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What Luther Says

A Few Words Regarding Books About The Book...

Please take a look at these two pictures...

Either I robbed a local Christian bookstore in the last few days or I'm doing my part to help keep Concordia Publishing House in business, right?

Well, the truth is that Yours Truly was blessed mightily this Christmas! These are all the books I received as gifts and I can't wait to read them! Think of it as part of my recovery following my escape from American Evangelicalism several months ago.

However, if there's one thing I've learned since coming out of American Evangelicalism, then it's that discussing, reading, and studying the latest Christian bestsellers should never supplant your time discussing, reading, and studying the Holy Bible itself.

That's why I will echo Martin Luther's sentiments on this very same subject...

Luther knew that preachers would be tempted to circumvent Scripture for commentaries, but Scripture, he asserted, must be primary. He cautioned,
"The Bible will be buried under a mass of literature about the Bible, and the text itself will be neglected."17
Luther consulted many commentaries, but he never neglected the diligent reading of Scripture. Even reading of the church fathers, Luther feared, could be substituted for actual Bible reading:
"The writings of all the holy fathers should be read only for a time, in order that through them we may be led to the Holy Scriptures."18
The danger, he said, is that a man can spend so much time reading the fathers that he "never comes to the Scriptures."19 Luther further asserted:
"We are like men who study the signposts and never travel the road. The dear fathers wished by their writing, to lead us to the Scriptures, but we so use them as to be led away from the Scriptures.”20
For Luther, there must be a full intake of the Scriptures before there could be an outflow of biblical truth in preaching. Witnessing the neglect of personal Bible reading by many in the ministry, Luther lamented:
"Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They rely on...books to get a sermon out of them. They do not pray; they do not study; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture. ... They are nothing but parrots and jackdaws, which learn to repeat without understanding.”21
To overlook personal reading of the biblical text, Luther believed, was to be underdeveloped in the pulpit. Luther saw it as his duty to toil daily in the Bible. He declared, "The Scripture alone is our vineyard in which we must all labor and toil."22 Preachers, he contended, must never become sidetracked to other fields, but must keep themselves immersed in Scripture. He said, "The call is: watch, study, attend to reading."23 This, he felt, was the preacher’s first duty. The power of preaching, Luther saw, is directly connected to the preacher’s depth in the Word:
"The best preacher is the man who is best acquainted with the Bible, who has it not only in his memory but in his mind, who understands its true meaning, and can handle it with effect."24
In other words, a thorough knowledge of the text prepares a man to become a strong force in the pulpit. Luther said, "He who is well acquainted with the text of Scripture is a distinguished theologian."25 Such biblical saturation was true of Luther, and it deeply impacted his sermons.

*- The Heroic Boldness Of Martin Luther
(A Long Line of Godly Men Profile),
Steven J. Lawson

Like Luther said, don't be "parrots and jackdaws, which learn to repeat without understanding," but diligently study the Scriptures more than you do any book about them, because that is what's actually consistent with what God's Word has to say: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, it's a noble thing for Christians to be well read, but only so far as any Christian book points you back to The Book that contains God's Word.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. Lutheran Layman:
    My Thanks for your Blogs & for your presence here at Google+; I've already 'Shared' a couple pieces here at Facebook's "Emergent Church Awareness" group to which I contribute frequently; Thanks Again....

  2. F. Steve Malloy,

    I am humbled by your kind words -- much appreciated so thank you very much. To God be the glory!

    I'll be sure to check out that group as well.

    Grace And Peace,


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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