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Martin Luther: A Reformer, Theologian and bible Translator, Part 1

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Many times, we get to hear fragments of Martin Luther’s life and ministry. But the more I know the ‘man’ Luther, who is complex and interesting in many ways, a bible professor, an ex-priest, a reformer, a national icon and family model for German families, who introduced the modern form of family devotion around dinner table, a bible translator, a song writer, and at times a very funny man. He was a fierce debater, I beseech you not to disagree with Luther; I suggest you read his letter to Zwingli, another reformer from Swiss with whom he disagreed on the nature of the Lord’s Supper. (Both Luther and Zwingli never knew each other when they started the reformation independently from each other in Wittenberg and Zurich respectively) I was in a train once reading his letter exchange with Zwingli, and literally could not control my laughter-out loud, while everyone looking at me like ‘wuhu’. My position is somewhat similar to Zwingli, in fact many of us, and he is saying that to us as well. He called him all kind of names derived from all kind of animals. You get my point.

More than all, the more I read his prayers, the more I know Luther the man of prayer, who treats His God as a person and knew him very well. I would like to share few of his prayers for few days that helped me in my brokenness and sometimes helped me to articulate my pain in words to God. You can see that his prayers were influenced by the Psalms. There is a reason for that. Many times people say Luther came to Christ reading Roman 1:17. Yes, but the truth is that he taught the book of Psalms, Romans and Galatians word for word to his students and the more he read the Psalms, the more he came to the conclusion that the Psalms were Christ–centered. And that prepared him very much to his conclusion on Romans 1:17.

Here is Luther’s prayer while he was under great Trial and Persecution at the Diet (Imperial assembly) in Worms April 18, 1521 where he was summoned to renounce or reaffirm his views, to which he responded as follow:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen”

But he did not say that on the first day, April 17, 1521. When the moderator, Johann von Eck, asks him if he recant his writings, he acknowledged in a barely audible voice, that hey were his. Luther then asks for time to consider his response. That night he fell before his face and prayed first noting “how small is my faith in Thee!” see also his prayer below. No wonder he wrote the Hymn song “A mighty fortress is our God”


© 2015, Samson Tilahun. All rights reserved.

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