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September 11, 2018, 8:43 AM

Martin Luther on Education

I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure. . . . When letters have declined and lain prostrate, theology, too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate. . . . It is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily.[1] – Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523.

As we begin another year of Christian Education programming, I came across this quote from Martin Luther in a letter he wrote to Eoban Hess.  In his day, Luther was a significant proponent of education for all—something that seems fundamental to society now, but was radical for its time.  Nor was he speaking specifically of Christian Education like Theology or Biblical Studies.  Such a notion would have been a false dichotomy to him because all education was seen as Christian Education.  Education itself is a gift from God, and a way to better understand the world God made. 

It’s with that in mind that I want to encourage you to continue your own education—not only with the educational programs we offer here, but also with personal reading or classes.  Pick up a book of poetry, or challenge yourself by reading an objective biography of someone you know little about—or may not like that much (indeed, the Sr. High were talking about loving your neighbor and praying for your enemies at their Bible Study earlier this week).  You might even consider a class at the community college, or the library.  And as you do, remember that this process of lifelong learning is one aspect of our Lutheran heritage that we honor each time we embrace education (and those people and resources who help us learn) as a gift from God.

Blessings in your learning!

-Pr. Nathan

A Prayer for Teachers and Students:  

God our Creator,

You surround us with the marvels of this world and give us the ability to explore the mysteries of creation. You fill the earth with the Spirit of wisdom and inspire us to search for the truth. You have sent us prophets and teachers as witnesses to your love for us. You have come among us in Jesus Christ to teach us your saving truth by word and example. Help us to enjoy our learning together and enable us to take delight in exploration. Give us patience in our studies and strength to use what we learn to your glory. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, now and forever. Amen.[2] 


[1] Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters. Trans. Preserved Smith and Charles Jacobs, Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1918. Pg. 176-7.

[2] Adapted from Augsburg Fortress Publishers, Autumn Seasonal Worship Resources.

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