Why your Pastor should read Luther this summer

Arguing against Erasmus, Dr. Martin Luther, of blessed and holy memory, wrote, “Therefore, it is not irreverent, inquisitive, or superfluous, but essentially salutary and necessary for a Christian, to find out whether the will does anything or nothing in matters pertaining to eternal salvation” (Bondage of the Will 116).  This same understanding of man is asserted in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession saying, “Knowledge of original sin is a necessity. For we cannot know the magnitude of Christ;s grace unless we first recognize our malady” (AP II.33).

Maybe the title of this article should be, ‘Why your pastor should read Luther everyday,” but since it is summer This seemed appropriate. Why should your pastor read Luther this summer? Reason number one is to be a better preacher. If you have a great preacher in your pastor he will only improve by reading Luther. Luther’s understanding of the will of man guides the proclamation of the Pastor. Your pastor is placed into the pulpit to do one thing; to free you from the bondage of sin, death, and the power of the devil by proclaiming the Gospel of the forgiveness of your sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Luther’s Bondage of the Will asserts this work of the ministry. Reading Luther will only help your pastor better understand what he is to do when preaching both in the Church service and to the individual member either in his study, the hospital, or in their homes.

The second reason to read Luther this summer is to prevent your pastor from reading some other junk. I’m not talking about other good Lutheran writings, but other theological works that contradict the Lutheran Confessions. I doubt any pastor has read all of Luther’s Works. Ask your pastor that. If he says no then ask him to start that process. Reading Luther everyday instead of evangelical material is like filling your stomach with kale and spinach so that you are too stuffed to attempt the Snickers bar.

The third and final reason that your pastor should read Luther this summer is because he needs it. Your pastor is not fed by another pastor on a weekly basis. He does not get to hear sermons every Sunday and sit in bible study. He doesn’t get to have that gift every week. He should have a Father Confessor in order to confess his sins and be fed accordingly with Holy Absolution. However, he does not have anything on Sunday mornings. What he does have is Luther. He should read the Scriptures everyday, the Confessions everyday, and in addition to this read Luther everyday. This will feed your pastor the good things of the Gospel.   This is the most important reason why your pastor should read Luther this summer. He should read Luther in order to be fed and comforted in the forgiveness of his sin in order that he may proclaim that same gospel to you. If you pastor doesn’t own Luther’s Works get them for him. If he doesn’t like books, get him the CD. I’m sure there is a kindle version. Encourage your pastor to read Luther and you will benefit from it as well. Let us not tire of doing good for one another, but build each other up int he forgiveness of our sins and the eternal life we share in the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.


Why your Pastor should read Luther this summer — 15 Comments

  1. having read through the 55 volumes I find that reading a little Luther ever day keeps the minds going–especially at this age!!!!

  2. “I doubt any pastor has read all of Luther’s Works. Ask your pastor that. If he says no then ask him to start that process. Reading Luther everyday instead of evangelical material is like filling your stomach with kale and spinach so that you are too stuffed to attempt the Snickers bar.”

    Congratulations! You present both a straw man and a false dichotomy in one short paragraph.

    Orthodox Lutheran pastors don’t read Evangelical literature.

    And for reading something every day, how about the Bible. The Bible, not Luther’s Works, is God’s Word. There are plenty of Lutheran pastors, who don’t even do that.

    And Jesus, not Luther, is our Savior.

  3. Thank you for a wonderful, encouraging article! If we are to be “Lutheran” it seems we should be shepherded by someone who knows what that means. Studying Scripture, the Confessions, and Luther is the way to orthodoxy and orthodox preaching. I would encourage laypeople to get Luther’s works in their church library and then promote it for others to read as well as their pastor. We all could use a little Luther in our diets!

    @Robert #2 “Orthodox Lutheran pastors don’t read Evangelical literature.” Some do – to better understand the enemy. Personally, reading the RC Confutation was a great way to understand how the Word can be twisted, especially after looking up all the corresponding verses they used for their arguments.

    Also, Pr. Hull writes that Pastors should be reading Scriptures every day. Perhaps you missed that in the article?

  4. Robert I am truly sorry that you feel that just because a Pastor reads Luther every day it means that he does not read Scripture. No one that I know, including myself, has read all of what Luther wrote. There are still many things in German and Latin that many are unable to use. I also read Louis L’Amour books during Lent, should that be stopped? There are many hours of the day to devote to various kinds of reading including Scripture, the Confessions, Luther, Melanchton, Pieper, Preus, etc, etc. I do pray that you will report back to us your reading material. God’s richest blessings in your reading.

  5. @ Robert

    I loved the article. I wish it listed the books in order of importance.

    I’ll be frank, I was sorry to see your post. It’s really angry and there is no reason for it.

    The author does not create a false dichotomy either. He does not present only two alternatives and make a corresponding claim that only one option is the viable choice, when a third equally viable alternative exists.

    Nor is there a strawman argument.

    The author may have a bias, but what do you expect on a Lutheran site?

  6. Dr. Louis Brighton, of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis wrote
    about 15 years ago about the alarming decline in Biblical
    knowledge among LCMS clergy.

    He was deeply concerned that too many pastors are dedicating
    too much time as CEO’s of their parish. Instead of the lopsided
    emphasis on parish administration they should spend half their
    time studying the Bible and theology and the other half of their
    time on preaching, teaching, and visiting.

  7. Perhaps the laity should also be encouraged to read some Luther. After all, not all of his writings were written for/to pastors and theologians.

  8. CFW Walther often lamented how the doctrine of justification was treated and at times taken for granted in Lutheranism. When this happens, it is eventually lost completely.

    In one essay, Walther addresses both preachers and hearers, suggesting several measures that should be taken to awaken the lost consciousness of justification. To pastors he gives one word: Study! Study the Word of God and especially the Epistles of Paul. Study the Confessions. Study Luther. The fruit of this study will be, “that they, pastors, evidence all faithfulness in this improved knowledge thus acquired by God’s grace, untiringly promote the pure doctrine of justification as the basic and chief doctrine, inculcate it in their hearers, and conform all their sermons, catechism instruction, private teaching, admonitions, reprimands, consolations, counseling, in short, their total care of souls and congregational leadership to the pure doctrine of justification as the root, the central point, and the crown of all doctrine.”

    “With respect to the hearers, however, it will be essential above all that they be directed to this pure pasture of the sweet Gospel, which alone make one willing and glad to do good works. They should especially be introduced to Luther’s writings, have awakened within them the joy of reading the same, be helped to understand them, be shown the essential difference between them and all other human devotional books without exception, and be made aware of the proper use of the treasures of clear perception and of deep Christian experience contained in them.” Walther goes on to say that if this were to actually happen, the pure doctrine of justification would soon return and, “with the return thereof, by the repossession of this most precious treasure of doctrine, the blessing would be renewed that the age of the Reformation, comparable only to that of the apostles, so richly enjoyed.” (Essays For The Church, Volume I, CPH 1992, p 54).

    In Christ, Clint

  9. Brothers:

    As a good follow-up discussion, I would like to ask readers of Luther what your favorite “obscure” work of Luther is, and why. A lot of the favorites are often referred to (Comm. on Galatians, Genesis, Bondage of the Will, On Christian Freedom, Catechisms and Smalcald Articles, 95 Theses). But how about lesser known Luther works that have been helpful?

    I would like to commend people to read Luther’s Commentary on Zechariah. It is very insightful on angels, Old Testament prophecy, comfort (especially for pastors), and the conscience. Very good stuff. Also on Christ’s passion.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  10. @Rev. Robert Mayes #11
    A fascinating read for me has also been not a book by Luther, but about him. One written by a Catholic priest in France. It is called, “Luther’s Faith” by Daniel Olivier. He essentially says that Luther was right about the Gospel and the Catholic Church ought to stop being so obstinate and acknowledge this.

  11. @Rev. Robert Mayes #11

    I’m currently studying “Whether Soldiers Can Be Saved” with my Pastor.

    Also, not a book by Luther or a book about Luther, but one he valued and translated, the Theologia Germanica.

  12. @Rev. McCall #12

    Rev. McCall:

    Sounds excellent! I have a feeling, though, that if the Catholic church acknowledged that Luther was right all along, they would implode…

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

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