A PLENTEOUS SEED OF WITNESSES

First Things | 12/31/1969 | Mathew Block
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On July 1, 1523, two Augustinian monks were burnt at the stake in Brussels for adhering to Martin Luther’s teachings.

Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes were the first Lutheran martyrs. They and their entire monastery in Antwerp had officially adopted Reformation doctrine in 1522. The monks were subsequently rounded up and imprisoned. Facing execution, most recanted and were released; Esch and Voes, however, refused.

Hearing - Deaths - Martin - Luther - Hymn

On hearing of their deaths, Martin Luther composed his first hymn, recounting the story of their martyrdom. The first verse of John A. Messenger’s 1843 English paraphrase of the text reads as follows:

Shall gathered be at last.

Witnesses - God

Of witnesses for God.

Nearly 501 years after the beginning of the Reformation, the spiritual heirs of these Lutheran martyrs returned to Belgium once again. From September 25–28, 2018, church leaders representing more than fifty church bodies and 20 million Lutherans worldwide gathered in Antwerp for the 2018 World Conference of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The ILC is an international association of churches dedicated to upholding historic, confessional Lutheranism.

Lutheranism - Renaissance - Sorts - Years - Lutheran

Confessional Lutheranism has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the past few years as numerous Lutheran churches around the world begin to resist contemporary reinterpretations of Lutheranism in favor of a deeper connection to historic Lutheran teachings and practice (I highlighted this resistance in detail in a 2017 article for First Things). The ILC’s 2018 World Conference brings this phenomenon into sharper relief; In Antwerp, the International Lutheran Council accepted 17 new church bodies into membership, more than doubling the total number of Lutherans associated with the ILC worldwide.

This represents a seismic shift in the state of world Lutheranism. Other churches will follow; even before the conference ended, additional...
(Excerpt) Read more at: First Things
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