Steven Ozment –In Euro Crisis, Germany Looks to Martin Luther

….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.”

How little has changed in 500 years. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor, clearly believes the age-old moral virtues and remedies are the best medicine for the euro crisis.

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Globalization, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

2 comments on “Steven Ozment –In Euro Crisis, Germany Looks to Martin Luther

  1. Yebonoma says:

    Not a bad article. It would have been nice if the author also included some of Luther’s thoughts about vocation and how it is a visible manifestation of one’s faith and living out the Gospel. Also, I believe St. Paul said that it is the duty of all able bodied Christians to work and provide for their families and community, so those truly in need could be given a hand up, as opposed to a hand-out. He also had some not so gentle thoughts about those able to work who chose not to work, but that would be viewed as mean spirited and non-inclusive.

  2. MichaelA says:

    Good points #1, but at least its a start!