Church History: Martin Luther, Part 4

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23 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Thank you again Michael for this excellent post. Dark indeed.

  2. “What can we learn from a man so greatly used of God…yet so prone to the sins that beset us all?”

    Why should he be different than the rest of us would be a better question.

    As to Luther’s so called crudeness, one must remember that Luther lived 300 yrs before the Victorian era, when people were told to be nice and not fart in public.

  3. Xenia says:

    Obviously I am not a fan of Luther.

  4. Michael says:


    I knew that… 🙂

  5. Michael says:

    There is much to glean here…about how politics and religion can make a deadly stew…about how an over emphasis on eschatology can lead to ungodly actions and attitudes…how we all are both saint and sinner at the same time…about the grace of God…

  6. Babylon's Dread says:

    Sounds like Ted Haggard is a saint by comparison and Calvary Chapel Moses model authoritarianism is kindergarten stuff.

  7. Babylon's Dread says:

    I wonder if the genesis of German nationalist fascism has seeds in Luther’s reform. Thoughts?

  8. Michael says:


    It’s crucial to understand Luther (or any other historical figure) in the context of their times.
    While I don’t believe that German fascism is indebted to Luther it is without question that some of his writings were used for propaganda hundreds of years later.

  9. Jean says:

    Michael #8 is correct and the 2 kingdoms theology was at the heart of it. Karl Barth critiqued Luther and the Nazis on that topic probably as well as anyone.

  10. Michael says:


    Good call on Barth.

  11. Ps40 says:

    And in this coverage of the dark side of Luther’s sojourning we see the mystery, again, of the incarnational nature of God’s Kingdom. God was truly there working in and through Luther-divinely: Luther’s humanity was truly there working in and through Luther-humanly. Frankly–I see this pattern throughout church history in every denomination without exception, within the Scriptural narrative , in my own self, and exemplified perfectly (and uniquely) through
    Christ. Christ being the perfect testimony, and the rest of my examples are simply shadows of that same story which speaks of the miracle of the Incarnation continuing in and through God’s Kingdom.
    I appreciate your willingness to tell it like it is. When we attempt to cover the messiness up, we might end up distorting the magnitude of what God is doing in spite of us.

  12. Michael says:


    Good stuff!
    Mainly because I agree with you and you said it better than I can. 🙂

    It’s only when we recognize the mess that the magnitude of His grace is truly known…

  13. Jean says:

    Michael, Barth wrote at the limit of my compression, so I hope no one asks me to explain him 🙂

  14. Babylon's Dread says:

    Maybe we would see out contemporaries more generously if we consider the context of our times.

  15. Michael says:


    You and me both…I get asked about Barth occasionally and I send them a link to someone who understands him. 🙂

  16. Michael says:


    Perhaps…but I’d need something a bit more specific.

  17. Michael says:

    Just for a heads up….next article will be on Zwingli…then we will rock the blog with Anabaptists. 🙂

  18. Babylon's Dread says:

    Contextually the great error that glares at us is the devaluing of life in the name of a focus upon eternal destinies. Those who were perceived as leading others astray were expendable because they were causing others to go to hell with themselves.

    Seems to me the anabaptists ideas will ultimately shape history… possibly in a way that mitigates against faith but certainly in a way that honors individuals and conscience.

  19. Michael says:


    I haven’t started working on it yet, but I do know that piece will be much more sympathetic than what I’ve written in the past…

  20. Michael
    Really a great little series. Thank you! I must admit, I find it hard to “warm up” to Luther. Phillip Melanchthon, however, really incorporated the best of the Catholic past with Reformation ideals… a personal hero of mine.

  21. Steve Wright says:

    On Luther possibly influencing Nazis…..interesting to think of another Lutheran of those times….Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    I just read a short book(let) by Bonhoeffer and the only guy he bothers to quote is Luther (and does a few times).

  22. Matt says:

    I appreciate the post. Too many Evangelicals are quick to gloss over some of the very dark, indeed Satanic, elements of Luther’s work and writings. Even to the end of his life, Luther was exhorting the German nobles to expel the Jews from their territories.

  23. Learner says:

    Great series on Luther Michael. I for one have been greatly impacted by Luther and the doctrinal emphasis you highlighted in a previous post. He was flawed, which makes him all the more attractive to me. But isn’t it our heroes flaws that make them real and accessible. Too often we’re looking for a functional savior and we all know where that leads…

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