerhard writes: “It is wicked to interpret a poor choice of words as error, when you know that the right meaning was intended” (Locus on Good Works, sec. 38). Let us avoid ever doing that in this District! When someone makes “a poor choice of words,” we should avoid immediately labeling him as either a heretic or a false teacher. If necessary, we should instead correct him gently. (C. F. W. Walther, “Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod,” Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. II, pp. 57-59)

The church depends upon the faithful use of this Word both for gathering people into its fold, and for edifying them in the Gospel of Christ. Other means for the accomplishing of these purposes may seem more popular. But nothing can take the place of the Bible, inasmuch as it alone presents the Lord Jesus and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the only effective instrument in reaching and regenerating human souls. (A. A. Zinck, What a Church Member Should Know [Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1937], p. 20)

It is not only the European churches bearing the Lutheran name which are so under the spell of Barthian theology that they imagine, the only way to ensconce themselves against the threats of a resurgent Rome is to unite so-called Evangelicals; that spirit of surrendering the sola Scriptura of a Luther and his fellow reformers is making itself felt throughout large sections of American Lutheranism. And what is at the root of it all? May it not be that there has been too little study of Martin Luther in our seminaries of late, too little searching of that monument to the Christian faith, the Book of Concord? ... What was it that made a Walther the tower of strength which he became in our American Lutheran Zion? Walther was an assiduous student of Luther, even as a Luther had been but an humble follower of Paul. Yes, we hear ever so often, even within our Synodical Conference: “Let us forget the fathers, and get back to Scripture.” Again that may sound very pious and praiseworthy. But what if Scripture, to which they appeal, has something to say about those fathers who have spoken unto us the word of God? Can we then do as we please about what they have spoken? Not unless we want to violate this injunction of the Word itself. And this is what Holy Writ enjoins upon us all: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Heb. 13, 7. ... Is it isolationism to hold aloof from those whom God Himself has admonished not to fraternize? Is it narrow legalism to be bound to the clear-cut statements of our Lutheran Confessions? A Niemoeller may tell us that “God is not bound by any such confessions.” But God is bound by His Word. And until it be shown that the Confessions to which we stand pledged are not a proper exposition of that Word, let us not be over-troubled by those who accuse us of sixteenth century confessionalism. Let us continue to ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein. (Norman A. Madson, “The Crying Need of our Beloved Conference” [sermon preached at the 75th Anniversary gathering of the Synodical Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 10, 1948], in Preaching to Preachers [Mankato, Minnesota: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1952], p. 203)

Why Is it So Important That Our People Be Acquainted with the Lutheran Confessions?
It is so important because the Confessions are a correct exposition, or interpretation, of the Bible and it is in our Confessions where we as a Lutheran Church publicly confess our faith before the world and confidently declare: “This we believe, teach, and confess.” They are also the banner under which we march and by which we identify one another as brethren. I believe that it is fair to say that if it were not for our Confessions the Lutheran Reformation would not have gotten off the ground and, consequently, there would be no Lutheran Church today. It is also fair to say that if we depart from our Confessions, as many have, the time may come when there will be no true Lutheran Church.
Permit me to call attention to what one of our Lutheran giants, Dr. C. F. W. Walther, said about our Confessions. In 1858 he delivered an essay to a district convention of the Missouri Synod entitled: “Why Should Our Pastors, Teachers, and Professors Subscribe Unconditionally to the Symbolical Confessional Writings of Our Church?” He submitted a twofold reason: a) that the Church may convince itself that its teachers really possess the orthodox understanding of the Scripture and the same pure, unadulterated faith as the church; b) that the Church may bind them with a solemn promise to teach this faith pure and unadulterated or renounce the office of teaching instead of disturbing the Church with their false doctrine. He then goes on to say that this twofold purpose is nullified if the servants of the Church are permitted to accept the Symbols of the Church on a conditional basis. “A subscription to the Confessions is the Church’s assurance that its teachers have recognized the interpretation and understanding of Scripture which is embodied in the Symbols as correct and will therefore interpret Scripture as the Church interprets it.” Reminding ministers who have been called to serve congregations he says that they must obligate themselves to teach according to God’s Word and the Church’s Confession. They owe this to the congregation as a guarantee that they will not dispense their own wisdom, but will preach publicly and privately the pure Christian doctrine.
Again in a sermon to a synodical convention in 1877 Walther stressed the importance of the Confessions, pointing out that “the true Lutheran Church set forth its symbolical writings to differentiate and distinguish themselves from those who deceitfully confess the Word of God. They did this not in order io set up a second norm and standard of faith and life in addition to the Word of God, but on the contrary, to remain faithful to the one norm and standard of the Word of God.” To those who regard the Symbols as human regulations which inhibit freedom of expression, he says that “the Confessional writings of the church are not tools of intolerance or opposition of the conscience in the church, but on the contrary, they are the most precious guarantee of her freedom. We thereby safeguard our freedom from human bondage in matters of faith and conscience.”
Our attitude today should be that of the original signers of the Augsburg Confession on June 25, 1530, who said, “This is just about a summary of the doctrines that are preached and taught in our churches for proper Christian instruction, the consolation of consciences, and the amendment of believers. Certainly we should not wish to put our own souls and consciences in grave peril before God by misusing His name or Word, nor should we wish to bequeath to our children and posterity any other teaching than that which agrees with the pure Word of God and the Christian truth” (Tappert p. 47).
So you see why it is so important that we are acquainted with, and firmly hold to, our Confessions. (Wilhelm W. Petersen, “Pastor, I Have a Question,” Lutheran Sentinel, Vol. 68, No. 2 [Feb. 1985], p. 4)

In the four hundred years since Luther’s death, those who have been designated “Lutherans” have had repeated occasion for testifying concerning their doctrine. In the sixteenth century imperial efforts were made to Romanize it, and when Calvinism was making large gains there were those who attempted to “Calvinize” Lutheran doctrine. In the seventeenth century the Pietistic movement was an effort to moralize it. The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century was determined to rationalize it. And the nineteenth century was marked by vigorous plans to unionize it. Whenever there has been a determination to uphold the scriptural doctrines reaffirmed by Luther, there has also been recourse to the confessional statements of the Reformation age. The outstanding, though not the only, materials in this field are those found in the Book of Concord. Virtually all its contents have been under attack from one side or another, or have fallen into disuse at some time or other. But a revived and consistent Lutheranism has found them indispensable, and has restored them to use. (Willard Dow Allbeck, Studies in the Lutheran Confession [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1952], p. ix)

We esteem the fathers highly, far higher than ourselves as far more learned and more devout than we are. Therefore, we want to use them, particularly Luther, as guides to Scripture, and to test their doctrines a hundred times before we reject them. But authorities equal to Scripture or opposed to Scripture they may never become for us, or we shall be practicing idolatry. (August Pieper, “Foreword to Volume 10” [of the Quartalschrift] [translated by Philemon Hensel], in The Wauwatosa Theology [edited by Curtis Jahn] [Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1997], Vol. I, p 117)

The Lutheran Church has never despised or even disregarded the traditions that have come down from the ancient fathers of the Church. What has been preserved by the teachings and doings of Christian men from the apostles’ time down to the present day is precious. The light which it gives in regard to the faith and the labors of love which the Holy Spirit wrought in other days, the lives which were rendered luminous by rays from heaven – as others were rendered dark by obscuring blackness from hell, in its rage against the Anointed of the Lord – the Church is not willing to forget. She desires to learn the lessons of history and rejoices in her fellowship with men of God who lived and suffered in the same glorious cause in which she is still engaged with the same assurance of faith which made believers strong in other days. But she knows that some professed to be Christians who were not such, and that Christians could err in the past as in the present, and therefore she applies to the Christians of other times the same unerring rule that she applies now, and holds fast as God’s truth only what is declared in God’s Word. (Matthias Loy, The Augsburg Confession [Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1908], p. 179)

Lutheran Protestantism is preeminently historical. It approves of the connection with the traditions of the Church, i.e., of the visible transmission of doctrines and usages, so far as they are not in conflict with the letter or spirit of God’s Word. Pseudo-Protestantism starts practically with the assumption that everything in the visible Church, both of doctrine and of practice, is to be regarded as wrong, till it shall be proved by direct testimony of Scripture to be right. True Protestantism, i.e., Lutheran Protestantism, starts on the assumption that everything in the visible Church, both of doctrine and of practice, is to be regarded as right, until it shall be proved by testimony of Scripture, or by sanctified reason, to be wrong. (Revere Franklin Weidner, An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology)

The Lutheran Reformation was no revolutionary movement. It looked with disfavor upon all novelties. It did not break with tradition, except where tradition broke with Scripture. (Henry Eyster Jacobs)

For we can affirm with a good conscience that we have, after reading the Holy Scripture, applied ourselves and yet daily apply ourselves to the extent that the grace of the Lord permits to inquiry into and investigation of the consensus of the true and purer antiquity. For we assign to the writings of the fathers their proper and, indeed, honorable place which is due them, because they have clearly expounded many passages of Scripture, have defended the ancient dogmas of the church against new corruptions of heretics, and have done so on the basis of Scripture, have correctly explained many points of doctrine, have recorded many things concerning the history of the primitive church, and have usefully called attention to many other things. And we long for this, that in the life to come we may see what we believe and hope concerning the grace of God on account of His Son, the Redeemer, as members of the true catholic church; that we may see (I say) the Son of God Himself, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and fathers, who held to the true foundation, and may enjoy intimate friendship with them to all eternity. Therefore we examine with considerable diligence the consensus of the true, learned, and purer antiquity, and we love and praise the testimonies of the fathers which agree with the Scripture. (Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971], p. 256)

We must confess that the doctrine which was declared and submitted at Augsburg is the true and pure Word of God, and that all who believe and keep it are children of God and will be saved, whether they already believe it or will be illuminated later. For this Confession will endure to the end of the world on Judgment Day. It is indeed written that whosoever believeth on Him and shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:11,13). And we must take note not only of those who will be added in the future, but also of the Christian church, which preaches the Word, and of our own people, according to the word: “As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), which passage excludes none; therefore all who believe and live according to the teaching of the [Augsburg] Confession and its Apology are our brethren, and their peril concerns us as much as does our own. As members of the true church we dare not forsake them, regardless of when they join us, whether they do so secretly or openly, whether they live among us or in the diaspora. This we say and confess. (Martin Luther, “Opinion on the Recess of the Imperial Diet”; quoted in C. F. W. Walther, The True Visible Church (translated by John Theodore Mueller) (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961), p. 44)

...we must establish what I hope no one is so foolish as to disagree with, namely that the continuous opinion of Luther is that which is repeated and explained in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession... For our churches will not endure it if anyone tries to depict the doctrine of Luther and the Augsburg Confession as being in conflict with one another. (Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici [translated by J. A. O. Preus] [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989], Vol. II, p. 600)

I am a Christian, profoundly committed to the Confession of Augsburg in which my parents reared me. And I am also committed to it as a result of my constantly renewed and considered reflections, and of a daily struggle against every sort of temptation. (Paul Gerhardt)

...the Elector [John Frederick the Magnanimous]...assured the English ambassador [sent by King Henry VIII] that “he received the living Word of God according to the Augsburg Confession, and thus publicly professed it, without which there is no true knowledge of God or hope of salvation; and from this Confession he would not recede even though he were compelled to lose life, and all that he had.” (Henry Eyster Jacobs, The Lutheran Movement in England during the Reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., and Its Literary Monuments [revised] [Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1908], p. 152; quoting Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf, Commentarius Historicus et apologeticus de Lutheranismo sive de Reformatione [3 Vols.] [Leipzig, 1692], Vol. III, pp. 225 sq.)

I was not baptized in the name of Luther: he is not my God and Saviour; I do not rest my faith in him, and am not saved by him; and, therefore, in this sense, I am no Lutheran. But if I be asked whether, with my heart and lips, I profess the doctrines which God restored to light by the instrumentality of His blessed servant Dr. Luther, I neither hesitate, nor am ashamed, to call myself a Lutheran. In this sense I am, and, as long as I live, will remain a Lutheran. (George [the Pious], Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, quoted in Kärcher, Vertheidigung, p. 60; quoted in turn in Joseph A. Seiss, Ecclesia Lutherana: A Brief Survey of the Evangelical Lutheran Church [Fourth Edition] [Philadelphia: Lutheran Book Store, 1871], pp. 16-17)

...“Lutherans have far more in common with Romanists than with Calvinists.” ... This famous dictum of [Polykarp] Leyser was the common opinion of orthodox Lutherans during the lengthy conflict with the Reformed in the early seventeenth century. (Gaylin R. Schmeling, “Polykarp Leyser (1552-1610): A Theological Bridge Between Chemnitz and Gerhard,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly, Vol. 50, Nos. 2-3 [June-September 2010], p. 197)

A very strong tendency toward sectarianism and even secularization is found in the increasing number of special days that are celebrated, at least with a special “program” in the Sunday-school, if not with a similar perversion of the regular service in the church itself. We have with us to-day Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Rally Day, Father-and-son Day, Decision Day, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Roosevelt’s Birthday, Armistice Day, and a host of others, and apparently the end is not yet. “All these,” Rev. F. R. Webber says (Lutheran Church Art, November, 1928), “are anthropocentric. We have a church-year that is highly Christocentric. Any so-called Lutheran who sets aside the old church-year and out of desire to ape the sects indulges in the sloppy sentimentalism of the sectarian, Christless world-year is a traitor to the Word of God. What warrant have we to observe festivals, ferias, and fasts in honor of people?” The stricture, though severe, is well taken and well worthy of serious deliberation. (Paul E. Kretzmann, Magazin für evang.-luth. Homiletik und Pastoraitheologie [June 1929], pp. 218)

It is a bad sign when those who mean the same thing use different words. Let us be satisfied with the form of creed which we have hitherto used. (St. Jerome, Letter 15 [to Pope Damasus])

Our prayers should be shaped by the richness of God’s Word, not the poverty of our own hearts. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

...the doctrine of law and gospel, as the twofold form of the word of God, stands at the heart of Luther’s entire system and provides the structural framework for his doctrine of justification. ... The duality of law and grace has a good biblical foundation, especially in Paul. The law-gospel dialectic, proposed in an unacceptable form by Marcion, is detectable in certain passages of Origen and Augustine. Medieval scholastics such as Robert of Melun and Thomas Aquinas, in their treatises on the relationship of the old law to the new, foreshadowed some of Luther’s insights. Thus the law-gospel contrast...has a Catholic past. Nevertheless it was not thematically taken up by Trent, nor has it been in modern Catholic systematics. Walter Kasper regards it as regrettable that law and gospel never became a major theme in Catholic theology. (Avery Dulles, “Justification in Contemporary Catholic Theology,” Justification by Faith: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985], pp. 275-76)

...to the Catholic, the church is central to the act of faith itself: only by communal belief do I partake of the certainty on which I can base my life. This corresponds to the Catholic view that church and Scripture are inseparable while, in Luther, Scripture becomes an independent measure of church and tradition. ... The unity of Scripture which had hitherto been interpreted as a unity of steps toward salvation, as a unity of analogy, is now replaced with the dialectic of Law and Gospel. ... I would say that the dialectic of Law and Gospel expresses most poignantly Luther’s new experience and that it illustrates most concisely the contradiction with the Catholic concepts of faith, salvation, Scripture, and church. (“Luther and the Unity of the Churches: An Interview with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,” Communio, Vol. 11, No. 3 [1984], pp. 219-20)

In light of the renewal of Catholic theology evident in the Second Vatican Council, Catholics today can appreciate Martin Luther’s reforming concerns and regard them with more openness than seemed possible earlier.
Implicit rapprochement with Luther’s concerns has led to a new evaluation of his catholicity, which took place in the context of recognizing that his intention was to reform, not to divide, the church. This is evident in the statements of Johannes Cardinal Willebrands and Pope John Paul II. The rediscovery of these two central characteristics of his person and theology led to a new ecumenical understanding of Luther as a “witness to the gospel.”
Pope Benedict also recognized the ways in which the person and theology of Martin Luther pose a spiritual and theological challenge to Catholic theology today when, in 2011, he visited the Augustinian Friary in Erfurt where Luther had lived as a friar for about six years. Pope Benedict commented, “What constantly exercised [Luther] was the question of God, the deep passion and driving force of his whole life’s journey. ‘How do I find a gracious God?’ – this question struck him in the heart and lay at the foundation of all his theological searching and inner struggle. For him, theology was no mere academic pursuit, but the struggle for oneself, which in turn was a struggle for and with God. ‘How do I find a gracious God?’ The fact that this question was the driving force of his whole life never ceases to make an impression on me. For who is actually concerned about this today – even among Christians? What does the question of God mean in our lives? In our preaching? Most people today, even Christians, set out from the presupposition that God is not fundamentally interested in our sins and virtues.” (From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, pars. 28-30)

The God of Isaiah and Ezekiel is the God of Jesus: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name – a God who always remains distant in some way, whose name, whose essence is sacred, holy, set apart from any reality we can comprehend. The God of the Bible is the God of the liturgy. He is different, other. Fortunately, God is this and more. ... Like most people, I’m desperate for intimacy with God, so my instinct is to glom onto prayers and songs that make God seem close. But when I begin here, I am tempted to identify God with the warm feelings such prayers and songs generate. I sing a “worshipful” song, and I get “worshipful” feelings – and I assume that’s God. Do this habitually, thoughtlessly, prayerlessly, and it’s easy to end up with a relationship with a glorified self. But the liturgy puts a brake on narcissism right up front. When we are forcefully reminded that we are not worshiping an idealized form of the self, but a God “in heaven,” a “holy” God, a genuine Other. At that very moment, intimacy with God becomes possible. The possibility of mistaking God for the self has been taken off the table. Now a human self and the Divine Self – utterly unlike each other – begin to relate to each other. Union can come of these two. (Mark Galli, Beyond Smells & Bells [Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2008], pp. 42-43)

Luther’s main intention was to go back to the New Testament, to revive the sense of the God of the Bible, the living God, the Creator and the Sovereign. He recovers the primitive concept of salvation as a drama, a battle between God and the evil powers of sin and death which have usurped God’s sovereignty over the world... Lutheran theology was indeed a re-establishment of the basic Biblical and Patristic elements in this drama. His concern for the catholic tradition of the church was obvious, and the Augsburg Confession itself claims to be nothing else than a reestablishment of the ancient apostolic faith liberated from all human philosophical systems. (John Meyendorff, Catholicity and the Church [Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press], pp. 68-69)

It was the Germans who caused Europe to lose the fruits, the whole meaning of the last great age — the age of the Renaissance. At a moment when a higher order of values, noble and life affirming values which guarantee the future, had succeeded in triumphing over the opposite values, the values of degeneration in the very seat of Christianity itself — and even in the hearts of those sitting there — Luther that cursed monk not only restored the Church but what was a thousand times worse; restored Christianity and at a time too when it lay defeated. Christianity, the Denial of the Will to Life — elevated to a religion! Luther was a failed monk who thanks to his own "inadequacies” attacked the Church and in so doing restored it! Catholics would be perfectly justified in celebrating feasts in honour of Luther and in producing festival plays in his honour. (Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is)

I'm working through Romans 3...and so I thought I would examine the Würzburg glosses to see how an early Irish theologian interpreted the same text in the 8th century. I've reproduced both the biblical text and the glosses here together. The glosses are italicized and were originally written in Gaelic and Latin.
"(23) For all have sinned and do need the glory of God. (24) Being justified freely by his grace [that is, by faith alone, i.e. the faith of belief in Jesus Christ], through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [that is, it is He that has redeemed and it is He also that is the ransom, i.e. by the blood] (25) Whom God had proposed to be a propitiation [that is, it has been set forth in the mysteries of the Godhead, to make atonement for those who believe his liberation would be in the blood], through faith in his blood, [that is, through the faith of every one who believes in his salvation through His blood] to the showing of his justice, for the remission of former sins."
What is interesting is the phrase 'by faith alone'. Our Irish scribe added this gloss in Latin (per fidem solam) over verse 24 'justified freely by his grace' (Iustificati gratis per gratiam ipsius) and then expanded it with a Gaelic gloss relating this justification by faith alone to faith in Christ. Luther was famously criticized for adding 'alone' (allein) to his German translation of Romans 3.28, 'man is justified by faith [alone]', although it doesn't appear in the Greek (or Latin text). Of course Luther's 1522 translation wasn't the first vernacular translation to add 'alone' to Romans 3.28. Several earlier Roman Catholic editions did the same thing (e.g. the Nuremberg Bible of 1488, the Geneva Italian version of 1476). In a similar fashion our 8th century Irish theologian interpreted Romans 3.24 as teaching justification per fidem solam. Luther, it seems, wasn't alone.

Many Romanists have alleged that Martin Luther took liberty with Scripture, adding the word “alone” when he translated Romans 3:28 into German, to read “...a man is justified by faith alone.” However, recent study done on the Irish Würzburg Glosses revealed that this is not a novel innovation by Luther. Codex Paulinus Wirziburgensis is now kept in the university library of Würzburg, Germany. It was the work of Irish scribes circa A.D. 800 and consists of the Latin text of the Pauline epistles (plus Hebrews). What is remarkable about this manuscript is that there are thousands of old Irish glosses in the margins and between the lines. These glosses provide explanations and applications of the text from Patristic sources. Intriguingly, for the Latin text of Romans 3, the Irish scribe added the gloss, in Latin, “by faith alone” (per fidem solam) over verse 24, “justified freely by his grace” (Iustificati gratis per gratiam ipsius), and then expanded it with a Gaelic gloss relating this justification by faith alone to faith in Christ. This 8th century Irish theologian interpreted Romans 3:24 as teaching justification per fidem solam. Luther, apparently, was not alone in his interpretation of Paul’s writing. (Martin Yee, http://lutherantheologystudygroup.blogspot.com/2013/03/luther-is-not-alone-justification-by.html)

If there’s anything Lutheran that’s not Christian, I don’t want to be a Lutheran. (C. F. W. Walther)

The Lutheran Church is a Church of theologians, and has the most learning and the finest hymns. (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 7, p. 26)

The mysteries of God are to be adored, not investigated. (Philip Melanchthon, Loci Communes, 1521)

Be thou comforted, little dog. Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail. (Martin Luther)

I just received a letter from [Justus] Jonas. He wrote that a dog had defecated into the grave of the bishop of Halle. I believe it's fatal, for it has also happened to others before. Once when there was a procession with banners around a church, the verger put the holy water pot on the ground. A dog came along and urinated into the holy water pot. A priest noticed this because he was sprinkling the water, and he said, "You impious dog! Have you become a Lutheran too?" (Martin Luther, Table Talk #5418 [1542] [translated by Wade Johnston; translation slightly revised])

We don't say 'back to Luther'; we say 'forward to Luther!' Luther is so far ahead of us that we haven't even caught up to him yet. (Ulrich Asendorf)

...the Lutheran churches...formed a conscious, confessionally minded fellowship, knowing about its borders from the very beginning. It is wrong to assume that this consciousness grew only gradually, as time passed on, and the souls hardened in their attitude of defense. We can see this in the formulations by Luther’s closest friend, the Bishop of Naumburg, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, when he excommunicated a priest who had committed the blasphemous and heretical act of distributing an unconsecrated host at the celebration of the sacrament. This man was not to be tolerated “in our Christian church,” that is “in the fellowship of all Wittenbergian Christian churches.” The word “Wittenbergian” here apparently serves as the name of a denomination, pointing to churches that received each other’s communicants but also accepted the excommunication issued by one particular church or bishop. In principle this fellowship reached also outside the churches that had passed through the reformation of the Latin church at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In one case Luther is known to have issued a letter of recommendation for an Ethiopian deacon, Michael. The intention was apparently to make it possible for Michael to receive the sacrament; the similarity between the outward forms of the Lutheran and Ethiopian eucharistic liturgy being stressed. Michael was said to have accepted all our articles of faith, “omnibus nostris articulis.” This unexpected declaration of fellowship between the Wittenbergian churches and the Church of Ethiopia may have been based upon a misunderstanding, but it yet speaks about the openness of Luther’s mind and his consciousness of belonging to the church of the holy fathers. (Tom G. A. Hardt, “The Confessional Principle: Church Fellowship in the Ancient and in the Lutheran Church,” Logia, Vol. VIII, No. 2 [Eastertide 1999], pp. 26-27)

Three years ago there was an Ethiopian monk with us here, with whom we had discussions through an interpreter, and, having finished with all our articles, he said: “This is a good creed, that is, faith.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk #4126 [Nov. 17, 1538] [translated by Mark DeGarmeaux])

He [Michael the Ethiopian] spoke a few things with Luther through an interpreter who knows Italian, who is our student. He [the student] says that he [the Ethiopian] speaks very broken Italian ... He knows very little Latin. This much about the Trinity he said to Luther: that the opinion of the eastern church agrees with the western church. We are not able to converse sufficiently since he does not know any western language enough, neither Latin nor Italian nor Greek. I asked whether he knew how to write Greek; he said that he did not know the Greek letters, but I believe he knows some everyday Greek, just as he knows Italian. ... (Philip Melanchthon, Letter to Benedict Pauli [May 31, 1534] [translated by Mark DeGarmeaux])

There has been with us in Germany, the Reverend Michael the Ethiopian, a Deacon. Conversing privately with him concerning Christian doctrine, we have heard that he properly agrees with the Symbol which the Western Church holds, and that he does not think differently about the Trinity than what the Western Church thinks. Therefore we commend him to good people as much as we surely can. For, although the Eastern Church has several dissimilar ceremonies, he judges that their dissimilarity does not nullify the unity of the church and does not militate against the faith, since the kingdom of Christ is the spiritual righteousness of the heart, the fear of God, and confidence through Christ. We also think this opinion is right. We have also learned from him, that the rite which we observe in the use of administration of the Lord’s Supper and the Mass, agrees with the Eastern Church. We wish, moreover, that all peoples would acknowledge and glorify Christ, and would submit to Him with true confidence in His mercy and with love for one’s neighbor. For this reason we ask that good people would demonstrate Christian love also to this visitor. Dated at Wittenberg in the year 1534, the 7th of July. Martin Luther. (translated by Donald D. Schoewe; translation revised by Mark DeGarmeaux)

I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity. (C. S. Lewis)

Christianity..., if false, is of no importance; and, if true, [is] of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. (C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock)

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Thing)

Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave. (G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man)

I never understood why it should be considered more courageous to despair than to hope. It takes courage to hope; it doesn't take courage to despair. Freud said that religious faith is the illusion - the comforting illusion - that there is a father figure. But a religious believer could say to Freud that atheism is the comforting illusion that there is no father figure and you can get away with whatever you feel like doing. So I don't know why atheism is somehow considered more heroic than theism; I call that an adolescent dream. (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks)

The goal of the principal service of the church has always been the celebration of the Communion or Lord's Supper. The observance of the Lord's Supper was the core; the parts of the service before and after always stood in relation to it. This is the case in the Eastern churches, in the Roman Church, and also in the Evangelical Church. A principal service without the celebration of the Lord's Supper was not considered complete; it looked like a column in ruins, like a flower stem without its crown. (Wilhelm Loehe, "Vorwort," Sammlung liturgischer Formulare der evangelish-lutherischen Kirche, vol. 3 [1842])

In February 1536, Matthes Lotther, a painter of cards from Freiberg in Ducal Saxony, made unguarded statements about evangelical worship, and, among other things, claimed that laypersons could also administer the sacrament. Thereupon, Luther cautioned his fellow citizens about him. This had grave consequences for Lotther. He feared for his life and fled. Luther interceded for him with Duke Henry of Saxony, who was responsible for the government of Freiberg. Luther thought an appropriate punishment would be not exile from the land, but imprisonment for a time, combined with the requirement that he forever refrain from repeating his earlier statements. (Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: The Preservation of the Church, 1532-1546 [translated by James L. Schaaf] [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993], p. 37)

Lutheranism played an important, yet often overlooked role in the origins of the American Revolution, particularly the principle of just resistance. The standard explanation is that America's Founding Fathers looked primarily to Enlightenment philosophers like John Locke and his social contract theory of government to justify American resistance to British imperial policies. But some patriot leaders like John Adams looked further back to the Reformation and the 1550 Magdeburg Confession, a treatise written by pastors of Magdeburg, Germany, that outlined the essential ingredients in Lutheran theories of resistance: the right of the lesser nobility and electors to punish and even overthrow a tyrannical emperor. The Magdeburg Confession greatly influenced the English resistance theorist and bishop John Ponet, whose 1556 Short Treatise on Political Power attacked the divine right of kings and endorsed tyrannicide. Ponet’s treatise was a seminal volume that later political philosophers like John Locke expanded upon, and influenced John Adams, whose Thoughts on Government and “Novanglus” essays significantly advanced among Americans the necessity and justifiability of independence. Historian David Whitford argues that there is “an important Lutheran influence running from Magdeburg through Bishop John Ponet to John Adams and the greatest statement of democratic principles in history, the American Declaration of Independence” (Whitford 2001, 143). (Keith Krawczynski, “Religion: Lutheranism,” in The World of the American Revolution: A Daily Life Encyclopedia [edited by Merril D. Smith] [Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood, 2015], Vol. 2, pp. 683-84. The John Whitford quotation is from “John Adams, John Ponet, and the Lutheran Influence on the American Revolution,” The Lutheran Quarterly, Vol. 15 [new series], No. 2 [Summer 2001], p. 143.)

The young people are right in fighting for their God-given native liberty. (Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Letter to Christian Emanuel Schulze, March 7, 1776; quoted in Paul A. W. Wallace, The Muhlenbergs of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950], p. 123)

"My late friend, Steven J. Gould, who insisted with dogmatic fervor that he wasn’t a believer, in addition to being a distinguished paleontologist and a terrific communicator, was a member of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston. And so he sang all this ancient music. And in an interview several years ago that we were both involved in, he was asked about communication with other planets and other worlds, and how should we try to reach people who don’t know our language or anything else. And he said, 'We should play the Bach B Minor Mass and say, in as many languages as we can, "This is the best we have ever done, and we would like you to hear it, and we’d like to hear the best you have ever done."' And so he would want broadcast systems blaring across our solar system and beyond it with the B Minor Mass, including 'Credo in unum Deum.'" (Jaroslav J. Pelikan, from an interview conducted in 2003)

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