Martin Luther’s Potty Mouth…



Back in April, I was with Sean McLeish and Derek Rishmawy in Orlando for a conference. Seriously, Derek is a blogging machine! I asked him how he came up with so many topics to write on and his response was something like, “When you read something… when something strikes you or comes to mind, write about that.” Ok! Derek, see if they accept these kinds of articles on the Gospel Coalition website…

When you think of Martin Luther (1483-1546) what comes to mind? Of course most would identify him as the person who initiated the Reformation in the 16th century. But what you might not know about about Luther (nor was it in the movie with Joseph Fiennes) was his rather “earthy” personality.  What I mean by that is… well… Luther had a reputation for having a potty mouth. This week I was reading about the 2004 discovery of Luther’s toilet where he evidently pondered much of the Ninety-Five Thesis (Toilet where Luther strained to produce the Reformation). Luther had a severe problem with chronic constipation which might explain why he was so intense all the time…

Luther had a strong fascination with flatulence. As a young Catholic monk, Luther had quite a heavy conscience that required him to confess his sins constantly. Evidently when he went to confession he would confess so much that the supervising Father finally told Luther that he was so obssesed with his own sin that he would likely confess his own fart. Luther’s more famous quote was, “I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away.” Wow… what kind of odor would chase the devil away?

I’m certainly not an advocate for Christians adopting foul language in their everyday conversations. However, as I was thinking about this, I recollected Philippians 3:8 where Paul in contrasting “all things” with knowing Christ used the Greek word, “skubala”. Unfortunately, the word gets sanitized as it’s translated from Greek to English. The real thrust of the contrast is compared to knowing Christ, everything is (here it comes, but I’ll be sensitive)… crap. You get what Paul is saying. Compared to surpassing greatness of knowing Christ, all of it, everything that I think brings me meaning, identity and security is like a pile of human excrement. The metaphor that Paul uses here is powerful because it wells up strong feelings in us and shouldn’t really be sanitized because it loses it’s ability to shock our genteel Christianity into reality! Maybe there should be room for a rare but well-placed bomb…

Those who know Christ long for the day that contrast gets deeply settled in our hearts and, in the thinking of Dallas Willard, as sincere followers of Christ are intentionally rearranging the affairs of their life to that end.  Do you engage with Christ to that end? And all of this with the hope that one day He will redeem even our own flatulence…

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