Posts Tagged ‘Luther’

I found a nice site that has the rest of the commandments on it from Luther’s Large Catechism: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/catechism/web/cat-07.html#c5


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Thus far we have learned the first three commandments, which relate to God. First that with our whole heart we trust in Him, and fear and love Him throughout all our life. Secondly, that we do not misuse His holy name in the support of falsehood or any bad work, but employ it to the praise of God and the profit and salvation of our neighbor and ourselves. Thirdly, that on holidays and when at rest we diligently treat and urge God’s Word, so that all our actions and our entire life be ordered according to it. Now follow the other seven, which relate to our neighbor among which the first and greatest is:

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them. For with respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them, so that He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, and places them at His side. For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden, and requires not only that they be addressed kindly and with reverence, but, most of all that both in heart and with the body we so act as to show that we esteem them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. For one whom we are to honor from the heart we must truly regard as high and great.

We must, therefore impress it upon the young that they should regard their parents as in God’s stead, and remember that however lowly, poor, frail, and queer they may be, nevertheless they are father and mother given them by God. They are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore we are not to regard their persons, how they may be, but the will of God who has thus created and ordained. In other respects we are, indeed, all alike in the eyes of God; but among us there must necessarily be such inequality and ordered difference, and therefore God commands it to be observed, that you obey me as your father, and that I have the supremacy.

Learn, therefore, first, what is the honor towards parents required by this commandment to wit, that they be held in distinction and esteem above all things, as the most precious treasure on earth. Furthermore, that also in our words we observe modesty toward them, do not accost them roughly, haughtily, and defiantly, but yield to them and be silent even though they go too far. Thirdly, that we show them such honor also by works, that is, with our body and possessions, that we serve them, help them, and provide for them when they are old, sick, infirm, or poor, and all that not only gladly, but with humility and reverence, as doing it before God. For he who knows how to regard them in his heart will not allow them to suffer want or hunger, but will place them above him and at his side, and will share with them whatever he has and possesses.

Secondly, notice how great, good, and holy a work is here assigned children, which is alas! utterly neglected and disregarded, and no one perceives that God has commanded it or that it is a holy, divine Word and doctrine. -Luther’s Large Catechism

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Therefore this is the simple meaning of the commandment: since holidays are observed anyhow, such observance should be devoted to hearing God’s Word, so that the special function of this day should be the ministry of the Word for the young and the mass of poor people, yet that the resting be not so strictly interpreted as to forbid any other incidental work that cannot be avoided.

Accordingly, when asked, What is meant by the commandment: Thou shalt sanctify the holy day? answer: To sanctify the holy day is the same as to keep it holy. But what is meant by keeping it holy? Nothing else than to be occupied in holy words, works, and life. For the day needs no sanctification for itself; for in itself it has been created holy [from the beginning of the creation it was sanctified by its Creator]. But God desires it to be holy to you. Therefore it becomes holy or unholy on your account, according as you are occupied on the same with things that are holy or unholy. -Luther’s Large Catechism

In context, Luther explained how this commandment was given to the Jews, and them alone. It need not concern a Christian, as we have been set free by Christ. But he meant this in terms of the legalistic interpretation that the Jews, over time, developed. He thinks that a day of rest is useful for by nature our bodies and spirits get tired through a week’s worth of work, so it is good for those who labor to rest and become refreshed once a week. Then he stressed that this day, for a Christian, is not only useful to refresh the body in order to labor again for another week, but also to refresh and renew the soul, by spending some hours with God’s holy word, and enjoying fellowship (he also made it a point that one should read the word daily). He basically says that since people are so busy most of the time, this day of rest is the only time “the masses” can get together for church services regularly. He notes that the day itself does not matter, but what you do on that day. For instance Sunday is meaningless in itself, but it becomes the sabbath when you rest and spend time with God’s word and people.

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“As the First Commandment has instructed the heart and taught [the basis of] faith, so this commandment leads us forth and directs the mouth and tongue to God. For the first objects that spring from the heart and manifest themselves are words. Now, as I have taught above how to answer the question, what it is to have a god, so you must learn to comprehend simply the meaning of this and all the commandments, and to apply it to yourself.

If, then, it be asked: How do you understand the Second Commandment, or what is meant by taking in vain, or misusing God’s name? answer briefly thus: It is misusing God’s name when we call upon the Lord God no matter in what way, for purposes of falsehood or wrong of any kind. Therefore this commandment enjoins this much, that God’s name must not be appealed to falsely, or taken upon the lips while the heart knows well enough, or should know, differently; as among those who take oaths in court, where one side lies against the other. For God’s name cannot be misused worse than for the support of falsehood and deceit. Let4this remain the exact German and simplest meaning of this commandment.

From this every one can readily infer when and in how many ways God’s name is misused, although it is impossible to enumerate all its misuses. Yet, to tell it in a few words, all misuse of the divine name occurs, first, in worldly business and in matters which concern money, possessions, honor, whether it be publicly in court, in the market, or wherever else men make false oaths in God’s name, or pledge their souls in any matter. And this is especially prevalent in marriage affairs where two go and secretly betroth themselves to one another, and afterward abjure [their plighted troth].

But. the greatest abuse occurs in spiritual matters, which pertain to the conscience, when false preachers rise up and offer their Lying vanities as God’s Word.” -Luther’s Large Catechism

Luther goes on, of course, for a couple more pages on this. I think this sheds some light on this often misunderstood commandment.

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The point of this commandment, therefore, is to require that kind of true faith and confidence of the heart that is directed toward the one true God and clings to Him alone. The meaning is: ‘See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never look about for another.’ In other words: ‘Look to Me for any good thing that you lack; come to Me for it. And whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, reach out to Me and hold on to Me. I, and I alone, will satisfy your need and help you in every trouble. Only do not ever let your heart cling to or depend on anything or anybody else.’ -Luther’s Large Catechism

This is part two of my post on the first commandment. Luther goes on for a few more pages. I think this is sufficient for my purposes here, and if you ever pick up a copy of the catechism or find one online, it’s worth the read.

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I’ve been thinking about doing short posts about the ten commandments. Here’s the first one, dealing with “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”.

I will quote Luther in his Large Catechism:

“To rephrase this: ‘You are to regard Me alone as your God.’ What does that mean? How is one to understand it? What is it to have a god? Or, what is one’s god?
Answer: To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by “god.” To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart, nothing else, that make both God and an idol. If your faith and confidence are of the right kind, then your God is the true God. If, on the other hand, your trust is false, if it is misdirected, then you do no have the true God. For these two, faith and God, belong together. To whatver you give your heart and entrust your being, that, I say, is really your God.”

Luther goes on, but I will stop here for now. Maybe tomorrow I will continue it. If not, check it out for yourself if you are so inclined. It is well worth it.

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“Your baptism is nothing less than grace clutching you by the throat: a grace-full throttling, by which your sin is submerged in order that ye may remain under grace. Come thus to thy baptism. Give thyself up to be drowned in baptism and killed by the mercy of thy dear God, saying: ‘Drown me and throttle me, dear Lord, for henceforth I will gladly die to sin with Thy Son’.” -Luther

Ah, Luther…

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