About Dr. Matthew Phillips

My name is C. Matthew Phillips and I am an Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, Nebraska. I completed my Ph.D. in medieval European history at Saint Louis University in 2006. My research has focused on medieval monasticism, preaching, devotion to the True Cross, and the Crusades. Additionally, I have interests in medieval and early modern European education and the writings and life of Martin Luther.


At Concordia I teach World Civilization I, World Civilization II, Europe Since 1914, Early and Medieval Christianity, Renaissance and Reformation, The Medieval Crusades, The History of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, and The Modern Middle East.

Do the Work But Forsake the Anxiety

“I have seen many youths, excellently brought up and very well educated, who nevertheless became completely corrupt once they lost their teachers and came into their inheritance, others, lacking in upbringing and education, were good men.  What are we to … Continue reading

Dr. Luther’s Warning to the German People

“…it is not fitting for me, as a preacher, vested with the spiritual office, to wage war or to counsel war on incite it, but rather to dissuade from war and to direct to peace, as I have done until … Continue reading

Christians Teach Morals and All the Virtues

In his lectures on Galatians, published in 1535, Dr. Luther discussed the Law as the means by which God reveals sin and brings God’s just punishment on sinners. Second, he identified the Gospel of the free forgiveness in Jesus Christ … Continue reading

Righteousness Comes From Faith

While Martin Luther had formulated the theology of justification from 1515 to 1519, his theological opponents within the papal court called for an ecclesiastical trial for his “false teaching.”  Political circumstances in Europe had distracted his theological enemies and the … Continue reading

A Tiny Error Overthrows the Whole Teaching

“A little yeast leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9 In Dr. Luther’s commentary on this verse, we may observe his typical approach in dealing with false teaching.  Even when someone seems to agree with right doctrine in most matters, divergence … Continue reading

Pride

Pride (superbia) was the foundation of all sin in medieval piety and theology.  A concept well-established on the Bible and the Church Fathers, pride was the devil’s original sin. Augustine of Hippo explained that pride was the original sin of … Continue reading

Our Righteousness Descends to Us

Martin Luther published his edited lectures on Galatians in 1519. In these lectures, we may examine Dr. Luther’s new understanding of justification by faith alone in Christ’s promises.  When he commented on Galatians 2:16-21, Luther discussed the difference between divine … Continue reading

Martin Luther Against Scholastic Theology

We saw that Martin Luther began his rediscovery of the Gospel during his lectures on Romans in 1515-16 (Cause of Salvation). Although Dr. Luther became famous because of the publication of the Ninety-Five Theses in November 1517, his scholarly activities since … Continue reading

The Cause of Salvation

“In human teachings the righteousness of man is revealed and taught, that is, who is and becomes righteous before himself and before other people and how this takes place. Only in the Gospel is the righteousness of God revealed (that … Continue reading

Reformers Are Not Radicals

The Evangelical Lutheran princes of the Holy Roman Empire presented their confession of faith to Emperor Charles V on June 25, 1530.  This document became known as the Augsburg Confession because the meeting took place in Augsburg (in modern southern … Continue reading

The Princess of the Whole Human Race

“Filius ita factus est homo, ut a spiritu sancto sine virili opera conciperetur et ex Maria pura, sancta, semper virgine nasceretur…” Dass der Sohn sei also Mensch worden, das er vom heiligen Geist ohn männlich Zutun empfangen und von der … Continue reading

Ruling the World Through Reading Books

“The world is indeed a sick thing; it is the kind of fur on which neither hide no hair is any good.  The healthy heroes are rare, and God provides them at a dear price.  Still the world must be … Continue reading

Dr Luther on the Office of the Ministry

“This much is sure: Whoever despises the office of the ministry will not think very highly of the Gospel.” [Martin Luther, The Sermon on the Mount, LW 21:226] Dr. Luther wrote these words in the early 1530s.  He preached on … Continue reading

Dr Luther on the Soldier’s Obedience and Just War

“A second question: ‘Suppose my lord were wrong in going to war.’  I reply: If you know for sure that he is wrong, then you should fear God rather than men, Acts 4 [5:29], and you should neither fight nor … Continue reading

The Reformation and Laity Today-Part III

The life of the baptized lay person today should look very similar to the life of the baptized in the sixteenth century.  Most importantly, this baptized priest will gather with the communion of the saints weekly (or more often) to … Continue reading

Luther on Vocation and the Christian Life-Part II

This post is the second on this topic.  In order to read part I, go here: Luther on Vocation Part I Dr. Martin Luther often preached and taught regarding the doctrine of vocation.  His sermons, particularly the collections known as the … Continue reading

A Gracious and Merciful God

“Now, if you are afraid to go to the Sacrament, and your conscience frightens you, as if you were unworthy, put this verse into your heart and on your lips.  Then you must hear and feel how sincerely He calls … Continue reading

Luther on Vocation and the Christian Life-Part I

In the sixteenth century Dr. Martin Luther’s teaching on the office of Christian priesthood liberated the laity from the servitude to an elite spiritual class of tonsured priests who did the really spiritual works on their behalf.  However, having been … Continue reading

Luther on Pride of Students

“We have many students here who are so full of knowledge after they have been in Wittenberg half a year that they suppose they are more learned than I am. When they go out into the country to other people, … Continue reading

The Word Became Flesh

“Thus the most precious treasure and strongest consolation we Christians have is this: that the Word, the true and natural Son of God, became man, with flesh and blood like that of any other human; that He became incarnate for … Continue reading

The Holy Cross Cannot Be Found Wanting: Luther on Persecution and Martyrdom

Martin Luther never softened his message to make it more acceptable.  He did not do this for his theological opponents, his colleagues, or his agreeable listeners or readers.  If there is something for which we may praise (and criticize) Dr. … Continue reading

The Freedom of the Christian

“To make the way smoother for the unlearned—for only them do I serve—I shall set down the following two propositions concerning the freedom and the bondage of the spirit: A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to … Continue reading

The Reformation of Penance

When Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, he sought to redefine the foundation of late medieval piety: the sacrament of penance.  While he argued that Christ “willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance,” Luther … Continue reading

Luther on Just War Against the Turks

In the early sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire had become the dominant power in the Middle East.  When Suleiman the Magnificent (r.1520-66) became Sultan in 1520 the empire included modern Turkey, Syria, Northern Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, the west coast … Continue reading

Luther on the Crusades

“The popes have never seriously intended to wage war against the Turk; instead they used the Turkish war as a cover for their game and robbed Germany of money by means of indulgences whenever they took the notion….If they had … Continue reading