Tag Archives: Euro Crisis

Reformation Ripples

This is a great short article in the NYT on the Euro Crisis, Germany and the Lutheran roots of German reaction. It even quotes Freedom of a Christian!

…But rather than scour tarnished Weimar, we should read much deeper into Germany’s incomparably rich history, and in particular the indelible mark left by Martin Luther and the “mighty fortress” he built with his strain of Protestantism. Even today Germany, though religiously diverse and politically secular, defines itself and its mission through the writings and actions of the 16th century reformer, who left a succinct definition of Lutheran society in his treatise “The Freedom of a Christian,” which he summarized in two sentences: “A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none, and a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all.”

Consider Luther’s view on charity and the poor. He made the care of the poor an organized, civic obligation by proposing that a common chest be put in every German town; rather than skimp along with the traditional practice of almsgiving to the needy and deserving native poor, Luther proposed that they receive grants, or loans, from the chest. Each recipient would pledge to repay the borrowed amount after a timely recovery and return to self-sufficiency, thereby taking responsibility for both his neighbors and himself. This was love of one’s neighbor through shared civic responsibility, what the Lutherans still call “faith begetting charity.” …

Highlights one of my hobby-horses. We all have a theology even if we can’t actually explain it or put it into words. I’d rather we were able to explain them instead of drive them underground. I’d also like people to have good theologies rather than poor ones. This is actually the work of a real education. Angela Merkel – “a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor” – knows hers and its a good one.