Lutheranism – The First 500 Years, Part Five, 1917-2017

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A major feature of the fifth century of Lutheranism is what Harold Lindsell calls the “Battle for the Bible.”  The battle for the Bible has affected all denominations, not just Lutherans.

As the Bible was subjected to more and more scientific analysis, people started to question some of its accuracy and reliability.

Key elements of the battle for the Bible were:

Is the Bible God’s Word? Did God really inspire people to write it?

Is the Bible historically accurate?

The Bible’s miracles particularly came under scrutiny since miracles, by definition, cannot be explained scientifically.

Can we pick and choose parts of the Bible and ignore the parts we don’t like, especially when it comes to today’s social issues?

Has God revealed books of the Bible in addition to the 66 books that are currently in the Bible?

These are some of the issues that were debated in the battle…

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Miracle On Top of Miracle

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Jesus Walks on Water – Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. [23] And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, [24] but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. [27] But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

[28] And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me…

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Lutheranism – The First 500 Years, Part One, 1517-1617

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Is Lutheranism still relevant to today? Is there any point in celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation?

Dr. Erik H. Herrmann, professor of history at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, maintains that Lutheranism is relevant to today because of why it was started. It was started when Martin Luther realized that the church of his day was guilty of spiritual care malpractice.

Ordinary Christians at the time of Luther were not being given proper spiritual care. Instead of caring for peoples’ souls through the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ, the church was hounding people to buy indulgences, go on pilgrimages, venerate saints and religious relics and pay for private masses. In addition, people were constantly reminded that only monks were truly living a Christian life.

Because people were not getting proper spiritual care from the church they were seeking it in other places. They were delving into mysticism, ancient legends…

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Lutheranism – The First 500 Years, Part Two, 1617 to 1717

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The second 100 years of Lutheranism began with what caused many people to immigrate from Europe to America. For many centuries the princes, kings and emperors of Europe engaged in an endless succession of wars. Many of these wars started over petty grievances or insults or due to attempts by these monarchs to enlarge their territories.

And, as is often the case with war, it was the average people, the foot-soldiers, who paid the highest price for these wars. So when people saw the chance to enjoy some peace and prosperity in America they took it.

The war that took place at the beginning of the second century of Lutheranism is known by its length, the Thirty Years’ War; thirty years of war swept over Europe from 1618 to 1648.

It began when Ferdinand II was elected as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Ferdinand was a devout Roman…

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Lutheranism – The First 500 Years, Part Three, 1717-1817

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As the third century of Lutheranism began, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), one of the greatest musicians of all time, and also a devout Lutheran, was just hitting his stride.

Bach understood the power of music to help enhance the Word of God. He wrote many sacred pieces in which different parts of the Bible come to life. One of his most famous works is the St. Matthew Passion, a musical rendition of Matthew’s account of our Lord’s suffering and death.

Bach was born in Germany into a musical family. His father, as well as several uncles and brothers were professional musicians. His music is in the baroque style and he was a contemporary of George Friederich Handel, the composer who wrote the Messiah.

At the end of most of his works of music Bach would write the Latin phrase: “Soli Deo Gloria,” which means, “To God alone be Glory.”…

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Lutheranism – The First 500 Years, Part Four, 1817 to 1917

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As I pointed out last month, the third century of Lutheranism saw the rise of a new philosophical and theological movement, Rationalism. According to Rationalism, reason, logic and science were the supreme sources of truth and capable of solving all of man’s problems, leaving old-fashioned religious faith as a relic of the past.

For much of the fourth century of Lutheranism, the influence and acceptance of Rationalism continued to grow.

The Industrial Revolution had taken hold with all its marvelous new machinery. Up till now, everything ran on horse power. Now people had the steam engine and other amazing machines to power their dreams.

Prominent philosophers boldly predicted the death of all religion including Christianity. To top it off, Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution during the fourth century of Lutheranism which pushed God even farther out of the picture.

There are two things to keep in…

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