Apparently, Duke George’s intervention with the Leipzig University Theology Faculty (see post “December 30, 1518“) got the desired result — or he decided that he did not need the faculty’s permission regarding the proposed debate. Whatever the case, the Duke writes to Johannes Eck:

Dear and trustworthy Sir! We have received your request to hold your debate with Dr. Karlstadt at Leipzig, and have graciously noted the same, being pleased that you have chosen our university. We trust to you that this debate may not be dangerous, but only for the sake of elucidating the truth. We have therefore given orders to our university to grant your request. …

Meanwhile, at the University of Wittenberg, Prof. Martin Luther continues his second series of lectures on the Psalms for the young theology students (and aspiring preachers).


Commentary on Psalm 8:2. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

We have [the words] “you have established or perfected.” For it is not enough to teach the Word of God, if it is not rightly taught. Thus Paul instructed Timothy that he should handle the Word “rightly.”[2 Tim. 2:15] For there are many wrongly-anxious and vain preachers, who rage and make a great ado, not knowing all the while that it is one thing to plant and another thing to give the increase: these preachers want all things to be done as soon as they have spoken the words, not so much desiring to be heard because they speak forth the Word of God, as because they are the teachers of the Word; thus striving that the instrument should be commended rather than the Word that is sounded forth.

This is the case with those who promise to themselves that they shall touch, work upon, and immediately convert, now these persons and now those, by words that they have previously conceived and meditated. Whereas by the wonderful working of God, it comes to pass that they are the farthest possible from accomplishing that which they have imagined in their thoughts. For the soul naturally feels that all words of that sort are the words of the man himself, composed by himself, and covered with human filth as Ezekiel says, [4:12f.], that is, polluted with human emotions; and therefore the soul is nauseated by such a word, and is stirred up to wrath against it, rather than converted by it.

Instead, the soul is the moved when it hears nothing of the attempt of the speaker but the free Word of God only. For the Word being free and pure will have itself spoken forth in public, and will touch those of whom the preacher himself knows nothing. Of this we have many examples on record. (Second Lectures on the Psalms, published as Operationes in Psalmos, “Works on the Psalms”, beginning in Mar 1519)


2 thoughts on “December 31, 1518

  1. That is the challenge–to preach creatively and movingly, yet not so as to call attention to the preacher but rather that the hearer might hear the Word anew or grasp some facet of the Word that had thus far escaped the listener. It is both a joy and a burden to preach!


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