Martin Luther on Trial


Any actors among my readers? If so, any of you ever itched to play Satan, Hitler, or Johann Tetzel? How about the greater Reformer Martin Luther? Or his wife, perhaps? A call went out a couple of weeks ago: auditions for a new play starring Max McLean called The Trial of Martin Luther. It’s being staged by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts.

My friend John W. Kennedy has an interview with McClean (whose voice you will hear when you play Bible Gateway’s audio scripture of the day).

MAX McCLEAN: Fellowship for Performing Art’s mission is to produce theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience.  We do that by carefully selecting material that, we think, has the ability to reach across the cultural spectrum. Then we execute it to the highest levels that our budgets can afford. Finally we ask people to help us do it.  That’s why we are called Fellowship for Performing Arts. It’s a fellowship of people who believe that art and theatre from a Christian worldview can engage the moral imagination.

As to FPA’s beginning, I was already a theatre artist before I converted to Christianity.  My imagination was captured.  I wanted to know more of it and see if I could integrate my faith into my work.  In order to do that at the level of excellence I wanted, I had to raise funds.  So we incorporated as a non-profit theater company. …

JWK: In February, you’re presenting an original production called Martin Luther on Trial, which you wrote with Chris Cragin-Day. Can you tell me something about that and the point of view it takes on Martin Luther?

MM: Martin Luther on Trial examines Luther’s legacy in the light of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Lucifer is the prosecuting attorney, Luther’s wife Kate acts for the defense, St. Peter is on the bench. The called witnesses are Hitler, Freud, Hans Luther, Rabbi Yosel and Martin Luther King, Jr. We have Pope Francis making an appearance in our play.  It’s a risky endeavor but we have a development process of readings, labs, workshops to make sure it is ready.This will be a development production.  It will not be open for review.  We plan to bring it back in the fall.

My reason for commissioning this play is to look at the inherent scandal of a divided Christianity. All Christians should be humble and charitable about the events that led to the Protestant Reformation or Revolt (depending on your point of view). If we can’t humble ourselves who can? Theatre is a good place for an audience of Protestants, Catholics and those of other beliefs to explore and dialogue about this controversial subject.

McLean was a member of Redeemer Presbyterian when I was a member there, and often would deliver the Scripture readings in his mellifluous baritone. My wife and I saw The Screwtape Letters with McLean Off-Broadway (tickets were a birthday gift from JWK, as it so happens); he’s an enormously talented and spirited actor.

By the by, how many of you know that Luther actually wrote Tetzel post-1517, after the indulgence peddler had been thrown under the bus by the public and ecclesiastical higher-ups? Want to know what Brother Martin said to the man who became the poster-child for works-righteousness?


In short, “Grace to you.”


Luther to Enter Rome, Again


Oh, sure, now

Next month a hilltop square in Rome is due to be named Piazza Martin Lutero, in memory of Luther’s achievements. The site chosen is the Oppian Hill, a park area that overlooks the Colosseum.

The move has been six years in a making, following a request made by the Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant denomination, Italian daily La Repubblica said. The original plan was to inaugurate the square in time for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s historic trip to Rome in 2010. City officials were not able to discuss the process behind naming the square or the reason for the holdup.

Despite Luther being thrown out of the Catholic Church during his lifetime, the Vatican reacted positively to news of the square’s upcoming inauguration. “It’s a decision taken by Rome city hall which is favorable to Catholics in that it’s in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council,” said the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Vatican press office, referring to a gathering of churchmen to rule on faith matters.

The move contrasts sharply from views held by Luther around the time of his visit to Rome, when it was said he repeated the saying“If there is a hell, Rome is built over it.”

I’m sure he was not speaking literally, as in a historical-grammatical sense, but more in the “Where is my damn espresso?” sense… Continue reading “Luther to Enter Rome, Again”

Who Can Forgive Whose Sins?


So I logged on to the Mockingbird blog today and went searching for audio from their annual NYC Conference, seeing as it featured this year a Lutherany Presbyterian (Tullian Tchividjian) and a mainliny Lutheran (Nadia Bolz-Weber), which I thought would yield some interesting MP4age. The Mockingbirders are themselves low-churchy Anglicany Episcs,* as opposed to mainliny Episcs or Anglo-Catholicy Episcs, or for that matter continuing Anglicans, who can also be broken down into those who follow the “Affirmation of St. Louis” and Sydney Anglicans and evangelical Anglicans. A chart will be forthcoming to help with these distinctions but don’t expect it anytime soon because who has that kind of time.

I listened to this clip of the talk given by Bolz-Weber. It’s three minutes long, so put down the sausage and focus. Continue reading “Who Can Forgive Whose Sins?”