Season 1 – Episode 6

The Spiritual Tribulations of Martin Luther: the Devil & Salvation

Ep. 6 Martin Luther & the devil with Noah Garcia

Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Grace Alone.  These are some of the abiding principles of the Protestant Reformation as first articulated by Martin Luther. It was his great protest on October 31, 1517 that began the new Protestant expression of the Christian faith. Yet, in addition to those “sola” statements of the Lutheran Reformation, there was another inspiration for Luther’s Protest: Evil.

More specifically, so much of Luther’s conduct in the Reformation related to his struggle with Satan, with the personification of evil in the form of the Devil. The development of Luther’s theology and perspective on the Bible was a part of his wider interaction with the problem of evil in his own life. It is impossible to understand Luther and Protestantism without understanding the role of the Devil in Luther’s early theological development.

This project explores Luther’s ongoing struggle with the Devil, his personal vexation with his own sinfulness, and, ultimately, the hope in Christ that Luther found through it all. 

Lucas Cranach the Younger,
“The True Church and the False Church”
Woodcut around 1540


Primary Sources

Martin Luther. Table Talk.  trans. William Hazlitt, Esq. Philadelphia: The Lutheran Publication Society, 2004.

Secondary Sources

Carlos M. N. Eire. Reformations: The Early Modern World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018.

Heiko A.Oberman. Luther: Man between God and the Devil. trans. Eileen Walliser-

Schwartzbart, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Jeffrey Burton Russell. Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986.

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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