Dear members and friends of our ELS:
October makes us think of two discoveries—one, sort of, the other a rediscovery. The day of Christopher Columbus (October 12) still denotes a great find, even if he was not the first European explorer to arrive at the American continent. The second one we can call a rediscovery, epitomized by the great day of Reformation (October 31). A little-known German monk would emerge after his door-nailing incident to promote the purity of the Gospel of Christ, long hidden under the established church system. Martin Luther was nine years old when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The whole era seemed ripe for discoveries.
Historians can debate what discoveries have greater impact on world societies. We can hardly imagine what it must have been like for the first Europeans who traveled to America. Here was a land of promise, with many trees but open spaces, and a wealth of resources and opportunities.
The “rediscovery” day of this month contains a more profound blessing. Where would we be if the October 31, 1517, Reformation event had not happened in the Saxon town of Wittenberg, Germany? Here began the epic journey of the reformer to guide souls back to Scripture alone for free salvation from sin through faith in the grace of Christ, and for all truly divine teaching in the church. Not only Lutherans, but also Protestants in general, celebrate Luther’s lead on this.
In the exploration and development of America, more and more blessings came to light. Think of the treasured freedoms we have today as a republic and as outlined in our constitution. So also with Luther’s “rediscovery” of the Gospel of Christ, came a whole host of blessings. We list some here while expressing sincere thanks to our gracious Heavenly Father.
- Luther’s vision of society as organized under three estates: family, church, and state.
- Innovative and effective education programs for all citizens, not excluding girls.
- The collection of Lutheran chorales as authored by Luther, not least of which are “A Mighty Fortress is our God” and “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice.”
- The translation of Holy Scripture in the language of his people and the publication of Christian literature.
- Luther’s emphasis on doctrinal precision and boldly contending for the faith, including insistence on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.
- His legacy–the Small Catechism, a 1529 book of Bible instruction used by 20+ generations of students.
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President