Posts Tagged With: Martin Luther

Against The Rioting Peasants —Martin Luther, 1525

In the former book I did not venture to judge the peasants, since they had offered to be set right and to be instructed, and Christ’s commands, in Matthew 7:1, says that we are not to judge. But before I look around they go on, and, forgetting their offer, they betake themselves to violence, and rob and rage and act like mad dogs. By this it is easy to see what they had in their false minds, and that the pretences which they made in their twelve articles, under the name of the Gospel, were nothing but lies. It is the devil’s work that they are at, and in particular it is the workof the archdevil who rules at Muhlhausen, and does nothing else than stir up robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of him in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, then, these peasants and wretched folk have let themselves be led astray, and do otherwise than they have promised, I too must write of them otherwise than I have written, and begin by setting their sin before them, as God commands Isaiah and Ezekiel, on the chance that some of them may learn to know themselves.

Then I must instruct the rulers how they are to conductthemselves in these circumstances.

The peasants have taken on themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man, by which they have abundantly merited death in body and soul. In the first place they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers, as Christcommands, when He says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” and in Romans 13:2, “Let everyone be subject unto the higher powers.” Because they are breaking this obedience, and are setting themselves against the higher powers, willfully and with violence, they have forfeited body and soul, as faithless, perjured, lyingdisobedient knaves and scoundrels are wont to do. St. Paul passed this judgment on them in Romans 13, when he said, that they who resist the power will bring a judgment upon themselves. This saying will smite the peasants sooner or later, for it is God’s will that faith be kept and duty done.

In the second place, they are starting a rebellion, and violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castleswhich are not theirs, by which they have a second time deserved death in body and soul, if only as highwaymen and murderers. Besides, any man against whom it can be proved that he is a maker of sedition is outside the law of God and Empire, so that the first who can slay him is doing right and well. For if a man is an open rebel every man is his judge and executioner, just as when a firestarts, the first to put it out is the best man. For rebellion is not simple murder, but is like a great fire, which attacks and lays waste a whole land. Thus rebellion brings with it a land full of murder and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and turns everything upside down, like the greatest disaster. Therefore let everyone who can, smiteslay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.

In the third place, they cloak this terrible and horrible sinwith the Gospel, call themselves “Christian brethren,” receive oaths and homage, and compel people to hold with them to these abominations. Thus they become the greatest of all blasphemers of God and slanderers of His holy Name, serving the devil, under the outward appearance of the Gospel, thus earning death in body and soul ten times over. I have never heard of more hideous sin. I suspect that the devil feels the Last Day coming and therefore undertakes such an unheard-of act, as though saying to himself, “This is the last, therefore it shall be the worst; I will stir up the dregs and knock out the bottom.” God will guard us against him! See what a mighty princethe devil is, how he has the world in his hands and can throw everything into confusion, when he can so quickly catch so many thousands of peasants, deceive them, blindthem, harden them, and throw them into revolt, and do with them whatever his raging fury undertakes.

It does not help the peasants, when they pretend that, according to Genesis 1 and 2, all things were created free and common, and that all of us alike have been baptized. For under the New Testament Moses does not count; for there stands our Master, Christ, and subjects us, with our bodies and our property, to the emperor and the law of this world, when He says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Paul, too, says, in Romans 13:1, to all baptized Christians, “Let every man be subject to the power,” and Peter says, “Be subject to every ordinance of man.” By this doctrine of Christ we are bound to live, as the Father commands from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son; hear him.” For baptism does not make men free in body and property, but in soul; and the Gospel does not make goods common, except in the case of those who do of their own free will what the apostles and disciplesdid in Acts 4:32. They did not demand, as do our insane peasants in their raging, that the goods of others, — of a Pilate and a Herod, — should be common, but only their own goods. Our peasants, however, would have other men’s goods common, and keep their own goods for themselves. Fine Christians these! I think there is not a devil left in hell; they have all gone into the peasants. Their raving has gone beyond all measure.

Since the peasants, then, have brought both God and man down upon them and are already so many times guilty of death in body and soul, since they submit to no court and wait for no verdict, but only rage on, I must instruct the worldly governors how they are to act in the matter with a clear conscience.

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Happy 500th Anniversary of the SWISS Reformation!

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Dear Friends, Brothers, and Sisters,

Did you know that 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Reformation, that which birthed, not the Lutheran, but the Reformed churches?! We haven’t heard much about it this year, have we? But here it is.

On January 1, 1519, when a priest named Ulrich Zwingli began his ministry at the Großmünster cathedral in Zürich, Switzerland he did something radical. He began preaching through the gospel according to Matthew at the beginning of chapter one, and continued until he finished the book! In preaching through Matthew, Zwingli revived the ancient practice of the lectio continua, the continuous reading and preaching through books of the Bible as opposed to the lectio selecta, the selective lectionary noting different passages for different Sundays and holy days. The result was epic. It led to the Reformation in Switzerland, the most thoroughly biblical and intentional Reformation of them all, exerting tremendous influence in Scotland, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, and all over the world, conforming the belief and practice of the Church to the word of Christ and removing those unwarranted doctrines and practices which had crept in slowly over the ages in the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther’s Reformation in Germany in many ways tried to retain as much tradition from Rome as possible without contradicting the gospel, including its view of the corporeal (physical) presence of Christ in holy communion, feast days, altars, allowing vestments, and lectionary readings. In comparison to the German Reformation, to which we Reformed are nonetheless very much indebted, the Swiss Reformation was much more thoroughgoing in its Sola Scriptura “Scripture Alone” approach to the worship and government of the church, casting aside those practices that did not have a Scriptural warrant. And this emphasis on practicing only that form of worship and government that has Scriptural warrant, still guides the worship and government of our Reformed churches today in the OPC and in sister churches.

It is in commemoration of this providence of God 500 years ago that I have published a book summarizing the German and Swiss reformation, comparing and contrasting the two. At a mere 48 pages, it is accessible and possibly a helpful introduction for a churchgoer or other interested person who would like to have a basic grasp of the persons and events of the Protestant Reformation. It is written in a warm and affectionate tone as the fruit of my readings and study of this topic. I hope that this little book may be beneficial to some.

The Reformation in Germany and Switzerland is available for order here.

The paperback costs $5.45. The e-book is $3.99.

Be blessed! Give thanks for God’s work in history. And be Reformed!

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Deputized with the Titus 2:1 Award

Titus 2:1 says, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

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Jeremy de Haan, the man behind Sixteen Seasons, has deputized this parson with the Titus 2:1 Award.  Thank you kindly, pilgrim.  In order to celebrate, and until we can get together for a good old shindig or hoedown, he has asked me to answer the following questions:

1. If you could have dinner with any historical Christian figure, who would it be and why?

The good Doctor, Martin Luther.  That guy just was just a character.  His personality punches your spiritual nose and/or makes you chuckle on every page of his writings.  I’d be assured it wouldn’t be stuffy, or boring.  The conversation would surely be amusing and colloquial, yet profoundly theological.

2. What one burning question would you ask?

What is one thing you would have done differently, and why?

3. Where and what would you eat?

At the Black Bear in Wittenberg, of course!  It was his favorite hangout.  We’d eat something hearty like pigs feet, ox tail, or Blutwurst (blood sausage) while downing several pints of brown ale.  (Pils was not yet invented in Luther’s day.)

4. What was the last Bible verse you read?

Psalm 121:4 – “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

Now it’s time for me to pass the award on to another blogger.  I reckon I’d like to keep the international exchange going, and show some support for our Reformed brothers in South Africa.  One blog offers a steady stream of doctrine and church history.  This guys drinks it up like an Indian pony at a trough in front of the saloon after a 100 mile trek at full gallop.  My award goes to Jake Griesel at Theologia est doctrina Deo vivendi per Christum.

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Pastoral Letter — Oct 27, 2013

From Pastor Riley, to the members and friends of Hope Congregational Church,

Greetings in the name of Him who is reforming His Church, bringing her to greater conformity to His will!

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer.  Temperatures are dropping.  Perhaps spending more time indoors than we normally do in the summer months will give us time to reflect on some important topics.  The one I would like to focus on at the moment is Reformation.  Reformation is a work of God found in the Scriptures, when He conforms and reforms His Church to His will as expressed in His holy word.  In the days of Hezekiah the King there was a mighty reformation, a time of revival and smashing the idols that people had been following instead of God.  We see the same thing occur under the reign of Josiah after the book of the law was rediscovered.  There are times of blessing when the word of God is rediscovered, ignorance is uprooted, and idols are smashed for the glory of God and the blessing of His Church.

On October 31, 1517 such a work of God began through the humble protest of a conscientious monk and Bible professor at Wittenberg University named Martin Luther.  Luther95thesesIn the middle ages Christianity had overtaken Europe, although North Africa and Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), once important centers of the Christian faith, had for the most part been overrun by Islam through successive conquests.  In the Middle Ages Bibles were scarce, and if available, it was only available in the Latin Vulgate translation.  As a result, many superstitions and errors had developed to cloud and obscure the gospel of Jesus Christ based on some key mistranslated passages in the Vulgate.  A general ignorance prevailed over Christian people, who generally did not have access to the Bible and heard homilies in Latin every Sunday, a language they could not understand.  Due to the interest of Renaissance scholarship, the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures became more widely available in western Europe for the first time.  God used these events to bring about a reform movement back to the source of truth, the Holy Scriptures, and to restore the purity of the gospel in the tenets of the Reformation: upon the Scriptures alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, for God’s glory alone.  On Sunday, November 3rd, in the afternoon following a potluck at church, you will have an opportunity to learn more.  I would like to invite everyone, including friends, relatives and neighbors to our first ever Reformation History talk.

Church History is important to the body of Christ.  It is our history, as God’s people.  It lets us know where we’ve come from, gives us an opportunity to praise God for what He has done, warns us of the errors of the past (which tend to keep reappearing under new names), and gives us hope that the God of our fathers is the same God who leads us today.  As we follow Him, in thankfulness for what He has done in history, let us also remember that as His Church we are to be ever increasing in our knowledge and application of what He requires of us.  A watchword of the 16th century Reformation was, Semper Reformanda – “always reforming”, (from Latin.)  God has helped us until now, but we always have room for improvement.  The correct attitude toward obedience to God as His church is to always be willing to change in ways (and only in those specific ways) that God requires of us in His word, the Holy Bible.  Just as individual Christians are to be brought more and more into conformity to Christ, so it is with His Church made up of them.  May God continue to richly bless us and reform us in accordance with His word.

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Announcing: Reformation History Talk 2013

Reformation History Talk

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On a providential day: October 31, 1517, a humble protest by a conscientious monk and University Bible professor named Martin Luther set off a chain of events which changed the world and altered the course of history. Let us take time to reflect on a mighty work of God in the past and its contemporary relevance.

What: First-Ever Reformation History Talk

When: Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 1:00 PM

Location: Hope Congregational Church, 40981 County Road GG, Bethune, CO

Topic: What was the Protestant Reformation? Why was it necessary? And what does it mean for us today?

Speaker: Rev. Riley Fraas

Come and join us for a discussion followed by a question and answer period and special music from the Hope Congregational Church Choir. No RSVP needed. Bring a friend. You won’t want to miss this historic occasion.

Facebook event page: http://tinyurl.com/kh4gpjj

Exodus 15:1 I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

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God’s Remarkable Providence in the Sack of Rome by Charles V in 1527

“The Sack of Rome”, Year, 1527.  Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, set out to get Luther at the Diet of Worms.  Instead, in a remarkable providence, he joins forces with the German Protestants to sack Rome, making Pope Clement VII hole up in the castle of St. Angelo while Charles’ army pillages.   The Romanists were distracted from fighting against the Reformation by fighting against each other.  It was a boon to the unhindered growth and success of the Reformation.  While Charles V was busy fighting the pope and occupying Rome, the gospel was going forth with power in northern Europe.  Glory be to God.  This is an illustration of that verse, ” The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. ” Psalm 19:15

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