Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012

Luther's Table Talk: The "Real" Reformer

Want to know the real Martin Luther? Check out his “Table Talk.” Now, picture this. Martin and his wife Katharina von Bora (known by her illustrious husband as “My Lord Katie”) continually entertained interesting people at their dinner table, including relatives, friends, students, and like-minded theologians. Unadulterated glimpses of the German reformer are enshrined within the sometimes- serious, sometimes-lighthearted pages.  If you want to know the sort of man Luther most often was, the sort of man he would be if you could just run across him in the street, read his Table Talk. There were few subjects he did not cover.

For a sampling, he spoke of the nature of worship in this way: “Upright Christians pray without ceasing; though they pray not always with their mouths, yet their hearts pray continually, sleeping and waking; for the sigh of a true Christian is a prayer. As the Psalm saith: ‘Because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord,’ etc. In like manner a true Christian always carried the cross, though he feel it not always.” He also says, “The Lord’s prayer binds the people together, and knits them one to another, so that one prays for another, and together one with another; and it is so strong and powerful that it even drives away the fear of death.”

Martin Luther never minced words when it came to his enemies. While some might find his descriptions offensive, many admire his courage to “say it like he meant it” concerning those who had incurred his displeasure. Of Erasmus he said, “Erasmus of Rotterdam is the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced the earth. He made several attempts to draw me into his snares, and I should have been in danger, but that God lent me special aid. In 1525, he sent one of his doctors, with 200 Hungarian ducats, as a present to my wife; but I refused to accept them, and enjoined my wife to meddle not in these matters. He is a very Caiaphas.”

Luther was a modest man who hated simpering flattery. He objected to those who followed his doctrine in such a way that he thought elevated him to some sort of idol status. This was the last thing he wanted. Martin Luther had harsh words for those who attempted to raise his importance: “That impious knave, Martin Cellarius, thought to flatter me by saying, ‘Thy calling is superior to that of the apostles;’ but I at once checked him, replying sharply, ‘By no means; I am in no degree comparable to the apostles.’ He sent me four treatises he had written about Moses’ temple and the allegories it involved; but I returned them at once, for they were full of the most arrogant self-glorification.”

There are short glimpses as well. In Table Talk, Luther expounded on the constantly-changing borders of European nations and the misfortune that frequently fell upon various countries. “Our Lord God deals with countries and cities, as I do with an old hedge-stick, when it displeases me; I pluck it up and burn it, and stick another in its stead.”

I highly recommend Table Talk to anyone who thinks they know the “real” Luther and anyone who wishes to. It is an entertaining read.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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