Lutherans have always known how to handle a crisis. Whether founding hospitals, social service organizations, or national and international disaster relief agencies, Lutherans have been out front. On the other hand, Lutherans have not always been so eager to become involved in advocacy and politics. Historically, we have been reluctant to challenge unjust systems or lead reform movements. But the end of World War II sounded a wake-up call; most German Lutherans had been silent about the Nazis’ brutal extermination of Jews.
Martin Luther’s writings display his recognition of the need for social activism. In “On Usury and Trade,” Luther rails against the people in power who are getting immensely rich on the backs of the poor. He calls people to boycott such enterprises rather than patronize structures that are obviously unjust. In “Whether Soldiers Too Can Be Saved,” Luther counsels soldiers to refuse to obey their military superiors when they are convinced that the military action is evil and unjust.
What surprises you about Luther’s writings? What unjust structures or systems do you see in society today?
This message is excerpted from “Called to be Political,” a 2020 resource of the Women of the ELCA.
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