Formula Missae 1523 och Deutsche Messe 1526 som uttryck för Luthers kyrkosyn

  • Thomas Grimalm, Ph.D. Senior lecturer, Umeå University, Sweden


Martin Luther acted in a complex field of tension between the Ro-man Church and radical reforming movements. This is part of the background for the liturgies that Luther composed in the 1520s, Formula Missae and Deutsche Messe. Ola Tjørhom has pointed to a minimalist trait in Reformation ecclesiology, connected with a cer-tain understanding of what ”is enough”, satis est, for the true unity of the Church according to Confessio Augustana, article VII. Such a minimalism, however, where satis est is thought of almost as a prohibition against giving ecclesiological weight to other factors than word and sacrament, overlooks the fact that Luther in other writings listed both seven and eleven ”signs of the Church” (notae ecclesiae).

The problem studied in this article is whether Luther’s liturgies anticipate his descriptions of the signs of the Church that appear in more developed form much later. If so, his thinking about the Church, although it changed over time, might be seen to display a higher degree of continuity than is usually assumed.

Luther’s two liturgies are analyzed against the background of how Luther and Melanchthon described the visible manifestation of the Church in the world and the historical context in which they were written. This is done under two main headings: ”The Form and Meaning of Preaching” and ”The Evangelical Use of the Mass”. In-spiration for this method has been drawn from Reinhards Schwartz’ emphasis on the close connection in Luther’s thought between the word and the other signs of the Church; from Oswald Bayer’s view that word and sacrament in CA VII must not be understood in isola-tion; and Gordon W. Lathrop’s thesis about the signs of the Church as an active liturgical reality. For a Lutheran ecclesiology this means that the external word stands in a direct relation to the life of the Church that grows out of it.

The study shows that Formula Missae and Deutsche Messe do not contribute to a minimalist view of Luther’s ecclesiology. These li-turgies may be said to anticipate the signs of the Church that Luther describes in Von den Konziliis und Kirchen (1539). Thanks to Luther’s strong emphasis on the Word as having creating force, the other signs emerge in the liturgy and establish the visibility and corporeality of the Church. In addition, there is in Luther a clear conviction that it is the Word itself that both enables and enacts reforms in the Church.