Martin Luther’s Reformation on Spirituality

martin-luther-stained-glass_SIFrom my experiences, when people speak of Luther’s reformation teachings in commemoration of his posting of the 95 theses on October 31st 1517, the focus is almost always on his rejection of the selling of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins.  Inevitably this leads to the “solas of the Reformation” – that one is justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone[i] – being presented as the pistons that drove all of Luther’s reforming agenda.  This depiction of Luther’s reforming work that I have observed again and again in numerous Lutheran congregations every Reformation Sunday has led me to see Luther’s reformation work to be primarily focused on correcting false doctrine.  What I have just recently discovered however from reading Scott Hendrix’s article “Martin Luther’s Reformation of Spirituality” is that central to Luther’s reformation was not a mere correcting of false doctrine, but that the Reformation had an additional emphasis, if not primary emphasis, on reforming Christian spirituality.

Late medieval spirituality consisted of the selling of indulgences for the remission of sins.  In particular, a full indulgence gave the pardon of all of one’s temporal punishment for sins committed up until the issuance of the indulgence.  Partial indulgences could lessen, or shorten, the temporal punishments one would receive for his sins.  These indulgences were granted by the authority of the pope with the full indulgence coming solely through his auspices.  To acquire these indulgences a Christian would have to attend countless masses, take pilgrimages to relics and shrines of saints, give endless cycles of penance, dive full-length into all that monasticism had to offer, and of course fill the Church’s coffer with pecunias multas (lots of money).  Luther’s 95 Theses and the resultant doctrinal formations that followed his initial disputation for clarifying the power of indulgences[ii] led to a necessary forsaking of these false spiritual practices for an embrace of a true, authentic Christian life of spirituality.

At the heart of Luther’s reformation of spirituality was his spotlighting that the religiosity of the Church in the late medieval age was wholly of human creation and ordinance – thus not established by God in his revealed Word.  Such religious activities were, as such, adiaphora – neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture – thus Luther would come to demonstrate that such self-elected works had no value whatsoever to contribute to one’s righteousness, one’s right-standing before and with Christ.  All the spiritual mumbo jumbo of man’s creation, no matter how Christianized it might be made to seem, will actually kill you physically and spiritually, and Luther knew and experienced this suicidal murdering of his body and soul first hand through his fervent devotion to the monastic lifestyle for twenty years.  Much in the same way that Paul claimed to be a Pharisee of Pharisees, Luther was a monk of monks!  Following the rules and edicts of men to attain eternal life, Luther discovered that they only lead to the ruin of his body and the unending torment of his conscious that knew he was still a sinner rightly deserving God’s righteous judgment.

The epiphany of the salvation in Christ that comes apart from the works of the believer that Luther found in Scripture and stood upon for his salvation didn’t eradicate all spirituality, all Christian living, it simply eradicated the false-spiritualties of the Church of his day, because Christ did give edicts of religious and spiritual activities to those who would follow him, and Luther was not rejecting these, namely, Christ’s commands to baptize, to proclaim the Gospel, to administer the sacrament[iii], to absolve the sins of the repentant and to retain sins and excommunicate the unrepentant, to suffer with Christ and for Christ, and to love and serve all people as Christ would have us to do.  Essentially, following Christ and not the pope was the new landscape of Christian living that Luther sought through his reformation work.  Christian living and spirituality is thus very much a Lutheran thing.

[i] Sometimes lists contain four or five solas instead of just the three I have provided with the additional two solas being Scripture alone and the glory of God alone.

[ii] Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences is the title given in the 1518 Basel reprint.

[iii] By sacrament, I am referring to communion.

45. Government Redistribution of Wealth

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Don't Steal
Is government redistribution of wealth stealing?

Show Links:

“A Fork to Feed, a Scalpel to Heal, or a Sword to Protect?” by Wes Bareford

Martin Luther’s Large Catechism – “The Seventh Commandment”

“A Voter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments” by Bryan Wolfmueller

Virtue in the Wasteland – a podcast co-hosted by Wes’ professor for Theology 565, Jeff Mallinson.

“How Do I Know I am a Christian?” – Reconnect Episode 19 with Wes and George

Reconnect 15. Christian Freedom, Eucatastrophes, and Rock ‘N’ Roll

>>>Episode 15 – Click here to listen! Right click to download.<<<

Listen in iTunes!

First Reconnect July Fourth Special!  Andy discusses the concept of “Christian Freedom” with Pastor Samwise Praetorius (Samuel Schuldheisz) by addressing the eucatastrophes of fairy stories and the Gospel connections that can be made with rock songs.  They both share their top three favorite rock songs to use for sharing the Gospel. If you don’t know how that’s possible, you need to give this episode a listen. 

Reconnect Episode 15Listen to Episode 15 Here.

Videos of Andy and Pastor Sam’s favorite Rock ‘N’ Roll Evangelism Songs:

Please listen to episode before watching these videos of our favorite rock songs to use when sharing the Gospel.  I’m keeping the song titles and bands a secret on this page to not spoil the fun when listening to the episode.  We’d love to hear your feedback on our approach and song selections.  If the linked videos are ever removed, please send me an email at andy@contradictmovement.org to notify me.

Andy’s third favorite rock song for evangelism
Andy’s second favorite rock song for evangelism (the studio version is better but here you can see the drummer in action)
Andy’s top favorite rock song for evangelism

Sam’s third favorite rock song for evangelism
Sam’s second favorite rock song for evangelism
Sam’s top favorite rock song for evangelism

Other Episode links:

Pastor Sam’s blog: E-nkings
Pastor Sam’s congregation’s website: Redeemer Lutheran
“Faith and Fairy Tales” by Pastor Sam
1517 The Legacy Project

Religious Syncretism – German woman takes a stand against Chrislam!

A Muslim imam is scheduled to pray to Allah at a local Christian building of worship near you in an effort of peace between Muslims and Christians… what do you do? Do you attend? Do you allow Allah of the Qur’an to be invoked in the Christian sanctuary? One German lady said that if that happens, the building is no longer a church building; it is a mosque! She interrupted the prayer and shouted that “Jesus is Lord.” She proclaimed, “Here I stand I can do no other.”

 

Christians should not partake in religious syncretism, the blending of differing religious belief systems so as they are one.

Christians can certainly pray anywhere and at any time. I have visited a Muslim mosque before during Friday noon prayer, and as a guest I was well treated and given a tour of the mosque and given an explanation of what was to transpire when I showed up early. I was given a spot in the back to sit and I was not expected to pray, though I did pray to the Christian God (the Triune Lord) during the service. I just did not give any indication that I was praying, and I certainly didn’t pray in the same physical posturing associated with Islamic prayers, because I did not want to give any indication that I was praying to the same God as the Muslims.

When a building that is designated as a place of Christian worship, has prayers offered by a Muslim leader to Allah with the expectation that prayers offered by a Christian leader to the God of the Bible will follow, it is a clear form of syncretism. Chrislam is the term I have heard used for this type of blending.

I don’t understand why the prophet Muhammad would encourage Christians to pray in mosques in Medina, because Christians pray to a God that is not one person. We pray to a God that is three in person. In fact, I have had many Muslims tell me that I worship three gods, not one God (which I was told at UCI after speaking at the interfaith discussion you hosted).

Christians who are devote to the Bible’s revelation of God, must stand for Christ being Lord. He is not just a prophet. He is the second person of the Trinity revealed to us in human flesh. In Jesus, people have seen, heard, touched, and known God. He has revealed to us who God, the Father is, and he has sent to us the Holy Spirit (the third person in the Trinity). For Christians to pray openly along with Muslims, it gives the impression to both parties that we are praying to the same God, which is far from the truth.

In fact Israel, under the old covenant were always disciplined by God when they fell into religious syncretism.

John 14:6 is very clear. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

For more examples of Chrislam, check out the following video, featuring George Bush, Brian Houston (Hillsong Pastor), and the Pope:

For more details on why all religions can’t be true, order a copy of my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.