Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Monday, September 29, 2008

Luther's ,,Faith Alone"

If you've ever seen the 1953 movie ,,Martin Luther" (and what Lutheran hasn't seen it?), you will remember the scene where Luther writes in the margins of Romans 3,28 ,,sola" as he says, ,,The just shall live by faith alone." (It's at the 32:55 minute mark in the movie). Check out this seven minute clip on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-wi0kcLLr0.

In doing so, was Luther adding to Scripture? Let's look at the text:

We maintain that a person is justified by faith without works of the law (English).

So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben (Luther's Bible).

I italicized Luther's addition (,,allein" or ,,alone"); it's not found in the Greek text. So why did Luther add the word when he translated the Bible from Greek into German?

Often, when you translate from one language into another you need to add or subtract words to make it understandable. For example, in German there are some words you don't need to translate into English because the context explains the omitted words. In the German of Romans 3,28, you don't usually translate the adverb ,,dafür" (which means ,,for it") but let the sentence's context run the translation. What is important is not merely a word for word literal translation (which is always wooden and lacks sound grammar when done), but a translation that is faithful to the sentence and its context is of utmost importance. I still remember Dr. Brighton telling us at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis that any translation is a just a commentary on the original text; the first commentary he encouraged us to read is the English Bible.

In the context of Romans 3,28 St. Paul could have simply written: ,,We maintain that a person is justified by faith" and the context would cry out that St. Paul is talking about faith ,,alone". When he adds the phrase ,,without works of the law", the apostle is emphasising that we are justified by faith alone. Luther, therefore, rightly understood the origninal Greek and St. Paul's wording (under the Holy Spirit's inspiration) to be describing faith ,,alone".

In addition, Luther was not being innovative when saying Romans 3,28 is talking about justification by faith ,,alone". Thirteen other theologians had said the same thing long before Luther's translation. Among those theologians were Thomas Aquinas (a heavyweight among Medieval theologians) and Augustine (one of the most acclaimed Western theologians of all times). Check out this post at the blog Beggars All:

Luther's insistence on faith alone is perhaps the most essential aspects of the Reformation and the Protestant denominations that were born from a renewed proclamation of the gospel in the early 16th century. The concept permeates many of Luther's writings and is the cornerstone of the Augsburg Confession. Justification by faith is truly the chief doctrine of the Church and it remains the balm for tortured consciences that lament over their many sins.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Oktoberfest 2008 kicked off in Munich on Saturday, September 20. It runs for two weeks.

You can enjoy the feel for Oktoberfest at http://www.muenchen-tv.de/

Click on the Livestream button and then the muenchen.tv livestream button, and you can watch the festivities at various times throughout the day. Try the muenchen2.tv button also, because they show some festivities there, too. Last year, they liked to sing John Denver's ,,Country Road"; I heard that over and over again while listening to the livestream. They are singing it this year as well; it's probably a staple now at the fair.

Remember that Germany is 6 hours ahead of EST.

Alex Onkel and Marion Schieder host Wiesn for Muenchen TV. They are funny and great! Here they are singing Robbie Williams' ,,Angels".

Alex and Marion often sit at this table and interview different people! She is such a comedian.

Oktoberfest (aka Wiesn) was first celebrated in 1810 as a celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig (of Bavaria) to Princess Theresa Von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festival was held in a beautiful meadow called Theresienwiess, in honor of the Princess; 30,000 people showed up!

The beer is served in one liter steins, called ,,ein Mass". The Bavarian custom at the table is not to drink until everyone has a stein. You toast the steins, put the stein on the table with a thud, and then drink and say ,,Prost!" (Cheers!). Btw, Norm from ,,Cheers" would love Oktoberfest; in fact, I think the character celebrated Oktoberfest every day in Cheers. (Did you know that in DS9, the alien patron always at the bar in Quark's, named Morn, is a based on the character Norm from ,,Cheers"? They just swapped the first and last letters in the name!).

The closest I've come to Oktoberfest is Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA. I can't remember the place of the restaruant hall in the German section of the park, but it was full of dancing, oompah music, singing, and good food all in a style and atmosphere of Oktoberfest. I bought my first German stein there. Also, there used to be an elderly man always singing and hosting, but he is proabably deceased now, as I remember seeing him every time we went to Busch Gardens throughout the 70's and 80's. Plus, the park has Clysdesdale horses that you used to be able to pet and feed. Don't know if they still allow that.

Other common Oktoberfest toasts are ,,Ein Prosit" (A Toast) and ,,Eins, zwei, drei, gesuffe!" (1, 2, 3, down the hatch!).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Korskirken in Bergen, Norway

One of the things I love about the church I serve is the ethnic diversity of the members. Although many have roots in Germany, there are also descendents of Norwegians, Swedes, Slavs, Philippinos, and Native Americans. One of my members hails from Bergen, Norway and her father was a Lutheran pastor there. He is deceased now, but he served Korskirken (Holy Cross Church). The church is built in the form of a cross.

Here is a link to Korskirken's history (via a Google translation):

Olav Tryggvason, a Norwegian Viking, became a Christian when he was baptized in London in 994. He returned to Norway to bring Christianity to the Vikings. In 1536 the Lutheran Reformation came to Norway. Olav only reigned as king from 995-1000, but Olav II Haraldsson (who reigned from 1015-30) brought priests from England to organize the Norwegian Church.

Norway has a state church (Lutheranism), but other denominations have roots there too. The State-Church relationship will soon be modified in the future. Check out the English version of the Church of Norway for more information about that here:

Harald V is the current king of Norway. He is Lutheran, and takes his duties as the defender of the Church seriously. He is also the first Norwegian-born King to sit on the throne since 1370.

Sissel, an internationally renowned Norwegian singer (she sang at the 1991 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and sang for the movie "Titanic") sang as a girl in Korskirken.

Monday, September 08, 2008

FC Bayern "Star of the South"

Okay, here's the translation of Billy Astor's 1998 song ,,Stern des Suenden". I just did a straight translation because it takes much more time to get the lines to rhyme. You'll get the drift of the song.

FC Bayern "Star of the South"

Billy Astor "star of the south," 1998

Which Munich soccer team is known around the whole world?
What is this club, which holds these records here?
Who has already won what it ever was to win?
Who brings decades since our Federal League fully on trap?

FC Bavaria, star of the south, you will never go under,
Because we stand together in the good times as well as the bad.
FC Bavaria, German champions, so my club is called
Yes, so it was and so it is and so it will always be.

Where is clearly already under attack, who spies on us every day?
Where is the press, where is the hype, where is always discussed?
Who plays in each stadium before a sold out house?
Who endures the pressure from the adversary?


Whether the trophy is in the Federal League or Champions League
Yes, because what is more beautiful than a Bavarian victory?
Here is life, here is love, here is fire that remains around
Munich, Germany's best for all eternity!

Refrain (3x)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

FC Bayern ,,Stern des Suedens" (Star of the South)

Here's a tribute to the BEST German football team: Bayern Munich!


Here's the lyrics (I'll post the translation soon):

Willy Astor "Stern des Suedens"

Welche Münchner Fußballmannschaft kennt man auf der ganzen Welt?
Wie heißt dieser Klub, der hierzulande die Rekorde hählt?
Wer hat schon gewonnen, was es jemals zu gewinnen gab?
Wer bringt seit Jahrzenten unsre Bundesliga voll auf Trap?

FC Bayern, Stern des Südens, du wirst niemals untergehn,
weil wir in guten wie in schlechten Zeiten zu einander stehen.
FC Bayern, Deutscher Meister, ja so heißt er, mein Verein,
ja so war es und so ist es und so wird es immer sein

Wo wird klar schon angegriffen, wo wird täglich spioniert?
Wo ist die Presse, wo ist Rummel, wo wird immer diskutiert?
Wer spiel in jedem Stadion vor ausverkauftem Haus?
Wer hält den Druck der Gegner aus?


Ob Bundesliga im Pokal oder Champions League
ja gibt es denn was Schöneres als einen Bayern Sieg?
Hier ist Leben, hier ist Liebe, hier ist Feuer und drum bleibt
München Deutschlands bester bis in alle Ewigkeit!

Refrain (3x)