Luther and German Nationalism (William Castro)

Recently, the Bible-believing world has celebrated the 500 year of Martin Luther's life and the Reformation. We remembered great qualities and the positive legacy of such a remarkable man of the sixteenth- century. Now that this celebration is over, it is wise to consider that Luther was not necessarily celebrated in the same way throughout history and in all places. Going back 100 years, Luther was celebrated in Germany as an example of faith and nationalism. The impact of Luther's life and thought on German Nationalism is a highly complex but etremely important topic. We not only need to understand the more wholesome sides of the Reformer's story; we also need to evaluate the role of Christianity respecting the recent resurgence of nationalisms. If by "nationalism" one means patriotism--the noble idea of loving your own country and people--then it is something we might welcome and encourage. However, if one means an identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations (as the Oxford dictionary defines "nationalism") then we must reject such an idea. When we come to consider Luther and German Nationalism we come to a difficult discussion for a number of reasons. First, the nationalism of Luther's day has been tied (whether properly or improperly) to the twentieth century Holocaust; therefore, it has become a highly sensitive topic. Second, this subject has been manipulated to two extremes: some, such as Elvira Roca Barea, accuse Luther of promoting racist nationalism similar to the kind characterized by the Nazis; and others, such as Eric Metaxas, deny any connection at all between Luther and later German Nationalism. Heiko Oberman reached a more balanced, careful, and disciplined conclusion. He wrote: "The National Socialists celebrated in Luther the national hero, but they did not create this image of him. Religious conviction and national pride had for centuries intert...

Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

End of year giving
reformation21 is the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting reformation21 and the mission of the Alliance. Please donate here.

from Reformation21 Blog


Popular posts from this blog

Build and Use a Logos Bible Software Library for Free

FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS 'flexible access' enrolls off-site students

State papers celebrate milestones, consider future