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.

“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

God’s Little Puppet Show

“Now the blind world, because it does not know God and his work, concludes that it is owing to its own cleverness, reason, and strength that a community or dominion endures and thrives.  Accordingly, they gather together great treasures, stuff … Continue reading

Luther on Rulers and History

“A prince must also be very wise and not always try to impose his will, even if he has the right and the best of all reasons to do so.  For it is a far nobler virtue to put up … Continue reading

Martin Luther and the Enthusiasts-Part I

“Christ finds not only Caiaphas among his enemies, but also Judas among his friends.” (Martin Luther, LW 40:66) Martin Luther wrote this sentence in an open letter to Christians in Strasbourg to warn them against Dr. Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt’s … Continue reading

Distinguishing Between Doctrine and Life

This is a re-post from October 2014 that reflects Luther’s teaching on how to deal with false doctrine and its teachers.   “Doctrine and life must be distinguished. Life is bad among us, as it is among the papists, but … Continue reading

Should Lutheran Pastors Chant the Words of Institution?

The English verb, ‘to chant’ derives from the Latin word, ‘cantare,’ which simply means to sing.  Some form of singing or chanting existed in the Christian Church since its inception.  Various forms of chanting in Christian worship evolved during the … Continue reading

Martin Luther, Augustine and the Languages

Originally posted on my blog at wp.cune.edu:   “And, further, if I could bring it to pass among you, I should like to ask that you do not neglect the languages but, since it would not be difficult for you, … Continue reading

Unknowingly Righteous

“For inasmuch as the saints are always aware of their sin and seek righteousness from God in accord with His mercy, for this very reason they are always also regarded as righteous by God.  Thus in their own sight and … Continue reading

Distinguishing Between Doctrine and Life

“Doctrine and life must be distinguished. Life is bad among us, as it is among the papists, but we don’t fight about life and condemn the papists on that account.” (LW 54:110) Dr. Luther spoke these words at his table … Continue reading

Becoming a Christian by Listening

My pastor has been teaching on Paul’s epistle to the Galatians for the past several months in Bible study.  As a good Lutheran pastor he has used Luther’s lectures on Galatians to supplement our study.  Luther gave these lectures to … Continue reading

Luther’s View on Financial Support for the Office of the Holy Ministry

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stated, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) St. Paul also warned against the inordinate desire for money as a hindrance to true faith. (I Timothy 6:9-10) … Continue reading

A True and Bold Confession! Luther and Zwingli-Part III

Ulrich Zwingli and his colleagues responded to Luther’s treatise, That These Words of Christ, “This is My Body,” Etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics. They attempted to refute Luther’s main points and reaffirm their own assertions regarding the Lord’s … Continue reading

Martin Luther on Studying Theology and Reading Scripture

“Moreover, I want to point out to you a correct way of studying theology, for I have had practice in that.  If you keep to it, you will become so learned that you yourself could (if it were necessary) write … Continue reading

Martin Luther on the Multiplication of Laws

“In the papacy we foolish saints added one ordinance to the other.  There were laws without number.  These only terrified the consciences and left people languishing with thirst.  The preachers only intensified the thirst.  This is inevitable.  The teachings of … Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Worship in Chapel: A Response to Rev. Robert Weinkauf’s Post

This blog (at least the few posts I’ve actually made) has focused on my expertise in church history.  I have desired to avoid commenting on any current issues within the Synod on this site because many others already do that … Continue reading

Is Every Christian a Minister?

The answer to this question may change depending on one’s understanding of minister.  If understood broadly, any Christian may serve others.  However, minister usually means someone whom Lutherans commonly call a pastor today.  Therefore, obviously, every Christian is not a … Continue reading

Augustine, Luther, and the Sacraments

“Baptism is a very different thing from all other water, not by virtue of the natural substance but because here something nobler is added, for God himself stakes his honor, his power, and his might on it.  Therefore it is … Continue reading

“There Is No Middle Ground”: Martin Luther, Zwingli and the Lord’s Supper-Part II

This is part 2 of a 3-part series; part 1 is found here   In 1527 Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli both published significant works concerning the Lord’s Supper.  Both represented responses to writings from the previous year.  In his … Continue reading

Great Stuff — No Thanks from the World

Found on Historia et Memoria: “In great part we serve, teach, admonish, suffer, give consolation, and do things commanded by God for unworthy men. Here we gain nothing for our services but hatred, envy, and exile; and our whole life … Continue reading