Memo from Martin Luther to Pastors: Members Who Refuse to be Taught Should Not be Fed

I’m about half way through Carl Trueman’s book Luther on the Christian Life (Crossway). I can appreciate Luther’s appreciation and insistence on the importance of catechesis. The evangelical church has seen an increasing number who want to downplay the importance of doctrine. Luther would have nothing of this and suggested some rather stern measures for those who refused teaching. I’m not suggesting we follow them. Just found it interesting. All my kids are still eating. Trueman writes,

“Luther’s purpose in catechizing is connected to his theology: faith has content. To understand law and gospel, one needs doctrinal knowledge. To understand Christ’s work, one needs doctrinal knowledge. To have a ‘relationship’ with God, one needs doctrinal knowledge. Indeed, the antithesis between doctrine and relationship that is a mark of certain strands of contemporary Christianity would have been incomprehensible to Luther. . . . Luther even contends that those who refuse to be catechized should be refused the sacrament, denied food, and subject to banishment by the prince.” (p. 112)

He gives the following quote from Luther.

“If any refuse to receive your instruction, tell them that they deny Christ and are no Christians. They should not be admitted to the sacrament, be accepted as sponsors in Baptism, or be allowed to participate in any Christian privileges. On the contrary, they should be turned over to the pope and his officials, and even to the devil himself. In addition, parents and employers should refuse to furnish them with food and drink and should notify them that the prince is disposed to banish such rude people from the land.” (Preface to the Small Catechism, BC, 339. BC = The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ed. Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg, 2959)

 

Luther

 

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About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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