Martin Luther’s Neighborhood

If people could pick a presidential candidate for a next door neighbor, they’d choose Democrats over Republicans. (Probably Democrats are more huggable, or maybe people think Hillary would bake better banana bread than Ron Paul.) If you could pick a theologian for a next door neighbor who would you choose, Luther or Calvin? A Lutheran friend and I have discussed this. It is as deep as we go theologically, and we always agree.

We think Calvin would make a cold neighbor — one of those pallid, big-brained, sickly-scholarly types who would decline your invitation to party to write the 5000th chapter of Institutes. Even setting aside the possibility that he might burn you to death at the stake, there’s always the fact that he formed a search committee to help find him a wife. (I heard this once from a Calvinist, and I’ve never been able to like Calvin since. It makes me think of the shriveled scholar in Middlemarch, whose coldness froze his wife’s passion and love.)

Luther, though, was one of those big warm beery men. He was a little more human, more fat flesh and blood. He wrote hymns to tavern tunes and he said, “He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.” Luther probably liked keggers.

I set little stock in political polls by real estate agents, but if I ever pick a theology I’ll base my choice on the vibes that I get from dead theologians.


~ by stultiloquence on January 24, 2008.

7 Responses to “Martin Luther’s Neighborhood”

  1. sin boldly.
    i vote dr reist for my neighbor.

  2. I read a lot about Luther for my thesis these days, because he said wonderful things about music and the Lord.

    I like him more and more, especially when I consider that turning bar songs into church songs means he probably went to bars.

    Also, he was very moody, which makes it easy to relate to him.

    I’m trying to decide if I think most Lutherans and Calvinists fit the stereotypes of their leader.

  3. abby – wow, i think i may relate to that side of luther, too. i don’t think lutheran stereotypes match their leader but i don’t know if i’ve known enough lutherans to tell. i think calvinist stereotypes do match calvin. honestly, i think that being a calvinist encourages you to think in a certain rigid, systematic way and that’s why i object to it. parts of calvinism may be true, but i hate the way it seems to make people approach theology. i think i’m echoing birzer here – systematic theology vs. dogmatic theology.

  4. You should also mention that Calvin burned a heretic. I feel like I got to be your muse.

  5. I did mention that Calvin burned a heretic! How could I leave that out? You were my muse.

  6. Oh yeah…you did mention it! Oops. Committee to find a wife…sounds a lot like Hillsdale.

  7. […] I debate I hope I always honestly wonder if I’m wrong, and I hope I’m willing — like I imagine Luther was — to set aside tomes for wine and books for […]

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