Luther and the Care of Souls

I have previously written on the pastoral impulse of the Reformation, the fact that this renewal of the church arose primarily from the earnest desire to care for souls, to see that they be taught the gospel and shown the way to peace with God and eternal life. This is a crucial point.

Just recently I came across another reminder of this truth, as I am re-reading Roland Bainton’s wonderfully written biography of Luther, Here I Stand, this time with my sons. Bainton describes how Luther’s conflict with Rome began over indulgences, a practice which at that time funded his own university, his church and his position. Bainton writes:

This first blow was certainly not the rebellion of an exploited German against the mulcting of his country by the greedy Italian papacy. However much in after years Luther’s followers may have been motivated by such considerations, his first onslaught was not so prompted. He was a priest responsible for the eternal welfare of his parishioners. He must warn them against spiritual pitfalls, no matter what might happen to the Castle Church and the university.[1]

This should be a central part of the legacy of pastors who arise from the Reformation tradition- care for the eternal welfare of our people, guiding and guarding them on the way to the celestial city.


[1] Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Meridian, 1995), 55-56.

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