Martin Luther’s Umbrella, A Good Place for Reformation Studies

In 1536, Martin Luther published his Disputation Concerning Justification, a series of statements concerning Romans 3:28:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

From Luther’s Disputation, one passage he uses to describe the beauty of the believer’s standing before God lingers in my mind: a simple image of an umbrella.

In this one image, Luther conveys imputation, propitiation, and substitution. All fifty-dollar theological terms to be sure, but truly priceless biblical truths that give hope both those in Christ and those still outside of Christ.

Here is Luther:

Moreover, God forgives and is merciful to us because Christ, our advocate and priest, intercedes and sanctifies our beginning in righteousness. His righteousness, since it is without defect and serves us like an umbrella against the heat of God’s wrath, does not allow our beginning righteousness to be condemned. (LW 34:153).

What joy to know and have access to Martin Luther’s umbrella.

At Midwestern Seminary this fall, Matthew Barrett and I will offer again The Reformation PhD Seminar. The seminar starts August 31 and will meet for a week-long sessions during October 26-30.

For the students already enrolled we recently made the syllabus available and we wanted also to make it available here as well so any other interested students can view it and see if they would like to enroll as well prior to the start of the seminar on August 31.

We’ve offered this seminar several times at Midwestern and typically attempt to cover the entire Reformation Era in broad strokes with focused primary source readings from the major figures.

However, this time, the big take away is that we are structuring this offering of the Reformation Seminar to focus deeply on Martin Luther!

We will still give time and discussion to the Reformation movements more broadly at points, but we’ve decided to give dedicated focus to the life and thought of Luther himself to allow PhD students the opportunity to read as much Luther as possible and grow in their knowledge of the Reformation as a result.

To put it another way, this fall we will follow Martin Luther and gather together to read and discuss his works under the merciful shade provided by his glorious Umbrella.

If you are a PhD student or considering starting your PhD studies, we’d love to have you join us. You can learn more about the Midwestern PhD program here.