Brandon Dutcher | May 22, 2009
What Luther Can Teach Us Today
Monday will mark the 488th anniversary of The Edict of Worms, the famous decree issued against Martin Luther. But what can Luther teach us today?
According to OCPA distinguished fellow J. Rufus Fears, we as Americans can learn a lot from Luther. Essentially, the Reformation was a debate over freedom. Luther's 95 theses amounted to a revolution against the established authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Although not initially political in nature, Luther's ideological reform movement was indeed a catalyst for the emergence of nationalism within the Holy Roman Empire. "Once men and women began to question the authority of the church," Dr. Fears says, "they began to question other aspects of authority."
Luther's battle for Christian liberty was an example to men and women of the medieval world. Although his Reformation radically reshaped medieval society, Luther himself was a beacon for conservative thought. He stressed individual subordination to the secular authority, but only when that authority acted justly. Almost five hundred years after the fact, there are still lessons to be learned from this Augustinian monk. Luther's revolutionary movement against the corruption of the Catholic Church and in defense of individual liberty is similar in many ways to the founding of our own nation. Luther's 95 theses must have had a similar effect on the Pope as did the Declaration of Independence on King George III.
Dr. Fears' course on "The History of Freedom" -- including his lecture entitled "Luther and the Protestant Reformation" -- is available here.
Senior Vice President
Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine, Forbes.com, Mises.org, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.