Why Martin Luther's Preaching Was So Offensive

Unabashed Proclamation

We know quite a bit about Martin Luther's preaching style because as soon as the Reformation began in 1517, he became the most famous man in Europe. People from all over Europe travelled to Wittenberg to hear or see him. He was an attraction. His sermons were written down and published. They were lively. As I preach every Sunday, I try to learn from him, and I think others should, too. His sermons were never boring.

He spoke to the people directly. He knew their situation. His sermons were direct exegesis of Scripture, in which the message of the crucified Christ surfaced whether or not it fit into the text. He had a very special homoletic style.

He dared to speak out to people. If he thought things were wrong, that teachers' wages were too low, he would speak out on behalf of them, saying: Pay the teachers well because the work they do is important. They educate our children. He spoke to parents, he spoke to people who did not live a Christian life. Why do you sit here? You're not a Christian at all.

Martin Luther

Herman Selderhuis

This biography follows Martin Luther on his spiritual journey, revealing his dynamic personality, deep struggles, and durable faith—presenting him first and foremost as a man searching for God.

He was what we would call offensive, very direct. I didn't know that before, but I discovered the fact while working on this book. At one time, he went on strike as a preacher. He said, I'm fed up with preaching because you don't do what I say anyways, so I won't preach here anymore.

If all preachers who noticed that their congregation wasn’t obeying their teaching were to go on strike, next Sunday, there would be no preaching anywhere in the world. But Luther wouldn’t accept an obstinate people, and yet, they accepted him. It's very interesting to read his sermons, but it's also very nourishing to read his sermons. He brings us right into the heart of the matter.

Related Articles

Related Resources

Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at crossway.org/about.