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The Forgotten Luther

Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation

Carter Lindberg and Paul Wee, editors

It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little (St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 8: 13-15).

God is the kind of Lord who does nothing but exalt those of low degree and put down the mighty from their thrones, in short, break what is whole and make whole what is broken (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works 21:299-300).

How does the income disparity we see in our culture today mesh with the biblical call to share the wealth of God’s creation with equity? How does the existence of extreme wealth alongside of hunger and poverty—in our country and in our world—mesh with St. Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians to strike a “fair balance between your present abundance and their need”?

From his earliest days in Wittenberg when he saw the adverse effects of the new market economy on the common people and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of beggars on the streets, Martin Luther had committed such a great deal of theological energy and passion to this issue.

The poor are defrauded every day, and new burdens and higher prices are imposed. They all misuse the market in their own arbitrary, defiant, arrogant way, as if it were their right and privilege to sell their goods as high as they please without criticism (The Large Catechism).

This study is geared to the lay people within every congregation who are committed to the mission of the church. It assumes not only that they are prepared to follow Christ’s call to love the neighbor, but also that they are willing to give tangible expression to that calling through use of their talents, experiences, and knowledge. Congregations are filled with people who are “economics savvy” and prepared to use their knowledge in addressing the complex causes of the present income disparity.

A five-part video series on this topic is available from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Authors include Ryan Cumming, Tim Huffman, Carter Lindberg, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Jon Pahl, Samuel Torvend, Conrad Braaten, Paul Wee.

What others are saying about the book:

Recovery of Luther’s oft-forgotten voice for socio-economic justice is a welcome gift to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is particularly relevant to the growing edge of Lutheranism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America where poverty is faced every day. Lutherans do have a public, grace-infused voice, and these forgotten texts will give us some of the language to help shape the conversation of God’s ongoing mission of reconciliation, restoration, and justice in the world.
Stephen P. Bouman, Executive Director, Domestic Mission Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

A planet under siege from many directions will greet the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Pope Francis, in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, has responded powerfully to the collective challenges we all face. How will Lutherans engage them—economically, morally, and theologically—and further the Reformation anew? The Forgotten Luther: Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation isn’t the only resource, but it is an indispensable one.
Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

As Martin Luther addressed the crises of his day on the basis of Scripture, so must we today. In tandem with the international project, “Radicalizing Reformation—Provoked by the Bible and Today’s Crises,” this book provides important historical and theological perspectives for engaging urgent contemporary economic justice challenges.
Karen Bloomquist former director of theological studies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran World Federation

We Anglicans have been shaped by Luther’s pioneering theology and biblical studies since the sixteenth century. But we must admit it is news, and indeed encouraging news to us—shared in this book—of the depth and importance of his pioneering in socio-economic fields that our world badly needs to recall and revive. We, too, had forgotten, or maybe never knew, how strong his passions were for economic and social justice. We celebrate the revival of such a central theme of his life and work.
iLoren B. Mead, Episcopal priest, educator, consultant, author, and founder of the Alban Institute

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The Forgotten LutherThe Forgotten Luther

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ISBN: 978-1-942304-17-3
114 Pages
Size: 6 x 9
Binding: Perfectbound
Publisher: Lutheran University Press
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