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“To Whom Shall We Go? You Have The Words Of Eternal Life”: Luther’s 1532 Funeral Sermons

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Chapter Summary

The life spans of people in industrialized countries have witnessed the contemporary transformation, particularly in English-speaking countries, of the sacred funeral into a secular memorial. The backdrop of the sermons can be appreciated by applying Bitzer's concept of rhetorical situation, a natural context of persons, events, objects, relations, and an exigence that strongly invites utterance. Luther states the reason for the occasion and the sermon, shares the Scripture text (1 Thess. 4:13-14), and argues that grief is godly and proper behavior for the Christian. Luther's words exude confidence in God, and find present comfort in the words of Paul. Luther's rhetorical repertoire was not subdued for a somber occasion. Like any other pulpit opportunity, these sermons try to unleash the meaning in the text, using imagery and affect that renders the proclamation of the gospel potent.

Keywords: Christian; eternal life; God; gospel; sacred funeral; scripture; secular memorial; sermon



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