I work with an Evangelical Lutheran who is struggling with veneration of Mary. I know that Martin Luther often spoke of Mary in his sermons, and I’m wondering if there are any credible and reputable places online to find his sermons, so that I can quote his sermon mentions of Mary to my coworker.
A Lutheran friend of mine explained that Mary,the Mother Of God was esteemd in the Lutheran Church but not worshiped as she is in the Catholic Church.Google,The Book Of Concord,which I believe contains most of Martin Luthers’writings.I think the LCMS and the ELCA view Mary differently.I was told there is a Lutheran rosary,so not sure exactly how much emphasis is put on Mary.I know the Lutheran church also doesn’t venerate saints as we do.
Most of his sermons which discussed Mary at length are from his Advent and Christmas sermons. He wrote very little about her elsewhere. There wasn’t any real need to, given that disagreements over Marian doctrines were an almost non-existent aspect of the Lutheran Reformation. Any debate that did occur at the time was over the intercession of the saints, and that still a very minor argument at the time. Most of the controversy over such things took place within the context of the Reformed and Anabaptist schisms.
I’ve heard that the Lutheran Rosary uses only the Biblical parts of the prayers, so, for example, the Creed (which they accept), and the Lord’s Prayer (with doxology, of course) are “normal”, but only the first half of the Hail Mary is used.
If I may, just a few comments.
Google,The Book Of Concord,which I believe contains most of Martin Luthers’writings
The Book of Concord contains the Lutherans confessions, and by no means contains most of luther’s writings (“Luther’s Works” is multiple volumes). Additionally, it contains only 3 of Luther’s writings - The Small and Large Catechisms, and the Smalkald Articles.
I think the LCMS and the ELCA view Mary differently
the variety of Lutheran marian beliefs is not subect to synodical lines, but rather to the belief that most marian beliefs are adiaphora, and not doctrine. All Lutherans accept as doctrine the Virgin Birth, and Holy Theotokos. Of the others, the Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity is attested to in the Formula of Concord, and the rest are up to the personal piety of the believer. Only invocation is not supported in the confessions.
Thanks for the info Jon.Where can all of Luthers’writings be found? What about the LCMS website?
This is actually somewhat of a myth. Because Luther preached on Marian feast days (but eventually rejecting some of those feast days), it’s assumed he had some sort of deep profound veneration of Mary, and all these Marian feast day sermons he preached are simply filled from start to finish about Mary.
This just isn’t so.
I’ve read a large number of these sermons, and I also have quite a good collection of these sermons. More often than not, the emphasis isn’t on Mary at all. Sure, he mentions her, or may refer to a passage of Scripture in which she’s the topic, but one finds that Mary is usually not the main subject, Christ is. Here is one of those sermons on Luke 1:26-38. Note how Luther’s main concern is Christ, not Mary. Examples from Luther’s sermons similar to this could be multiplied.
This is not to suggest that there are not passages in which Luther says some nice things about Mary. These certainly exist, and I’ve compiled or worked through many of them, locating contexts, etc. But this does not equal a contemporary Roman Catholic understanding of Mary, at all. I blame a number of Roman Catholic apologists for finding more in Luther’s words than is actually there in context.
Regards, James Swan
My pleasure. Here’s one sourcelogos.com/product/15485/luthers-works
But if you look around the web, you can get “selected” works, etc.
I think you hit on the main focus of any Lutheran mariology, and that is the main focus is on Christ. Mary’s perpetual virginity is mentioned in the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord. It says:
On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, bore not a mere man, but, as the angel [Gabriel] testifies, such a man as is truly the Son of the most high God, who showed His divine majesty even in His mother’s womb, inasmuch as He was born of a virgin, with her virginity inviolate. **Therefore she is truly the mother of God, and nevertheless remained a virgin. **
Not surprisingly, this is from the VIII article on “The Person of Christ”.
Mary is not worshiped in the Catholic Church.
Hi Jon, Since I’m not a Lutheran, you would be a lot more familiar with the place of Mary in contemporary Lutheranism than I would. Thanks for the reference!
On the other hand, the subject of Luther’s Mariology has been something I’ve studied for about 10 years. Mentioning it is like waving a Snickers bar in front of a German Shepherd:).
Regards, James Swan
Keep in mind, the volumes of Luther’s Works in English are not “all” of Luther’s writings. A great portion of it still remains in either German or Latin, and many of these volumes in these languages are available online for free.
Regards, James Swan
I think the thing about Luther’s, or any of the other Lutheran reformer’s, mariology is that it can, in hindsight easily be overstated or understated, depending on whose position is being supported. For me, the thing to remember is the focus on Christ, and view it from there.
I’ve read a number of your writings on your website. And actually, a bulldog would be a better analogy than a german shepherd.
I appreciate what you write, even when I disagree, and I mean the above in the most positive way.
You can look at this site:
That Cyberbrethren webpage is a cut-and-paste of one of my old blog entries (2009). I only provided a sampling of Luther’s writings on-line, and I would assume that there’s a lot more and that some of the links I posted no longer work.
There’s really no on-line short cuts to obtaining a large coherently organized selection of Luther’s writings. If someone is really interested, they need to pick up the LW CD Rom (or printed versions) of Luther’s Works, and as an accompanying set, pick up the often republished Lenker set of Luther’s sermons (my set is 7 volumes).
In regard to Luther’s alleged “Marian” sermons, many of these can be tracked down via Google if you know what to look for. Google search such things as the biblical texts for particular Marian feast days along with Luther (trying to avoid hits to Martin Luther King). I would post more links back to my own website which deals extensively with Luther’s Mariology, but I don’t want to come across as proselytizing. Besides, chances are Google will send you there anyway.
Regards, James Swan