October 31, 1517, the monk and university professor Martin Luther marched up to the castle church in Wittenberg, with a piece of paper, a few nails and a hammer, and posted 95 theses at the door. What was intended to start a theological disputation lit the flame of the reformation, the split between the catholic and protestant churches. It changed the world forever - it not only changed the landscape of Europe, leaving millions dead, it also pushed open the door for the modern age, moved forward the freedom of conscience, the respect for learning --- and, for many people most importantly, put the Bible into the hands of the people. Luther who had been excommunicated for challenging the authority of the Roman-catholic church, was hid until march 1522 in the Wartburg, where he translated the New Testament into German - into the vernacular, the language people spoke in their homes, on the market, in the field. When the first edition was printed in 1522, the 3000 copies were sold in three days, and Luther saw the 1 millionth copy sold before he died in 1546. Although this was not the first translation into any vernacular, it was his Bible which broke the walls of translation in western Europe, and once this wall was down, the Bible was no longer the privilege for the clergy. It was the people's book. And with this empowerment of the individual the world was never the same.
In Germany, this translation was continually revised in a respectful way to keep up with the intention to have a book that speaks a language people can understand. The most recent Luther Bible, used in all protestant churches, is a revision of the most recent years - and is still called the Luther Bible. The newest revision, as it was published by the editorial board, is so fresh because it went back to the original in many places.
It seems to me that all true reformative movements don't start with strategy but with fearlessness and one very good question. Luther is reported as saying, that he was looking for a God he could love. Authentic fearlessness comes from a deep love, a link to conscience, to true understanding. You never desert what you truly love. Once you have reached this place in your own heart, the world is no longer a match. Luther's fearless trust in the Biblical message led not only to reformed Christianity, it also opened his life to several healings, and you can read about some of them here.
I have been pondering fearlessness and courage as a golden thread running through Luther's life, and this thread is evident in quotes from his many theological writings, sermons, and notes from his "table talks". They ring true today.
Here are some of Luther's sayings:
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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