Tuesday Sep 22, 2020

Martin Luther's "The Freedom of a Christian"

Possibly the best thing Luther ever wrote (for my money only the Large Catechism offers the best competition for that claim), "The Freedom of a Christian" turns 500 this year and accordingly merits even more attention than usual. In this episode Dad and I explore the two halves of the treatise, one each for "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none" and "A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all," drawing out the powers of faith and joyful exchanges that illuminate the apparent contradiction—and how to live as both a lord and a servant half a millennium later.


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1. You can find older public domain translations of "The Freedom of a Christian" online (often under the title "On Christian Liberty"). In print, try the Luther's Works translation (which is what we read from in this episode) or the newer translation by Mark Tranvik. We also discuss in passing the Large Catechism, Small Catechism, and 1519 Galatians commentary.

2. This is the Luther seminar I teach every November in Wittenberg

3. Dad's one and only work of fiction: Luther vs. Pope Leo (I admit I was skeptical at first, but it's actually really good—and if we have any Methodist listeners out there, you'll be amused to learn that John Wesley saves the day... sort of)

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