Martin and Philip
and Martin enter from the narthex, walking down the center aisle,
arguing with each other. By
about the fourth exchange, they are standing in the chancel for the
remainder of the play. They
are both carrying large, old books which are placed on the
altar/table. In this
play, especially at the beginning, Martin Luther’s personality is
to be passionate and polemical.
Philip Melanchthon, on the other hand, is cool and cerebral).
Martin. You don’t
want to do that, Martin.
We are going to do it.
You are going to get us in trouble again. You are always getting us into trouble.
Philip, at the core of your personality, you
are basically fainthearted…fearful, in fact, somewhat
Martin, I am not gutless.
I am just not you. I
do things differently than you do.
I think through
things carefully. I put
things down coherently on paper.
I discuss them like mature adults.
You think timidly.
You talk timidly. You
write timidly. You
never say anything that ruffles
anybody’s feathers. This
is no time for timidity.
Martin, you are just like a wild boar in the
vineyard. You go in and
rip everything up. You
make a mess out of everything, Martin.
I am not like a wild boar in the vineyard,
ripping everything up. All
I know is that the Pope is
corrupt, the priests are corrupt, the Roman Catholic Church is
corrupt …. Ohhhh …. I’m sorry
(looking out at the congregation for the first time).
Martin, I don’t think we have introduced
ourselves. How rude.
(His manner is calmer now.) Sometimes
when we come from class, we get to
arguing very intensely and we forget what is happening around us …
I would like to introduce
my dear friend and colleague of the Reformation, Dr. Philip
Melanchton is the
genius, the brains, the intelligence behind the Reformation.
He had his PHD by the time he was
only twenty years old; he had written his first book, a major thick
one, by the time he was
twenty-two; he was a teacher of the Greek language.
Ultimately, he wrote a very important
document called the Augsburg Confession.
The Augsburg Confession summarizes all the major,
theological doctrine of the world, even to this day, all Lutheran
congregations subscribe to the
articles of the Augsburg Confession …
written by none other than Dr. Philip Melanchthon.
deeply and graciously).
Thank you, Martin.
And I would like to introduce to you my very good friend and
colleague, Dr. Martin Luther. There
is no doubt that Dr. Luther’s ideas are the driving force
behind the Reformation. He
is the father of the Reformation, beginning it all by nailing his
theses to the door at Wittenberg in 1517. He is a master of languages, the greatest master
Hebrew language for centuries, and he translated the entire Bible
into the German language. The
German people finally had a Bible they could read in their own
language. He is an
pastor and theological professor.
You may not know that Martin has a fine tenor voice and has
many, many fine hymns.
Let us conclude our worship today by singing,
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
That hymn of
mine is based on Psalm 46. God
is our refuge and strength, a mighty fortress, a very present help
in time of trouble.
Martin is married to Katherine von Bora.
For 21 years, Katie and I have been married.
Martin is a family man, a good, loving father.
Katie and I have six children and we also
raised eleven orphans. Katie
and I have taken care of
seventeen children during our marriage.
But there is one quality about you that really
troubles me, Martin.
Well, what is that?
You are abrasive!
You always come back with that.
because I call the Pope a
jackass; just because I call the priests a bunch of jackasses; you
say I am abrasive. (Martin
passionately agitated again in this speech and the next.)
Martin, you are abrasive, and your
abrasiveness divides people. You
must be more careful in the
way you say things. I
remember that conversation that you had with John Calvin. Poor John
Calvin, he is perhaps still upset about that.
You bring up his name and it sets my heart on fire.
John Calvin, who doesn’t
believe that Jesus is really present in the bread and wine.
Jesus, who is present in every blade of
grass. Jesus, who is
present in the petal of every flower.
John Calvin doesn’t believe that Jesus
is really present in the bread and wine.
It infuriates me the way he thinks.
I couldn’t agree with you more.
You are absolutely right.
It’s not what you
said, Martin, it is the way you said it.
And, the gemstone of the Reformation.
Romans 3. We are
justified by grace through faith.
mean, the gemstone of the Reformation. Do you remember what he did?
Calvin put the
gemstone of the Reformation in the epilogue to his book … in the
appendix to his book of all
places. When I heard
it, I was furious. He
didn’t understand. He
didn’t understand the core of
Yes, Martin, that is enough to be very, very
angry about, and I couldn’t agree with you more.
Justification by grace through faith.
It doesn’t matter about the quality of our good works, our
own understanding, our own merit, our own effort.
But we are saved purely by the grace of God
through faith in Christ Jesus.
You know, Philip, I remember when I first
discovered the truth about God’s grace (calm
I had come to Wittenberg as a young man, my first teaching position.
I was preparing my
lessons on the psalms, and I read that passage which said:
“The righteous shall live by faith.”
only I were righteous enough then God would love me.
And there in the psalms, I discovered it
was not by goodness or my righteousness that caused God to love me
… it was
righteousness. And when
I finally realized that, it was like this enormous burden was taken
my shoulders (gestures for an
enormous burden off his back).
Ahh, so many years ago.
You know, Martin, I don’t think I ever told
you this, but when I first came to Wittenberg as a
professor to teach theology, philosophy and Greek, that day, my
first day at Wittenberg, you
were preaching, and I heard your words about grace, love, and
freedom. I had been
hard to succeed as a new professor
… studying the Greek so hard
… working so hard to know
theology … and then, I heard your words about grace.
For me too, it was like a weight had been
taken off my back.
(same gestures as Martin’s)
I am not sure if I ever thanked you for that
sermon, Martin. It was
a momentous day in my life.
Thank you, Philip, you are a kind friend to
me. You always have been.
do you think
that little children could understand the doctrine of justification?
I believe they could, Martin.
It’s basically a very simple idea.
Shall we invite them forward?
Are there some children here?
Why don’t you children come forward.
(children come forward
as during a children’s sermon)
Children, I would like you to meet Dr. Philip Melanchthon.
Could you all say, Dr. Melanchthon?
(the children repeat Dr. Melanchthon)
And children, this is Dr. Martin Luther.
Could you all say, “Good morning, Dr. Luther”?
(Children, “Good morning, Dr. Luther”)
Our church is named after Dr. Luther.
This is a
Lutheran church. …
Now, I have a question for you.
Do any of you do anything to get
yourself in trouble at home? What
do you do to get yourself in trouble?
back”, “don’t do my chores”, “hit my brother”,
“don’t go to bed”, “don’t clean my room”)
Now, we all do things wrong, do we not?
And, we call that sin. Justification
means this: God
looks upon me, a sinner, “Just as if I never
sinned.” What is
MARTIN & PHILIP:
as if I never sinner.”
Children, can you say that?
“Just”….(Children repeat, “Just as if I never
sinned.”) And God
looks at you and you and you and you … and God looks at all of us
who are by nature … very
sinful, imperfect people, and God looks on all of us
MARTIN & PHILIP:
“Just as if I never sinned.”
Children, notice this waste paper basket I
have here with all this waste and garbage in it. Look
inside and see all the stuff and junk there. Sometimes our lives are
like that, with clutter and junk
and garbage in our lives. Now, I am going to place a white cloth
over the garbage and now what
do you see? The white cloth. Jesus is the white cloth. When God
looks at our lives that have so
much evil in them, God does not see that garbage can but sees the
white cloth that covers up all
the sin that is within. God looks on our lives “just as if we
never sinned.” God sees only the
goodness of Christ.
Thanks very much for coming up children.
You may be seated now. You
see, Philip, I do think
that children do understand God’s gracious love …
So do I Martin.
It’s very simple … You know Martin, when we were involved in the Roman
Catholic Church at the beginning of the Reformation, it was obvious
to us that there were so
many abuses in the church. The
church was in desperate need of reformation.
So many abuses.
It was obvious that the church needed reform. But today, we come into this sanctuary and one of
your great hymns is sung; people are here worshipping in spirit;
they seem to love and care for
each other. …
Martin, is the church today in need of reform, and if so,
what would be the
nature of that reform
Philip, Philip, Philip.
The church is always in need of reform.
The church is always in trouble
and therefore, always needs to be purified and cleansed.
… Let me
mention at least two needed
reforms. Do you
remember 1528 when I went back out into Saxony to visit the German
peasants? Do you
Yes, you were very disappointed.
I mean, I couldn’t believe that these German peasants,
these Christians, didn’t
know the Bible at all. They
didn’t know the most elementary things about the Christian faith.
They didn’t even know the Ten Commandments. They didn’t know the
Gospels, and so I wrote a little book
called the Small Catechism, and in that Small
Catechism. It lays out
some basic Christian doctrine - The Ten Commandments The
Creed - The Sacraments - The Lord’s Prayer. And I wrote simply so that little children and their parents
could understand some basics about the faith.
… Now, I am
going to ask you some questions about the Bible.
Philip, what is Ephesians 2:8?
For by grace, you have been saved through
faith. This is not your
own doing but is the free gift
of God lest anyone should boast.
A beautiful passage.
There is no distinction, for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God.
Ah, the Gospel in a nutshell.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten
whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.
See, Philip, you know these passages.
But I have been studying about American life, and I have
discovered that only 30% of this nation can name four of the Ten
don’t know the Ten Commandments, and most Americans can’t even
name the four Gospels.
And this is a so-called
Christian nation. I ask
you, the congregation, some questions.
You don’t need to stand nor recite but simply raise your
hands. How many of you
here today can recite for me at least five Bible verses?
…Can I see your hands?
… Can you
recite for me at least five Bible verses?
people out of 400. See,
it’s the same problem of 1528.
The problem is the same.
That common and ordinary Christians did not know the word of
and so the continuing reformation, Philip, is for us to
forever persuade our Christians to know and study the Bible, the
Word of God. …
But there is also a second reform needed.
What is that Martin?
Let me briefly explain. In my
explanations in the Small Catechism, I always begin, “We
are to fear, love and trust God above all things.” We are to fear,
love, and trust God above all things. Sometimes, my feeling
about American Christians is that they fear, love and trust things
far more than the living God. … But, how about you, Philip; what
reforms do you see today that are needed in the American churches?
I would agree with what you said, but for me,
it has to do with how people understand faith on
the one hand, and feelings on the other hand. It seems to me, Martin, today there is confusion
between faith and feelings. People
think they need to have these great religious feelings in order
to have faith …
they need to feel religious, they need to feel the presence
of God around them
all the time, or they don’t have faith.
Martin, feelings are like this.
A person goes out into the
woods and builds a fire. They
crumple up the paper and put on the dry twigs and they ignite
it, and soon, they have a roaring blaze which gives off intense
light and heat - for a moment.
But just as suddenly as it ignites, it suddenly is reduced to a pile
of ashes. It quickly
and just as quickly burns out.
That’s what feelings are like, Martin.
… Faith, on
the other hand,
is like when I go home to my hearth and I take my paper and my
kindling and I kindle a nice fire.
I ignite it and it flames up, and
then I go out to get my alderwood.
You mean, the alderwood logs?
Yes, my alderwood.
I bring in my alderwood and place it on the well-kindled
fire, and soon the
alderwood begins to catch fire and to flame, and before long, I have
a nice bed of coals …
that glow an even orange color, that gives off an even, steady heat.
You see, Martin, that is what
faith is like.
I like that Philip.
Faith is like that steady burning, steady, sure, warm fire.
… For me,
belief in the grace of God that is so assured that a person would
die a thousand deaths for its
Beautifully put, Martin.
Ah, I hear the bell.
Is it that time already?
Time to go back to class.
I so enjoy our conversations.
The time flies by so quickly.
Philip, you being the theologian of the
Reformation, if you were going to summarize the
Reformation into one dominant theme, what would you say?
Well, Martin, that would have to be the
doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ
Jesus. It does not
depend upon our own merit. It
does not depend on our own works of charity;
not on our own understanding or effort of goodness.
Salvation is not dependent upon anything
we do. It is purely a
gift of God. And so it
is: grace alone, faith
alone, Christ alone.
I will say “Amen” to that, Philip, but we
must be going or we will be late for class.
books off the table, begin
walking down the aisle, still talking) Maybe you’re right, Philip.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so abrasive …
Well, Martin, it certainly would keep us out
of trouble …
if you were less abrasive.
There you go again.
Always wanting to keep out of trouble.
I don’t understand that quality in
you … (leave arguing)
David E. Cox