Episode 30 – The Prague Manifesto of Thomas Müntzer

When Thomas Müntzer arrived in Wittenberg in early 1522, Philip Melanchthon, Andreas Karlstadt and the other reformers had no idea of the radical ideas that had come to fruition within his heart.

These ideas, which would ultimately threaten to tear Germany apart, were still hidden from the other scholars in the Wittenberg circle. But they weren’t hidden from everybody. A few months before his return to Wittenberg, Müntzer had outlined his radical theology for the believers in Prague, in a document that would be called Müntzer’s Prague Manifesto.

Müntzer hoped the manifesto would help the believers in Prague to unite against the emperor to form a new society. Instead, it only served to highlight the radical nature of Müntzer’s thinking.

Although Luther was able to calm everything down with the Invocavit Sermons in Wittenberg, there was continuing unrest throughout the rest of Germany, eventually resulting in the Peasants War.

Thomas Muntzer, c.1600 (hand coloured woodcut) by German School; Private Collection; (c.1488-1525 was a Reformation-era German theologian and Anabaptist)

Before we dive into the Peasants War, we’ll introduce Thomas Müntzer, a former Wittenberger who eventually became the leader of the peasants in the war. He was also one of Luther’s earliest supporters.

When one of Müntzer’s parishioners, Nicholas Storch, showed unusual Biblical insight, Müntzer advocated making Storch a preacher without any formal training.

The city council of Zwickau became fearful of this irregularity, they summoned Storch to be questioned. Storch fled Zwickau with two friends, Thomas Drechsel and Marcus Strübner. Strübner was a former student in Wittenberg.

Storch, Drechsel and Strübner eventually ended up in Wittenberg, staying with Andreas Karlstadt. These were the Zwickau Prophets we mentioned back in episode 27.

Karlstadt, Amsdorf and Melanchthon were impressed by the Zwickau prophets claims of special revelation. But both Amsdorf and Melanchthon disagreed with the Zwickau prophets on the rejection of infant baptism. By the time Luther had returned, Thomas Müntzer had also arrived in Wittenberg. But by March 1522, Müntzer’s teachings had changed dramatically compared with when Luther knew him as a student.

Beer break

North Peak Brewing Company – Diabolical IPA

North Peak Brewing Company is located in a historic building which was formerly the Big Daylight Candy Factory.

In March of 1899, a partnership was formed by John G. Straub, his brother, Anton F. Straub and George E. Amiotte in the creation of candies and confectionary in Traverse City.

Under the style of Straub Brothers and Amiotte, the firm soon established success with a large local following and an extensive wholesale trade. So rapidly did the business increase, that it became necessary to provide a building of sufficient capacity to meet the growing demands of the trade.

The building housing North Peak Brewing Company was Straub’s third and final building. Straub Brothers and Amiotte “Big Daylight Candy Factory” is a handsome imposing brick edifice of three floors and a basement. It was constructed with 400,000 bricks and 250,000 feet of lumber, erected and supplied with the latest and most approved machinery devices for the manufacturing of all kinds of candies. It compared favorably on a scale with the largest and most successful establishments of its kind.

Diabolical IPA

An aggressively hopped IPA, with a nice caramel sweetness. This brew features multiple hop additions (including local Cascade, Chinook & Willamette) which provide an abundance of flavor & aroma. Citrus, pine, mint, and floral notes can’t be missed while enjoying this North Peak flagship beer

Northern United Brewing Company beers, spirits and wines are made in Michigan. Using ingredients grown in Michigan.


Josh Yagley

Source materials

James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer

Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther, The Man and His Vision

Matthias Riedl – Thomas Muntzer’s Prague Manifesto – A case study in the secularization of the apocalypse.


Contact us


Let us know if you’d like to host a roadtrip or catch us on Facebook.

Would appreciate any reviews you could post on iTunes. Helps to get the word out.


Episode 28 – Return of the Reformer

Although Wittenberg was ground zero for the reform movement in the 16th century, it was still home to many priests, monks and laity who were not comfortable with the changes proposed by the reformers. When Luther was in Wittenberg, these disagreements remained within the confines of discussion and debate.

After Luther was in hiding for 6 months, things began to change. Changes in Wittenberg began to be forced upon on the priests and laity, sometimes through edict, but often through threats and even violence.

When Luther returned in the spring of 1522, he was not pleased. He sought to return things to good order, and he had to do it quickly. Just a couple of days after his arrival, Luther began a sermon series that addressed the issues that had arisen. The name of the eight sermon series is the Invocavit sermons. Given over eight days during the first week of Lent, 1522. The Invocavit sermons shaped the implementation of the reform changes in Wittenberg, and still speak to us today.

This episode looks at how the eight sermons preached by Martin Luther when he returned to Wittenberg shaped his understanding of how the gospel motivates and defines the momentum of change in church practices.

Martin Luther’s Sermon, detail from a triptych, 1547 (oil on panel) by Cranach, Lucas, the Elder (1472-1553); Church of St.Marien, Wittenberg, Germany;

Beer Break

Train Wreck – Imperial Amber Ale brewed with Michigan honey and maple syrup; 8.2% ABV. Steam Engine Stout – American stout with chocolate notes up front and a nice dry, roast finish; 6.2% ABV.

After successfully launching the Mountain Town Station Brewing Co. & Steakhouse in Mount Pleasant, MIch., the company’s beer grew in popularity. So owners Jim and Karen Holten formed a new company, Mountain Town Brewing Company, in 2007.

“I began brewing beer when I was a student at Central Michigan University,” said Holton. “I knew brewing beer was going to be a passion of mine and something consumers were going to love.”

As Holton’s craft beer grew in popularity, he and his wife Karen decided to open Mountain Town Brewing Company in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., in 2007. The two are no strangers to entrepreneurship—the brewery is their third business in the Mt. Pleasant area.

The new brewery and taproom allowed them to begin distributing beer across the state while providing locals with a place to enjoy a good beer. Today Michigan consumers can enjoy the Holton’s labor or love through their distinctive ales and lagers that include Gamblers Golden Ale, Railyard Raspberry Wheat and Cow Catcher Red Ale.

Recognitions and Sources

Episode 27 – Marriage and Monks, Communion and Chaos in Wittenberg

The ten-month (1521-1522) stay in the Wartburg castle was one of the most productive periods of Martin Luther’s life, but not all the action was in the castle outside of Eisenach. The team of theologians that Luther left back in Wittenberg were also busy during this period, but with decidedly mixed results.

Although the changes being implemented in Wittenberg were generally in line with Luther’s teachings, they were not carried out in a way that was consistent with Luther’s Evangelical theology. The individual freedom that Luther had defined in his seminal work, “The Freedom of the Christian” was pushed aside to force monks, priests and parishioners to embrace the new thinking.

Luther was not pleased, but there wasn’t much he could do except write to his colleagues to encourage them to be more gracious to those who were uncomfortable with the changes. When this didn’t work, Luther found himself in the uncomfortable position of engaging in an open disagreement with his own supporters, a precursor to the disagreements that we see amongst protestants even today.

Andreas Karlstadt

Andreas von Karlstadt

While Luther was busy at the Wartburg castle, his friends were busy making changes in Wittenberg.

The primary driver for the changes in Wittenberg was Andreas Karlstadt, the dean of the University of Wittenberg.

You may remember Karlstadt from episode 12 on the 1519 debate in Leipzig. This was where Karlstadt engaged John Eck in a debate on Luther’s teachings. He ultimately fumbled the debate so badly (possibly because his notes were ruined when his wagon lost a wheel shortly after his arrival) that Luther had to step in to debate with Eck.

The first of the changes began when three priests near Wittenberg got married in the early summer of 1521.

Luther’s thinking on vows

Luther responded by writing “Themata de Votis” (Themes Concerning Vows) in September of 1521.

These were 280 theses on vows that he was ready to debate.

Beer break

Arbor Brewing Co. – Sacred Cow IPA

DESCRIPTION Coppery-gold hue with a full floral cascade hop aroma. Rich bready malts lay a perfect foundation for the profusion of tangy, citrusy hops that infuse this beer with a distinct ruby-red grapefruit quality that starts on the palate and lingers through a long satisfying finish.

Communion in both kinds

Communion was the second major issue that Luther had to address.

Even though the real theological change in the evangelical theology was in the discussion on monasticism, it was the discussion on communion that seemed like it caused the most problems.

Luther had been talking about sharing both the bread and the wine for communion for over 2 years at this point. Still, nobody had actually shared the wine with the laity yet, so this was all talk to the common people.

In the last episode, we briefly discussed Luther’s “Sin boldly” quote during a discussion on sharing communion in both the bread and the wine with the laity. Sharing the bread and the wine would be sinning since it was disruptive to other Christians. Not sharing the bread and wine would be sinning since it would be continuing to act against Christ’s command. Luther said, go ahead, sin boldly and share the bread and the wine. Even though he wasn’t a priest, Melanchthon understood and celebrated the sacrament of communion with several students on September 29, 1521. On October 6, Gabriel Zwilling, an Augustinian brother who had a reputation for giving strong sermons, started to discourage people from attending mass if the priests refused to share the bread and the wine.

Luther’s visit

Luther decided to see how things were going for himself.

Arrived in Wittenberg on December 4, staying for 3 days in disguise as Junker Jorg.

Luther returned the Wartburg and sent out a manuscript “A sincere admonition to all Christians to guard against insurrection and rebellion” on December 14 to try to calm everything down. Regardless of the letter from Luther, things continued to escalate in Wittenberg. In mid-December, Frederick rejected a call to reform the mass by sharing the wine, stopping private masses, etc.

It was too much change at once. It also threatened the priests who still adhered to the Roman Catholic beliefs.

Andreas Karlstadt ignored Frederick’s ruling and celebrated an Evangelical worship service on Christmas, 1521. Celebrated the Lord’s Supper in German and distributed both the bread and the wine to the congregants.

Zwickau Prophets

More dangerous than the Zwickau prophets was the priest that came with them, Thomas Muntzer.

Muntzer and Karlstadt banded together to start pushing more radical reforms. Luther disagreed with the reforms. Over the next couple of months, the disagreement between Karlstadt and Luther became an open conflict.

Luther’s decision to return

Luther decided to return to Wittenberg. Frederick wanted him to stay at the Wartburg, since the political environment was not yet settled. Luther wrote back with three reasons

  • Called by the whole congregation at Wittenberg in a letter filled with urgent begging and pleading. (There is no copy of this letter, so nobody knows what was in it.)
  • Satan had intruded into his fold in Wittenberg, so he had a pastoral responsibility.
  • He feared that there was a rebellion starting. (Probably exaggerating the danger to impress the emperor.)

Luther arrived in Wittenberg on March 6, 1522.

Gave eight sermons in eight days, starting on the first Sunday in Lent, March 9.

The sermons are called the Invocavit or the Wittenberg sermons.

Recognition of source materials

  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther – Visionary Reformer
  • Bernhard Lohse – Martin Luther’s Theology: Its Historical and Systematic Development
  • Luther’s Works 44 and 45
  • Wikipedia

Episode 26 – In the Wartburg

Even though Martin Luther complained about suffering from laziness and sloth, Luther’s time in the Wartburg was one of the most productive 10 months of his life, resulting in 12 books, several sermons and devotionals. The most impressive of his accomplishments during this time wasn’t started until December 1521, when Luther kicked off a translation of the New Testament. Records indicate that he arrived in Wittenberg in March of 1522 with a completed first draft, a mere 11 weeks after he started.

Luther’s translation of the Bible has reverberated throughout history, commonizing the many dialects of medieval Germany, while also capturing the majesty of God’s Word. His translation work resulting in a frustrated compliment from Luther’s Roman Catholic adversaries “that even tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons who had accepted this new Lutheran gospel.”


After the Diet of Worms, Luther was kidnapped by friends and hidden in the Wartburg Castle, just outside the city of Eisenach. (Coincidentally, this was where Luther spent his teenage years). Although he left the castle a few times, he pretty much stayed in his room for the next 10 months.

From his personal letters, you would think this was a period of being incredibly unproductive. In July, after about 4 months in the Wartburg, Luther wrote to Melanchthon, “I should be ardent in the spirit but I am ardent in the flesh, in lust, laziness, leisure and sleepiness.”

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth – this was one of Luther’s most productive periods.

Jacob Latomus wrote an attack on Luther’s theology using biblical references. He was a professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium who was an intellectual opponent of the humanists, especially attacking Erasmus.

Luther felt he had to respond immediately, but he didn’t have a library in the Wartburg, so he had to rely on his memory of the writings of the fathers of the church.

Even without a library, Luther presented a forceful refutation in his small book, “Against Latomus”.

It really is a good summary on the central ideas of Lutheran theology.

There were also theological attacks on Luther.


Luther also dedicated a huge part of his time in the Wartburg to the question of monastic life. He had previously discussed that it wasn’t right for children to take monastic vows. Now the question was, should all the monks revoke their vows. Eventually, Luther came to the conclusion that, “Marriage is good, virginity is better, but liberty is best.” Basically stating that the monastic vow rests on the false assumption that there is a special calling for superior Christians. Luther stated that there were no “superior Christians”. Each person is called to their own tasks. The monastic vow is taken in a fit of piety which restricts our liberty to discover the tasks that God has given us.

Sin Boldly

This was also the time when Luther wrote, “sin boldly” in a private letter to Melanchthon. Even though this was a private letter, it has become one of Luther’s most famous writings since some Lutherans have taken this as a call to ignore God’s law. Significant enough that the 20th century theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, addressed its misuse in his famous chapter on “cheap grace” in his book “The Cost of Discipleship”.

“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death and the world. As long as we are in this world we have to sin. This life is not a dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.”

After reading that, some people only hear, “Sin boldly and commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day!” Becomes much more clear if we look at the context of the letter. Written to Melenchthon, who was Luther’s “right hand man”, about how to rework the Roman Catholic mass. Specifically, Luther was addressing a declaration from Karlstadt that said that it was a sin to withhold the wine from the laity. This declaration created a lot of controversy in Wittenberg. Some people agreed with Karlstadt, but some people disagreed.

Luther was telling Melanchthon, “Listen, if you change the mass, you will be sinning because you will be creating discord within the church. If you don’t change the mass, you will be sinning, because the Bible is clear that the bread and the wine should be shared with the laity. So you should go ahead and sin boldly by making the changes to align the mass with Biblical teachings. It’s the right thing to do.” Melanchthon understood and performed the first Evangelical sharing of the bread and the wine with a few students.

Beer break

Edward’s Portly Brown, American Brown Ale – IBU: 31 – ABV: 5.4 %

A malty, chocolatey and robust brown ale named after the beloved Springer Spaniel of Witch’s Hat Brewing Company.

Tasting Notes: Chocolate, sweet malt, toasted bread, light brown sugar

Food Pairings:  Sharp cheddars, dark chocolate desserts, prime rib

The name of the brewery itself comes from a South Lyon landmark: a one-hundred-year-old train depot called the Witch’s Hat after its conical design. It stands in nearby McHattie Park, where Ryan and Erin exchanged wedding vows in 2007.

“That area is kind of the downtown of South Lyon, and it obviously has a spot in our hearts,” says Ryan. “We figured what better way to showcase the town than with this name?”

Witch’s Hat has created 25 jobs and put South Lyon on the map for craft beer lovers. After 3 years, the company outgrew its original location, moving to a larger 10,000-square-foot-building that alllowed for increased seating and production.

Witch’s Hat is also committed to being a part of the community with more than $60,000 donated to local charities, including The Humane Society of Huron Valley (currently sponsors 4 cages with proceeds from Edward’s Portly Brown Ale), Gleaners Food Bank, American Cancer Society, Wigs for Kids, Blessings in a Backpack and more.

Translating the Bible

Luther is best known for his translation of the Bible while he was in the Wartburg.


What kicked off the project?

Martin Luther’s study at the Wartburg Castle

Translating the Bible was something Luther had been doing for a long time before 1522. In March of 1517, six months before the posting of the 95 theses, Luther published a translation of the seven penitential psalms. Between 1517 and 1522, he also published translations of sections of the Old and New Testament, The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, and The Magnificat.

We also know that Luther’s friends in Wittenberg, especially Melanchthon, were asking him to translate the entire Bible.

He first mentioned the project in a personal note to John Lang in December of 1521, only three months before he permanently left the Wartburg.

Probably came up in a discussion with Melanchthon during a stealth visit to Wittenberg in early December, 1521.

Luther didn’t complete the entire Bible in the Wartburg, only the New Testament (which is still remarkable, given that he completed the first draft in 11 weeks).

The full Bible wasn’t completed until 1534. Although Luther completed the first version in the Wartburg, it was a pretty rough draft. After he returned to Wittenberg, he worked very closely with Melanchthon and other scholars who could provide greater expertise. For example, Melanchthon was a much better Greek scholar and Bugenhagen was an expert in the Latin found in the Vulgate. The entire group was called the Bible Club (Collegium Biblieum).

Other notable members of the Bible Club were: Justus Jonas, Bugenhagen (Pommer), Cruciger, Aurogallus and Georg Rorer (who was the 1st clergyman ordained by Luther).

This core group would then go outside for special experts and others for help. For example, Spalatin provided the names of the precious stones in New Jerusalem.

It took a few months for the Bible club to get out the final version of the New Testament. It was released in September 1522.

As English speakers, it’s difficult to understand the importance of the Luther Bible. Even though several dukes tried to outlaw the Bible, they were unsuccessful in stopping the spread of the gospel. A Roman Catholic scholar of the time complained:

“Luther’s New Testament was so much multiplied and spread by printers that even tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons who had accepted this new Lutheran gospel, and could read a little German, studied it with the greatest avidity as the fountain of all truth. Some committed it to memory, and carried it about in their bosom. In a few months such people deemed themselves so learned that they were not ashamed to dispute about faith and the gospel not only with Catholic laymen, but even with priests and monks and doctors of divinity.”

Even though it’s difficult for us English speakers to appreciate the Luther Bible, there are some things that are extremely helpful to us. Luther wrote an introduction to each book of the New Testament. Even today, these are extremely helpful for us as we read through the Bible.

While Luther was working diligently in the Wartburg, the scholars in Wittenberg were making major changes, eventually resulting in riots. To calm things down, Luther left the safety of the Wartburg.

We’ll be covering the events in Wittenberg, along with Luther’s return, in our next episode.


  • Thanks to Josh Yagley
  • Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI

Source materials

  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther – Visionary Reformer
  • Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church Volume 7
  • Luther’s Works – volumes 35 (For the prefaces to the books of the NT)
  • Wikipedia

Would appreciate any reviews you could post on iTunes. Helps to get the word out.

Episode 25 – Off to the Wartburg

Martin Luther was cut to the core when he read the words of the young emperor Charles who wrote, “A single friar who goes counter to all Christianity for a thousand years must be wrong.” Luther couldn’t help but wonder, could the emperor be right?

Now that he was safely ensconced in the Wartburg castle, Luther was free from the day-to-day challenges that consumed his attention as the accidently spark of the Reformation. He could finally stop and deeply consider the words of the emperor. Was Luther the only person in a thousand years who could rightly read the Bible?

As he always did, Luther sought his answers in Scripture, eventually settling on an unexpected reading to evaluate his leadership and ambition, and the leadership and ambition of the pope – the song of Mary, the mother of Christ – the Magnificat. In this episode we discuss both the way that Martin Luther arrived at the Wartburg and how the Magnificat provided a lens through which he could understand his path forward, as a servant of Christ, during a time of discord.

When Luther left the city of Worms with Jerome Schurf and Nicolaus von Amsdorf on April 26, 1521, he only had 21 days of promised safe conduct from the emperor. Once the safe conduct expired, anybody could kill Luther as an outlaw.

As part of the safe conduct, the emperor provided a small troop to travel with Luther to make sure nobody hurt him. Luther released them after a couple days, so they returned to Worms with letters from Luther to the emperor and to Spalatin (supposedly also for Frederick) where he explained his actions at Worms.

Luther was told that the safe conduct was only in effect if he did “not stir up the people either by teaching or writing.” Luther tried to listen, but he was compelled by the people in Hersfeld, Eisenach, and Mohra to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jerome Schurf left the group right after they left Eisenach to continue to Wittenberg, leaving Amsdorf and Luther with the driver of the wagon. Luther and Amsdorf decided to travel south, away from Wittenberg to visit Mohra, the city where Luther’s father had grown up. Shortly after they left Mohra, Luther was kidnapped in the Thuringen forest, not far from the Altenstein castle.

A group of armed men on horses came out of the forest and stopped the small traveling party. The driver was terrified. When the armed men asked if one of them was Luther, the driver pointed to Luther immediately. The armed men were two nobles, the castellan of the Wartburg, Hans von Berlepsch, and the resident lord of Altenstein. The armed men took Luther and rode off into the woods. They took Luther to the Wartburg castle, which was owned by Frederick the Wise.

Stop motion animation that uses Playmobil to tell the story of Martin Luther, and the Reformation. gochattervideos.com/martin-luther

The way the kidnapping was orchestrated in such a way that even Frederick could honestly say he had no idea where Luther was hiding. Luther’s stay in the Wartburg Castle began in May 1521. (Coincidentally, the Wartburg overlooked the city of Eisenach where Luther spent his teenage years.) Although he left the castle a few times, he mostly stayed in his room for the next 10 months.

Beer Break

Black Lotus Brewing Co., 1 East 14 Mile Road Clawson, MI 48017-2132.

Detroit Hip Hops X IPA – American 10% ABV

This is their 10 year anniversary edition of their double IPA. Its a high gravity IPA with notes of citrus and pine and compliments food and conversation extremely well. Put on some vinyl pour a glass and explore the flavor of sound.


  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther – Visionary Reformer
  • Roland Bainton – Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther
  • Luther’s Works – volumes 21
  • Wikipedia


Episode 24 – Diet of Worms Part 3

Martin Luther had decided to accept the invitation to the Diet in the city of Worms, Germany, even though he knew there was a very good chance he was going to his death. The pope, who was one of the most powerful people in the world, was clearly aligned against him. And, to make matters worse, the emperor was starting to agree with the papal position.

Even though Luther’s appearance at the Diet was supposed to be a sidebar discussion, everybody knew that the discussion at Worms was going to be a decisive turning point in what to do with Luther and his reforms. The pope and the emperor would only accept a recantation of his teachings. Meanwhile, Luther had made clear many times that he would only accept a hearing based on Scripture. Something had to give.

In this episode we discuss Luther’s speech at the Diet of Worms and the days after his speech. The condensed history of the Diet of Worms is that Martin Luther made his speech, left the city, and then he was “kidnapped” to the Warburg on his way home. In fact, Luther did not immediately leave the city. There were a series of negotiations to determine if anything could be recovered from this situation.

In Wittenberg, this summer, they sold the socks that Martin Luther was likely wearing during the Diet of Worms. In case he forgot his speech, he could look at his ankles.

Beer Break

Eternity Brewing is a microbrewery and taproom in Howell, Michigan. They create handcrafted beers in small batches. The owners are Mike and Dayna Tran. The beer we try in this episode is the Aerial Ace, which is a cream ale. It is dry-hopped with Sorachi Ace from Belleville Hops. The cream ale has a bright lemon aroma and smooth flavor with notes of lemon, dill, and grain.

Episode 23 – Martin Luther’s Reformation of Hymnody and Liturgy

When Martin Luther first posted the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, he was driven by a deep concern for his congregation. This continued to be the primary driver of everything he did for his entire career as a reformer.

Luther’s concern for his congregation was expressed in many ways. He wrote sermons for his own congregation; he wrote guidelines for sermons for other pastors; he wrote devotionals.  Even when he wrote a theological treatise, his mind wasn’t ever very far from the regular-folk and what this would mean for them.

In this episode we look at how Luther used music.  In churchy terms, we call this Luther’s hymnody, the body of music that was written by Luther to communicate proper theology to the congregation.

This episode is released on Oct 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses. Happy Reformation Day, everyone!

Tower of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

We’re taking a break from Luther’s story at the Diet of Worms. Instead, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses, we’re going to focus this episode on the single subject that animated everything that Luther did in his struggles with the medieval Catholic Church – the congregation.

To tackle the entire issue of Luther’s concern for the congregation is too much for one episode, so we’re going to limit ourselves to Luther’s hymns, which were one of his favorite ways to communicate his theology to the common folk.

Neither of us really know much about music, so we’ve invited Chris Mowers, one of our congregation’s music experts at St. Paul Lutheran Church, to help us out.

Beer break!

Stan Bucrek, a member of St. Paul, provided the beer for our break. We asked Chris Mowers and Stan to help with this episode as a demonstration that Luther’s reforms of hymnody and liturgy were done with the congregation in mind.

The Pale Ale is
(Modified)  Cornerstone India Pale Ale:
ABV: 6.56%
Magnum, Amarillo,  Centennial and Cascade hops-
Was supposed to be an IPA, but the secondary hop addition was reduced to let malt not be overwhelmed by hops [I dislike it when the beer tastes like prairie grass]. Well balanced flavor and bite, with a well sustained head when poured.
Original Recipe from: AIH (Adventures in Home-Brewing) Ann Arbor, MI.

Fire Island Scotch Ale:
ABV: 5.51%
(Not related to New York’s Fire Island Brewing Co.)
Crystal and Chocolate malts, brown sugar &  Kent Golding hops –
Smooth, sweet and drinkable – A fall/winterish Ale with pleasant hints/notes resembling Scotch Whiskey sans actually barrel aging the beer.

Recipe from: James C. Whitely, Arbor Beer-making Supplies, East Islip, New York.

Both beers are brewed in 5 gallon batches and bottle aged.
The Pale Ale is from June of this year and the Scotch Ale was brewed in March.

Episode 21 – The Diet of Worms Part 1

Charles V of Spain was on a very steep learning curve. Even though he was only 20 years old, he had just been voted as the new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Including his governance of Spain, he now had the responsibilities for a vast domain that included modern day Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and South America.

Charles had prepared for these responsibilities for his entire life, so he felt in 1521 as ready as he could have been as he approached his first major meeting with the leaders of the Empire, set for the city of Worms, in the Rhineland of Germany. Still, he knew the princes, electors, dukes and other leaders of the would be watching him closely for any missteps as he sought to guide the empire through the treacherous terrain of medieval European politics.

Treacherous barely describes the complexity of the situation Charles had inherited from his grandfather. The pope was no friend, having done everything in his power to deny Charles the position of Emperor. The German princes were fractious and squabbling, even while the Turks were threatening the eastern edges of the empire. And in his own Spain, the commoners were rising up in revolt against the nobility.

Finally, there was this matter regarding the German monk, Dr. Martin Luther. Although Luther’s teachings were popular with the people, Charles was confident everybody would fall in line behind the pope declaring Luther a heretic. Still, to calm the leadership of the German states, and to get them to finally work together against the Turks, Charles on November 28, 1520 agreed that Luther would be given a hearing at the Diet scheduled to be held in the city of Worms in early 1521.

The Diet of Worms will be dealt with through three parts. The word diet describes an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire. The first part looks at the lead up to the hearing in Worms. We especially focus on why a monk that has already been declared a heretic by the pope is being given a hearing in Germany. The second part will look at the hearing itself and Luther’s famous speech before the emperor. The final part will examine what happens after the hearing is over and how Luther is “kidnapped” and taken to the Wartburg.

Luther at the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner, 1877

Beer Break

Our featured beer in this episode is from Perrin Brewing in Comstock Park, Michigan. The No Problems Session IPA bursts open with aromatics of fresh citrus fruits, ripened melon and a distinctive floral bouquet.

Diet of Worms by Swashbookler


Thanks to Josh Yagley for the sound engineering

James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer

Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther – Visionary Reformer

Roland Bainton – Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther

Luther’s Works – volumes 32


Freedom of a Christian – Episode 19

Karl von Miltitz wasn’t somebody who would easily give up. As the pope’s ambassador in the Lutheran controversy, he felt had the authority to make a difference in the ongoing theological issues stirring up Germany.

Miltitz was a little more humble about his capabilities in 1520, compared to when he first became enmeshed in the Lutheran dispute a year before. Back in the beginning, he thought he could tamp down all the issues by simply encouraging everybody to calm down. Now he realized that the theological differences were deeper than he first believed.

Now that he had an improved understanding, Miltitz adjusted his goals. He knew he was going to need to get a dialogue started between the pope and Luther. He knew there was no way the pope was going to extend an olive branch to Luther, but maybe he could get Luther to reach out to the pope. It was a long shot, but it was the only way out.

Karl von Miltitz had no way of knowing that he was initiating the writing of one of the greatest summaries of Evangelical theology, the Freedom of a Christian.

Freedom of a Christian was Luther’s response to his critics that his doctrine of freedom would create chaos. It’s built around two seemingly contradictory propositions from St. Paul:

  •  A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
  •  A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.

Beer Break

Bam Biere by Jolly Pumpkin. It is named after Bam, the tenacious brewery dog.

This delicious farmhouse ale is named for their Jack Russell, who struck by a car, bounced back in fine tenacious Jack Russell fashion. This farmhouse ale is brewed for those of us who knocked down, have picked up, dusted off, and carried on undaunted.

Golden naturally cloudy, bottle conditioned and dry hopped for a perfectly refreshing balance of spicy malts, hops, and yeast.

Resources and Recognitions

A blog post by by Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mumme, https://lutheranreformation.org/theology/christian-freedom/

Thanks to Josh

Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI

James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer

Luther’s Works – volumes 31

Contact us


Let us know if you’d like to host a roadtrip.

Episode 18 – Babylonian Captivity Part 2

Episode 18 – Babylonian Captivity 2

In December of 1519, Martin Luther first trained his sights on redefining the sacraments in a series of sermons and treatise he wrote to help the common people better understand how faith works in the church.

Duke George best reflected the feeling of the supporters of the papal position when he called Luther’s writings scandalous and heretical.

But Luther wasn’t finished, in the fall of 1520, he released the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, a thorough attack on the church’s teachings on the 7 sacraments. In 1519, Luther limited himself to just baptism and communion. In 1520, he redefined every one of the sacraments. In the last episode, we covered Luther’s treatment of communion. Today, we’ll cover the other 6 sacraments.

Beer Break

Mad Hatter Midwest India Pale Ale by New Holland Brewery 

New Holland Brewing Company’s deep roots in the craft industry go back to 1997. Their role as an integral member of the artisan approach is something they take seriously, yet engage lightheartedly.

New Holland Brewing believes the art of craft lives in fostering rich experiences for their customers, through creating authentic beer, spirits and food while providing great service. Recognized for their creativity and artistry, New Holland’s mission to improve the lives of craft consumers everywhere is seen in their diverse, balanced collection of beer and spirits.



Episode 15 – Open Letter to the Christian Nobility Part One

In 1520 Martin Luther addressed the Christian nobility in Germany to give them encouragement in their role as supporters of the gospel. Martin Luther attacked three walls the pope had erected around Scripture. These walls were designed to intimidate the secular people from speaking up. If these walls could be torn down, then the Word of God would be more clearly shared in Germany.

The first wall is the notion that the spiritual power of the pope is above the temporal power of magistrates. This would prevent the magistrates, or local leaders, from instituting reform. This wall also established that the moral authority of the church silences the temporal leaders from having a voice.

When Luther knocks down this wall, he places a voice in the church in the hands of people other than the professionals. Giving a moral voice to people other than the clergy is possible because we all have the same standing before God by virtue of our baptism. Luther wrote, “For whoever comes out of the water of baptism can boast that he is already consecrated priest, bishop, and pope, although of course it is not seems that just anybody should exercise such office.”

This episode largely deals with introducing this letter from Luther and discussing the implications of knocking down the first wall. In episode 16, we will discuss the other two walls of the letter. The second wall was that interpretation of Scripture belongs to the pope and the professionals. The third wall was that only the pope can call a council that would deal with possible reforms in the church.

Luther knocked down these walls as artificial barriers to the priesthood of believers participating in the promises of God.

Where does the Roman Catholic Church stand today? The catholic church is full of very fine distinctions. It is important here to note that Rome has moved very close to Luther on the equality of all Christians. The catholic catechism, starting at section 897, states that the laity are, “the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.”

Beer Break

Liberty Street Brewing Company, Plymouth, Michigan

Liberty Street Brewing began in 2006. They provide a large assortment of crafted, small batch ales and lagers through an exceptionally service oriented waitstaff.


Recognition of source materials

  •  Wikipedia
  •  Elsie Singmaster, Martin Luther – the story of his life
  •  Hannah S. Bowers – Coffeeshopthinking.wordpress.com
  •  Vatican website where they have the official Roman Catholic teaching on the role of the laity and the role of the priesthood.

Contact us

We would appreciate any reviews you could post on iTunes because these reviews help increase the visibility of our podcast.

Episode 14 – A Wild Boar in the Vineyard

This episode focuses on Exsurge Domine, the official papal response to Martin Luther. With the printing presses of Europe hard at work in the fall of 1517, the 95 Theses spread throughout Europe in a couple of weeks. Attention was drawn to the leadership of the church in Rome. In 1518 Cardinal Cajetan visited Luther in Augsburg, and Cajetan attempted to get Luther to recant. In the summer of 1519, John Eck debated Luther in Leipzig. Eck succeeded in getting Luther to admit that the issue was about more than reforming abuses. Luther admitted that the pope and a council could be wrong if they conflicted with Scripture.

In June of 1520, the pope signed Exsurge Domine, the papal bull that formally outlined Martin Luther’s errors. Cardinal Cajetan wanted a scholarly response to Luther that specifically outlined the errors of Luther. Eck wanted a response that was released quickly to address the issue of Luther before things got worse in Germany. Eck won and the papal bull lacks specifics against Luther but clearly labels him as a heretic dangerous to the church.

Exsurge Domine is a papal bull promulgated on 15 June 1520 by Pope Leo X. It was written in response to the teachings of Martin Luther which opposed the views of the Church.

The name of this document comes from the first phrase in Latin, “Arise, O Lord!” It goes on to say that the wild board from the forest seeks to destroy the Lord’s vineyard and it is time to put down the boar.

Lucas Cranach included in the altar piece he painted for the Town Church in Wittenberg a picture of Martin Luther preaching from a pulpit that is decorated with a wild boar running through a vineyard.

Martin Luther’s Sermon, detail from a triptych, 1547 (oil on panel) by Cranach, Lucas, the Elder (1472-1553); Church of St. Marien, Wittenberg, Germany.

Beer Break

We set aside our walk through beers from the Great Lakes region because we have found we have a consistent set of listeners from Japan. So this beer break features a beer form the Kiuchi Brewery. The beginning of this brewery is found when it was established in 1823 by Kiuchi Gihei, the headman of Kounosu village. The beer side of the business started in 1996 and named the beer “Hitachino Next Beer.” It has a unique owl character logo. This beer is a German style Hefe Weizen with banana, clove, and vanilla like flavors with a touch of toasty wheat malt and hops.

Recognitions and Thanks

  •  Thanks to Josh
  •  Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg Michigan
  •  Wikipedia
  •  John M. Todd book Martin Luther, a biographical study
  •  Hans Hillerbrand – several documents
  •  Catholic.com: A Catholic website set up to defend the Roman Catholic faith against protestant attacks.
  • Good place for us to make sure we are not mischaracterizing Catholic teaching, although we would welcome anybody shooting us an email with any corrections on our understanding of Roman Catholic doctrine.
  •  Vatican for a copy of Exsurge Domine

Contact Us

We would appreciate any reviews you could post on itunes. The reviews help us to get the word out.


Episode 12 – The Leipzig Debate

Turning Point

John Eck and Martin Luther met for a debate in Leipzig in 1519. This debate was a major turning point for the Reformation. This debate pushed Luther beyond the question of reforming indulgences towards the question of authority in the church.

John Eck was a scholastic theologian teaching at Inglostadt. Martin Luther was a professor from Wittenberg. These two men meet for the rumble in Leipzig. Two men enter, one man leaves (actually both left alive, MMA was not in play at this time).

In the fall of 1518, Cardinal Cajetan had his fatherly talk with Luther. Luther refused to recant or return to Rome for trial. Then Karl von Miltitz visited Luther, and Miltitz made a deal with him. Luther would remain quiet as long as his adversaries remained quiet, which brings us to this podcast episode of Grace on Tap.

John Eck corresponded with Luther through a document titled, Obelisks. After Eck released the Obelisks, Luther replied with something called Asterisks. These two terms refer to different type of margin notes that people would put in their books to mark areas of interest. Andreas Karlstadt didn’t want to be left out of the party. He also responded with The 370 Theses.

So let’s get ready to rumble.

On June 24, 1519, the Wittenbergers arrived in Leipzig. There was a pause at the entrance to the city because there were questions about whether their passports would be received. The fact that the Wittenberg delegation arrived as a raucous group of students and professors might have given the city some worry about their ability to keep the peace.

The debate became a turning point in the Reformation because Eck was able to draw Martin Luther into a debate on the question of papal authority. This debate publicly pushed Luther beyond the indulgence controversy, which was seen by many as a suitable topic for reform.

The Leipzig Disputation – 1519 – Carl Lessing

Listen to this podcast and discover how the Leipzig debate helped focus the discussion on authority in the church, the Word of God or the pope.

Beer Break

Our featured beer in this episode is The Live Wire from the ROAK. This is an American IPA from a brewery in Royal Oak, Michigan. It is a juicy beer with classic hoppy bitterness and little malt sweetness.


  • Thanks to Josh Yagley for his sound engineering
  • Thanks to the people at St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI who provide us the encouragement and support to continue recording these podcast episodes

Recognition of source materials

  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • David Whitford – Luther: A Guide for the Perplexed
  • WHT Dau – The Leipzig Debate in 1519
  • Sean Doherty – “Theology and Economic Ethics: Martin Luther and Arthur Rich in Dialogue”
  • Encyclopedia Britannica

Contact us

Come on out to our upcoming Road Trip in Clinton Twp on June 7. Details can be found on our Facebook page.

This post has been updated with an audio file that starts at the beginning.

Episode 11 – Election Capitulation

On January 12, 1519, Maximillian, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, died at Wels in Upper Austria. The election that took place on June 28 in Frankfurt was a hotly contested election. The two main contenders were Charles, grandson of Maximillian, and Francis I, the King of France. After a series of bribes and promises, the election swings towards Charles.

Charles V signed a document that was critical to the Reformation that is typically overlooked by Lutherans. The Election Capitulation was negotiated by Frederick the Wise who was supporting Martin Luther. So listen to this podcast to learn about some political processes that helped define the Reformation period.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Beer Break

Rochester Mills Brewing Co.

Milkshake Stout, a property of 7 malts, along with a low hop level that creates a dark beer featuring rich, sweet, roasted flavors.


  • Thanks to Josh Yagley for sound engineering
  • Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI

Recognition of source materials

  • David Whitford – Luther: A Guide for the Perplexed
  • Charles Beard – Martin Luther and the Reformation in Germany Until the Close of the Diet of Worms
  • Daniel J. Castellano – Repository of Arcane Knowledge
  • Erwin Iserloh, Joseph Glazik, and Hubert Jedin – History of the Church: Reformation and Counter Reformation
  • Henry Eyster Jacobs – Martin Luther: The Hero of the Reformation
  • Wikipedia articles

Episode 10 – Mr. Miltitz Goes to Germany

Karl von Miltitz was sent from Rome to Germany in the fall of 1518. He was a papal nuncio, which is the title for an ecclesiastical diplomat. His job was to improve the conflict with Luther. He expected to be a part of the negotiating team with Cardinal Cajetan. The timing of their arrivals in Germany meant they worked separate from each other. Maybe he expected this was going to be a good cop / bad cop sort of relationship. Cardinal Cajetan would be the bad cop and Miltitz would be the good cop. He was supposed to relieve the tensions in the international relationship between Rome and Frederick the Wise that had developed during the controversy over indulgences.

In this episode Mike Yagley and Evan Gaertner discuss the role of Miltitz to settle the dispute between Martin Luther and the sale of indulgences. Luther and Miltitz met in Altenburg in January, 1519.

Pope Leo gave Frederick the Wise the “Golden Rose,” a honorary gift and sign of favor from Rome.

Beer Break Information

This episode we feature the Keweenaw Brewing Company and their Red Jacket Amber Ale. KBC is a microbrewery with no food served at their taproom. This Amber Ale is a class Oktoberfest style ale that is brewed in tribute to the Red Jacket Mine and copper industry glory days of the Keweenaw Pennisula.

Luther’s View of the 10 Commandments

Mike and Evan have a discussion after the beer break about how Luther’s view of the law changes along with his changed view of Romans 1:17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel… for in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

How do we look at how the righteous shall live by faith?

Heads up that this second half of the episode might require a few rewinds to capture. Some people may only listen to the history stuff of the first half and call it good enough (which is okay). We won’t track you down and make you listen to all the second half.

Recognition of Source Materials

    • David Whitford – Luther: A Guide for the Perplexed
    • James Kittelson – Luther the reformer
    • LW 34 and 48
    • Catholic Encyclopedia
    • Luther’s large catechism
    • encyclopedia.com
    • reformation500.csl.edu

Episode 8 – Power struggles between Church, Society, and Family

This episode is our attempt to lay the ground work for why Martin Luther could stand up to both the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the pope and not be immediately be struck down.

It is 1519, and Luther has written the 95 Theses, participated in the Heidelberg Disputation, and talked to Cardinal Cajetan in Augsburg.


  • After things went so poorly in Augsburg, Luther snuck out of town early in the morning, leaving a note for Cardinal Cajetan bidding him farewell.
  • Frederick the Wise continued the negotiations on Luther’s behalf with Cajetan.
  • Luther returned to Wittenberg and wrote his account of the proceedings there.
  • Luther has completed the first stage of mapping out what it means for Catholic theology to have been saved by grace and not works. This work will continue as he is asked again later to answer to the Catholic leadership in Leipzig but, for now, he has a little break from that battle.

How did the investiture controversy lay the ground work for a small town friar in Germany to lead a revolution of power that is built on the truth of God’s Word?

The investiture controversy was an important conflict between the religious and secular powers in medieval Europe. The dispute developed in the 11th century  concerning who had the authority to appoint bishops.

Martin Luther pastorally cares about the vocation that all people have in their callings in the church, state, and the family. The balance he sought for these powers is built on his desire that we use our gifts to serve others instead of seeking people to serve us.

Gregory VII lays a ban of excommunication on the clergy loyal to King Henry IV; drawing from the …
Leonard von Matt/EB Inc.

Beer Break

Huma Lupa Licious from Short’s Brewing Company. This is an India Pale Ale that is brewed with five different kinds of hops.


Episode 4 – Grace on Tap – Background to the Heidelberg Disputation

This episode of Grace on Tap is the build-up to our discussion on the Heidelberg Disputation, where Martin Luther first defined his Theology of the Cross.

The Theology of the Cross captures Luther’s ideas on sin, God’s grace and human suffering. Sadly, Luther’s ideas on the meaning of suffering remain an overlooked component of Christian theology, even in Lutheran circles.

If you have an interest in theology, we think you’ll like these next couple episodes.

The Heidelberg Disputation was a debate that took placed at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Augustinian order in April 1518.

Johann von Staupitz, engraving from 1889

Johann von Staupitz had only one request for Martin Luther, don’t discuss anything controversial. Staupitz limited the debate to sin, free will, and grace. Don’t know why he didn’t think these topics would be controversial.

Staupitz and Luther first met in Erfurt in 1506 as Luther’s Augustinian Superior. They had a deep relationship rooted in shared experiences with sin and seeking the comfort of God’s grace.

Thanks to Josh Yagley for sound engineering. Thank you Maria for helping Mike with the research. Thank you to St. Paul in Hamburg for providing us the opportunity to meet and discuss the Reformation.

Resources helpful to us in this episode include Luther’s Works volume 31 in the American Edition available from cph.org. We also were aided by Kurt Aland’s book on the 95 Theses. Luther’s correspondence and other letters (Letter 57. Wikipedia had a helpful article eon Martin Bucer.

The featured beer in this episode is from Atwater Brewery in Detroit. The Hop-a-Peel. It is an American Double/Imperial IPA. This is a solid beer with a subtle orange peel flavor. The aroma is ready and sweet. The beer is bitter that helps the subtle flavor of the orange not overwhelm the whole beer.

Episode 3 – Grace on Tap – Sermon on Indulgence and Grace

This episode looks at a sermon from the spring of 1518 that Martin Luther wrote and shared with the German people to explain the controversy on indulgences and why the grace of God is our confidence.

Published copy of Luther’s “Sermon on Indulgence and Grace” from 1518. From the Taylor Institution Library, Oxford

The featured beer for this episode is Founders All Day IPA. This is a session beer, which means that its alcohol content is lower and so appropriate for drinking over an extended period.