Barth on Luther

What Karl Barth asked about Luther in 1933 is still worth pondering this Reformation Day:

“What else was Luther than a teacher of the Christian church whom one can hardly celebrate in any other way but to listen to him?”


In the News

The ‘Trolley Problem’ and Moral Progress – Steve Fuller

For pastors, here are some great illustrations.

The Chicago Cubs’ Religious Context – Andrew Beaton and Kevin Helliker

More sermon material here.

Supreme Court case on Columbia church could have national implications – Rick Montgomery

Playground and religious freedom. Read more here.

Karl Barth and the all-sufficient word “indeed”

Do you want to appear intelligent and attentive in any conversation? Karl Barth once said that you only need one word: Indeed.


To strongly affirm…indeed!

To be noncommittal…rub your chin and say…indeed

Questioning, raise your eyebrows…indeed?

To be blandly neutral, sigh and say…indeed

Bored to tears, politely nod and say…indeed…………

Express surprise…indeed!?

To give support, smile and say…indeed.


This word can get you through meetings, classes, and even the holidays.

In the News

Pronouns, Ordinary People, and the War over Reality – Anthony Esolen

Do not dismiss the war on pronouns. Read more here.

Pope’s words open door to confusion – Michelle Smith

“Francis is fond of ‘creating a mess.’ Mission accomplished.” Read more here.

“Freedom” vs. “Liberty” – Stephanie Russell

The word “liberty” brings something extra to the table. Read more here.

John 17: What to preach this Reformation season

What about John 17 and Christian unity?

Raymond E. Brown, renown Roman Catholic New Testament scholar and specialist in the “Johannine community,” helps with John 17:21-22. Read more here.

Luther on the famine of the hearing of the Word:

“I refrain from saying anything about the utterly stupid and incompetent persons whom bishops and abbots nowadays promote everywhere to the pulpit. We really cannot say that they are called and sent, even if we wanted to, because in this case incompetent and unworthy men are given the call. This is the work of God’s wrath, for it is he who withdraws his Word from us on account of our sins, and he increases the number of vacuous talkers and verbose babblers.”[1]

Luther in a sermon April 7, 1521: “He pronounced the world ‘utterly perverted’ and blamed it on the absence of faithful preachers. Among perhaps 3,000 preachers, he contended, only four good ones could be found.”[2]


[1] LW 25:447; Commentary on Romans 12:7 (1516). Above translation from Wilhelm Pauck, ed. and trans., Luther: Lectures on Romans. Library of Christian Classics 15 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961) 335-36.

[2] LW 51:65; quoted in Scott H. Hendrix, Martin Luther. Visionary Reformer (New Haven: Yale, 2015) 102.

Pope celebrates 499 years of Reformation

Wait a sec. Shouldn’t the Pope be making a major trip to Wittenberg in 2017 to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation?

Instead he’s commemorating the Reformation in 2016, in Lund, Sweden.

Is the Vatican math wrong or what? Read more here.

Barth on “and”

In 1963 Karl Barth said: “The greatest obstacle to reunion between Protestants and Catholics is a little word which the Catholic Church adds after nearly every one of our Protestant affirmations. It is the little word ‘and.’ When we say Jesus, Catholics say ‘Jesus and Mary’. We seek to obey Christ, our only Lord: Catholics obey Christ and his Vicar on earth, the Pope. We believe the Christian is saved through the merits of Jesus Christ: Catholics add, ‘and our own merits’, that is, because of works. We believe the sole source of Revelation is Scripture: Catholics add and Tradition’. We say knowledge of God is obtained by faith in His word expressed in Scripture: Catholics add and by reason.”

Barth concludes: “Practically the whole problem comes to discussing in what measure we can agree on the sense to be given to this little word ‘and“.

(“Karl Barth: His Views on the New Oecumenical Climate,” The Tablet [March 2, 1963] 24.)

In the News

Church Attacks: Love Alone Will Not Save Us – George Igler

Concern for “unity” is a pretext to censor those who ask the hard questions. Read more here.

Called to Common Confirmation – The Living Church

ELCAers happy to do things the Episcopal way. Read more here.

Lutheran Hall of Shame: How Lowell Almen betrayed the ELCA on CCM

As the ELCA adopts ordained deacons at it August 2016 Churchwide Assembly, remember how Lowell Almen double-crossed the church in 1999.

• August 1999: The ELCA adopts the Tucson Resolution as “binding.”

• Lowell Almen tells Episcopal officials: The ELCA did not adopt the Tucson Resolution as a binding interpretation!

• November 1999: Lowell Almen tells the ELCA Church Council the Tucson Resolution is not binding.

Why all this maneuvering? Why were Lutherans misled? Because top ELCA leaders knew all along that the ELCA must adopt the threefold hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon to fully achieve full communion with the Episcopal Church. Read more here and here.