Dr. Matthew Phillips

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.

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

“God Crowns His Own Gifts” Commemoration of St. Augustine of Hippo

One day someone asked Martin Luther whether godly persons should expect merit for their good works that result from their justification.  Luther answered that even the justified were still sinners, who pray for forgiveness and live under grace.  While God … Continue reading

Steadfast Dying

Elector John of Saxony died on August 15, 1532.  While he was the fifth of seven children born to Elisabeth of Bavaria and Ernest of Saxony, he inherited the title of Elector in 1525 when his older brother, Frederick the … Continue reading

God Makes Rulers Mad

“For God the Almighty has made our rulers mad; they actually think they can do–and order their subjects to do–whatever they please.  And the subjects made the mistake of believing that they, in turn, are bound to obey their rulers … Continue reading

Jesus IS Our Friend

At his table one day Martin Luther said, “Christ is friendlier than we are.  If I can be good to a friend, how much more will Christ be good to us!”  (LW 54:143)  In this blog post I will discuss … Continue reading

Becoming Steadfast: Politics and the Lutheran Reformation (Part 2)

For part one of this series, click here. When Martin Luther departed Worms in May 1521 his earthly future seemed bleak.  According to the edict of Worms Luther was a heretical outlaw.   In order to protect Luther and his own … Continue reading

Martin Luther and the Enthusiasts-Part III

This third post on this topic will focus on Dr. Luther’s response to the Enthusiasts and how this response shaped the Lutheran Confessions. Martin Luther responded initially to both men’s teachings with letters.  In July 1524 he published an open … Continue reading

Martin Luther and the Enthusiasts-Part II

In this second post on this topic we will examine the basic teachings of Andreas Karlstadt and Thomas Müntzer in the early 1520s (part 1 can be found here).  Both men challenged Luther’s teachings on the Word and Sacraments. These … Continue reading