GOLTER'S MUSINGS November 2018

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

  • Rest in Peace

    November 1, 2018

    One must learn how to die. This learning is not automatically downloaded at your Baptism. God must teach you how to die.

    In Martin Luther’s time, the 16th century, a way of preparing to die was taught. It was called ars moriendi, the way of dying. This teaching arose around a century before Luther’s time.

    This teaching directed the individual to confront the uncertainty of dying and their dread of hell.

    To what were they directed? St. Robert Bellarmine, one of the most important cardinals of the Catholic Counter Reformation, and professor of the University of Louvain in Belgium, wrote a most powerful and influential book of his time entitled Art of Dying in 1619. He summarizes well the devotional teaching of the previous 150 years, leading up to his time.

    One dies well, he says, by living well. Living well is to learn the art of exercising virtues, such as: Charity from a pure heart, hope from a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, (trans. John Dalton, Veritatis Splendor Publications, p. 19). Other virtues include living soberly, fasting, Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction.

    The burden is upon the sinner to work the process over time for inner change. Peace is dependent—made possible—on the amount of change done by the person in cooperation with God.

    Lutherans stressed not an inner change, but a change of status declared instantaneously by God in Christ through His Word. The sinner is no longer considered by God as damned but is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus preaches, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” (John 8:36). Jesus said it, so be it.

    Luther wrote a treatise in 1519 entitled A Sermon on Preparing to Die (American Edition 42:97-115). Enjoy this wisdom.

    “We should familiarize ourselves with death during our lifetime, inviting death into our presence when it is still at a distance…At the time of dying, however, this is hazardous and useless, for then death looms large of its own accord,”

    (p. 101-102). The devil makes “our sins seem large and numerous…this is not a fitting time to meditate on sin.”

    And further:

    “You must concern yourself solely with the death of Christ, and then you will find life. But if you look at death in any other way, it will kill you with great anxiety and anguish…The picture of grace is nothing else but that of Christ on the cross,” (p. 104).

    Luther mentions the “right use of the sacraments” and never to let a Christian die alone. During Luther’s day, they did a “shouting into the ears,” surrounding the person with prayers.

    And, finally:

    “In this way, you may view your sins in safety without tormenting your conscience. Here sins are never sins, for here they are overcome and swallowed up in Christ,” (p. 105).

    Bottom line: Christ has already taken care of your dying and death. He will deliver you (Ps. 34:7). 

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

  • Wittenberg Beer and Election

    NOVEMBER 8, 2018

    No, this is not a prompt for you to drown your election results’ sorrows in beer or, for that matter, your triumphs as well! This is not a promo for beer, either!

    But, Pastor, what does Wittenberg beer and elections have in common? Good question. Hang with me.

    Many a pastor—including this one—repeated a supposed Luther saying about preaching the Word and then going off and having a beer. Among Lutheran pastors, we cite Luther for many things and, many times, we don’t know from whence it comes.

    Well, I did find the Luther quote about beer. It wasn’t about elections but preaching. So, first let’s go to preaching, and then to beer and elections. Remember, hang with me.

    Luther’s citation:

    In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends, Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything , ( Luther’s Works AE 51:77, emphasis added).

    Luther could have fought for the truth of God’s Word by sword, but he didn’t. He could have bound himself up with worry and anxiety, but he didn’t. Rather, he stuck to his vocation. He preached, taught and wrote God’s Word. Confident in God’s work through the Word, he went off to enjoy a beer with his Reformation buddies. He did nothing; God did everything.

    In this topsy-turvy world, with controversial elections, shootings, dealing with our own waywardness from the Good Shepherd, stick to your vocation.


    Trust the Word.

    Go have a beer.

    And, God will have His way.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran