Entries tagged with “saint”.

luther-face-webMy latest at First Things went up a few days ago (February 18), to coincide with the anniversary of Luther’s death. Since then, it’s been picked up by Real Clear Religion and the Gospel Coalition, among other sites.

On this day in 1546, Martin Luther fell asleep in the Lord. Lutherans therefore recognize him this day and thank God for him. But let’s be honest: Luther wasn’t always a very nice man.

So begins the article. I go on to discuss Luther’s failings (they are many) before bringing us back to the real reason we remember him:

“This truly is why we remember Luther: not because he was always nice, not because he was always good, and certainly not because he was always right. He wasn’t. Instead, we remember Luther because he directed attention always away from himself to Christ. It is to Christ we look for salvation, not our own holiness.”

Read the whole thing at “Standing with Martin Luther: Remembering a sinful saint.”

(The title of this post is taken from Anthony Sacramone’s tweeted description of my article).


This past Sunday was the celebration for All Saints Day (actually Nov. 1), and the Sunday before that was (at least in my branch of the Christian Church) Reformation Sunday (actually Oct. 31).

Given those two days (All Saints and Reformation), it might be good to share with you my most recent column for The Canadian Lutheran: “Martin Luther: Sinner/Saint.”

Occasionally when sharing my faith with others, I will be met with the reply: “You’re a Lutheran? But don’t you know the terrible things that Martin Luther did?

More often than not, these people are referring to Luther’s treatise On the Jews and their Lies. In this work, Luther writes some dreadful things, including his “sincere advice” to Christians to go and burn down the Jews’ synagogues and schools; destroy their houses; forbid their rabbis to teach under pain of death; deprive them of wealth and property; force young Jewish men and women into hard labour; or simply drive them out of the country. In the years leading up to World War II, the Nazis would rediscover this book of Luther’s and use it in their twisted campaign to first imprison and then murder the Jewish people.

Now there are a whole host of defenses one could fall back on to try to excuse Luther for this book. One could argue that he was simply a product of his times. Antisemitism was prevalent in most of Europe during the Middle Ages, after all, and Luther was merely writing as many thinkers of his age did. Or one could point out that Luther’s book was precipitated by the publication of a Jewish tract which (apparently) aimed to convert Christians to Judaism; Luther was no doubt writing in anger rather than reasoned thought. One could even point out that Luther’s earlier writings on the Jews were generally counsels to love them, not persecute them. Yes, one could do all these things when confronted by people disgusted with Luther and what he wrote. But I suggest there is a better approach to take.

We should agree with them.

Read the rest of the article over at CanadianLutheran.ca.


Plans are apparently in the works to have G.K. Chesterton put on the long road towards canonization by the Roman Catholic Church, reports The Catholic Herald (UK) [see here] and The National Catholic Register (USA) [see here].


Canonization in the Roman Catholic Church is an extremely complex process, frequently taking many years to complete. A bishop must first open an investigation into the life of the deceased [generally no sooner than five years after the date of death], which results in a very thorough study of his/her life. This involves the critical reading of all his/her writings, the gathering of eyewitness accounts of his/her life, and the writing of a detailed biography of the person. The person is eventually recognized as “venerable”, meaning that s/he exhibited a faithful, virtuous life. Then, the person is declared “beatified” or “blessed” meaning that there is strong evidence to believe they have entered heaven. A martyr can be directly declared beatified. All others must first have one miracle officially recognized as having occurred as the result of the deceased’s intervention. If a second miracle is officially recognized, the “beatified” can be recognized as a “saint.” Catholics would also want to remind us that canonization is not in their theology about making someone into a saint, but rather recognizing them as a saint.


Quite a lengthy process, eh? It’s interesting to note that, from a Protestant perspective, we could skip all this rigmarole and just go ahead and proclaim him a saint. In fact, why don’t I? I hereby proclaim G.K. Chesterton a saint.


Confused? Let me explain.


In most of the history of the Church, the term ‘saint’ has always been used to mean ‘Christian’. That means that any Christian, any member of the entire Christian Church, living or dead, can be referred to in this way. Sainthood is not related to our piety or holiness, but rather to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Those called by Christ are made holy through Him – sainted, if you prefer. The very word for ‘saint’ in Latin (sanctus) is related to the concept of being ‘sanctified’. And as it is written of Christians in 1 Corinthians, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (6:11). The Holy Spirit washes, sanctifies and justifies all Christians. Therefore, all Christians are sancti – all of us saints. And all of it, by God’s grace.


Was G.K. Chesterton a Christian? Most assuredly. Are Christians saints? Absolutely. Was Chesterton a saint? Undeniably.


So praise God for Chesterton. Praise God for all the saints. Praise Him for those who have gone on before us, who have left us strong examples of faith and courage. And praise God for all the saints still on earth, the Church on earth.


For all the saints who from their labours rest,

Who Thee, by faith, before the world, confessed

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Allelluia! Alleluia!


O blest communion, fellowship divine.

We feebly struggle; they in glory shine.

Yet all are one in Thee for all are Thine.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


William W. How, 1823-1897