Luther’s Last Sermon

eisleben_pulpitFebruary 15, 1546: Martin Luther preaches what will be his last sermon. The text was Matthew 11: 25-30: “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’”

Following are the last few paragraphs of the sermon. Was Martin thinking as much himself as his audience in light of his health? We may never know. We also don’t know if Katie Luther ever saw the sermon and what comfort it my have given her after her husband’s death just three days later.

“When, therefore, the great lords, the emperor, pope, cardinals, and bishops are hostile and wrathful toward us because of all this, excommunicate us, and would gladly burn and murder us all, we must suffer it and say: We did not start this on account of the pope, the bishops, and the princes, nor shall we stop it on account of them. Christ says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden” Matt. 11:28, and it is as though he were saying: Just stick to me, hold on to my Word and let everything else go. If you are burned and beheaded for it, then have patience, I will make it so sweet for you that you easily would be able to bear it. It has also been written of St. Agnes that when she was led to prison to be killed, it was to her as if she were going to a dance. Where did she get this? Ah, only from this Christ, from believing this saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” That is to say: “If things go badly, I will give you the courage even to laugh about it; and if even though you walk on fiery coals, the torment shall nevertheless not be so severe and the devil shall nevertheless not be so bad, and you will rather feel that you are walking on roses. I will give you the heart to laugh even though Turk, pope, emperor, and everybody else be filled with horrible wrath and rage. Only come to me; and if you are facing oppression, death, or torture, because the pope, the Turk, and emperor are attacking you, do not be afraid; it will not be heavy for you, but light and easy to bear, for I give you the Spirit, so that the burden, which for the world would be unbearable, becomes for you a light burden. For when you suffer for my sake, it is my yoke and my burden, which I lay upon you in grace, that you may know that this your suffering is well pleasing to God and to me and that I myself am helping you to carry it and giving you power and strength to do so.” So also say Ps. 31: 24, and Ps. 27: 14: Let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord, all you who suffer for his sake. Let misfortune, sin, death, and whatever the devil and the world loads upon you assail and assault you, if only you remain confident and undismayed, waiting upon the Lord in faith, you have already won, you have already escaped death and far surpassed the devil and the world.

“Lo, this means that the wise of this world are rejected, that we may learn not to think ourselves wise and to put away from our eyes all great personages, indeed, to shut our eyes altogether, and cling only to Christ’s Word and come to him, as he so lovingly invites us to do, and say: “Thou alone art my beloved Lord and Master, I am thy disciple.”

“This and much more might be said concerning this Gospel, but I am too weak and we shall let it go at that.”

The entire test in English can be found in the American Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. 51: pp 383-391

The picture of the pulpit in St. Andreas Church is from when it was on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the exhibit “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation”.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux for Katie Luther

If You’re in Oxford or Oxfordshire…

alister-mcgrathA talk with discussion on the complex relationship of science and faith given by Prof Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion (Oxford).

This talk is a part of the termly series ‘Merton Conversations in Faith and Culture’, which seeks to foster dialogue about life’s biggest issues and questions by providing an opportunity for people to engage with leading experts in a relaxed environment.

Come for a glass of wine at 8.15 pm, with the talk beginning at 8.30 pm in the Lecture Theatre at Merton College. All welcome.

McGrath is really excellent.  Always worth hearing.

Fun Facts from Church History: The Reburial of Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Wife

Did you know that Reginald Pole, erstwhile friend of Peter Martyr Vermigli, actually had Vermigli’s wife exhumed so her body could be tossed on a pile of dung (as a show of contempt) for the good woman’s Reformation views?  Well it was on this day that her body was recovered and burned and the ashes mingled with the ashes of the Patron Saint of Oxford University (so they wouldn’t be disturbed or bothered again).

@jdmccafferty (whom you should definitely follow) tweets the reminder of the reburial on today’s date:

15 Feb 1553: exhumation Catherine Dammartin (ex-#nuntastic) wife of Peter Vermigli, tried for heresy. Reburied w/ S.Frideswide 1558 #Oxford

Call For Papers: Northern Reformations

om937What did the protestant reformations look like in the north of Europe in comparison with other parts of Europe? How did the cultural, political and economic consequences of the religious change affect the relationship between Scandinavia, the British Isles and continental Europe? Various questions related to these main themes will be discussed at the conference “Northern Reformations” in Tromsø, September 21–22, 2017.

Although still highly interesting for further scrutiny, the way in which England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland came out in the seventeenth century as fairly different results of the turbulent fifteen hundreds has been subject to much research. Looking at international reformation research today, however, we know far less about the reformation paths undertaken by the areas that today constitute the five Nordic countries and how they differ from those in the rest of Europe. These differences are not merely due to chronology; the Nordic reformations are not only later stages of the German reformations. The different northern reformations took their own, independent courses.

Within these northern European areas and today’s nation states, some highly interesting regional differences can also be traced. In the sixteenth century, the state borders of Northern Fennoscandia were not yet drawn, and Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Kvens, Karelians, Russians – and the indigenous Sámi people inhabited these vast areas. The Russians were Orthodox Christians – and so were many of the Karelians and Eastern Sámi groups. Many of the Sámi further west were well acquainted with western forms of Christianity, while still practicing traditions from their indigenous religion. These factors provided further challenges for the ruling kings and protestant theologians who set out to reform their subjects in the north.

This borderless area, with a distinct ethnic dimension, has been the main area of interest for the research project “The Protracted Reformation in Northern Norway” (PRiNN) – since 2014 one of the main concerns of the multi-disciplinary research group Creating the New North (CNN). The third and last book publication from this project will be launched at the conference. In addition, there will be sessions exploring other northern dimensions of the European reformations, as well as an account of the status of current Nordic reformation research.

Go here for the details.

Melanchthon: On God

You’ll hardly find a better description of God anywhere:

“God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, eternal, true, good, pure, just, merciful, most free, of vast power and wisdom, the eternal Father who begat the Son, his own image, from eternity, and the Son, the coeternal image of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son.”  — Philipp Melanchthon

Tomorrow is Philipp’s birthday so expect lots of Melanchthonia.

Several of Martin Hengel’s Works are on Sale from JCB Mohr

Jesus und das Judentum

[A History of Early Christianity. Volume I: Jesus and Judaism.]
2007. XXIV, 749 pages.
109.00 €
Now 49.00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-149359-1

» Published in German. The first volume of this history of early Christianity, which will be published in four volumes, describes the path Jesus took and the work he did against the backdrop of contemporary Judaism in Palestine. Learn more….

Judaica et Hellenistica
Kleine Schriften I

Unter Mitarbeit von Roland Deines, Jörg Frey, Christoph Markschies u.a.
[Paulus zwischen Damaskus und Antiochien]
1996. IX, 484 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 90
79.00 €
Now 49.00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-147418-7

»Martin Hengel’s contribution to Judaeo-Greek studies has been, and continues to be, considerable. … I defy anyone not to come away from this collection full of new information about and new insights into the Jewish Hellenistic world. The footnotes are a wonderful resource themselves.« James Carleton Paget in Bulletin of Judaeo-Greek Studies 1997, p. 18 Learn more….

Judaica, Hellenistica et Christiana
Kleine Schriften II

Unter Mitarbeit von Jörg Frey und Dorothea Betz, und mit Beiträgen von Hanswulf Bloedhorn und Max Küchler
[Judaica, Hellenistica et Christiana. Selected Writings Volume II. By Martin Hengel. Student Edition.]
1999. Unrevised student edition 2002. X, 466 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 109
79.00 €
Now 49.00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-147751-5

»The volume also includes studies on Jewish/pre-Christian interpretation of scripture, Jerusalem as a Hellenistic city, the Sermon on the Mount’s Jewish backdrop, and the Gospel of John. Learn more….

Paulus und Jakobus
Kleine Schriften III

[Paul and James. Selected Writings Volume III. Student Edition.]
2002. Unrevised student edition 2005. XII, 587 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 141
84.00 €
Now 49.00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-148549-7

»Published in German. The third volume of Martin Hengel’s ‘Selected Writings’ contains eleven essays from the past 25 years. The three particularly long essays ‘Paul and Apocalypticism,’ ‘Paul, Israel and the Church’ and ‘Paul and the Question of a Prechristian Gnosis,’ which constitute more than one third of the volume, have been published here for the first time. Appendices have been added to the first two essays, ‘Between Paul and Jesus: The Hellenists the Seven and Steven,’ and ‘The Pre-Christian Paul.’ All the other essays have been expanded or checked. Learn more….

Studien zum Urchristentum
Kleine Schriften VI

Herausgegeben von Claus-Jürgen Thornton
[Studies of Early Christianity. Selected Essays Volume VI. Student Edition.]
2008. Unrevised student edition 2011. XII, 652 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 234
89.00 €
Now 49.00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-150849-3

»Published in German. Volume VI of Martin Hengel’s ‘Selected Essays’ contains 17 texts written over a period of 36 years between 1971 and 2007. They focus on aspects of Lukan historiography as the basis for our knowledge of early Christianity. Learn more….