Professor Greg Miller on why we need the teachings of Martin Luther 500 years later

File Under: Academic Excellence

Professor of History Gregory Miller just returned from a speaking tour discussing the topic, “Here He Stands and Can Do No Other: Why After 500 Years We Need Martin Luther More Than Ever.” Miller will offer a lecture for the Malone community tomorrow evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Silk Auditorium. 

Miller spent much of the summer in Europe: in July he was a guest researcher at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany and a plenary speaker at the Nuremberg 2017 conference; then in August he was part of the enormous 500th celebration for Luther’s 95 Theses in Wittenberg. Miller is a member of the International Luther Research Congress (ILRC), an every five year, invitation-only meeting of recognized experts on Martin Luther from around the world. The 2017 event was Miller’s fifth congressional meeting, as he has also participated in congresses in St. Paul, Minn., Heidelberg, Germany, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Helsinki, Finland.

“The German federal government took the celebration really seriously, as Luther is considered a founding father of Germany,” Miller said. “We attended receptions hosted by several prime ministers, and many of the festivities were hosted at the Castle Church. They opened the Church doors that have been bronzed, and we actually got to exit the doors where the 95 theses were nailed.” 

In his lecture, Miller makes two specific arguments of why we need the messages of Luther now more than ever. First is Luther’s teaching is that salvation is by faith alone. 

“We live in a society where perfection is projected through social media, in our churches. But salvation is received, not achieved, and we need constant reminders about grace in a very real way,” said Miller. “You will never be more righteous than you are right now, and God will never love you more than He does right now. We need reminders of grace; that salvation is by faith alone.” 

The second, Miller explained, is that, because the Church is made up of people, that we are “always in need of reformation.” 

“Luther emphasized that we always need to turn our eyes to Scripture to measure what we do,” he said. “We must point our compass to the True North – Scripture – to be reminded of God. If we can substitute the word "baby" for "Jesus" in our worship music and it still makes sense, then something’s not quite right. There is a big difference between thinking ‘Christian-ly’ and ‘Christian-ish’.” 


SEATS OF SIGNIFICANCE. Dr. Gregory Miller and his wife Darla, seated on the grounds of Lutherhaus, the home where Martin Luther wrote his “95 Theses.” Luther’s wife, Katharina von Bora, ordered those two seats to be constructed as a place where she and her husband could connect in the middle of their busy days. 

Miller with a modern statue of Luther at the Nuremberg conference.