Berlin, Germany—A UPF discussion of Martin Luther and the Reformation was so interesting that it went on two hours longer than planned.
The program titled “500 Years Ago—Luther, Today—We: Looking at the Word of God—New Challenges, New Opportunities” was presented at the Berlin Bahá'í community center on September 30, 2017.
UPF members and guests from Hamburg and Berlin had a very enjoyable discussion about the Reformation—as it was in the past and how it is today.
The purpose was not to hear about Luther's life or his famous theses; these facts are well known to all. We wanted to know something more precise: How does God relate to humankind and vice versa? What kind of relationship did Martin Luther have with God?
Heinrich Krcek, a Catholic theologian from Austria, took as his starting point the various ways in which the word “credo” can be translated. Through this, he showed us how a relationship of trust between God and humankind, and especially between God and Luther, developed. Encouraged by the openness of our speaker and his easily understandable language, we asked many interesting questions and offered comments at the end of the presentation.
Sigrun Botembe, a teacher of ethics, talked about the era in which Luther lived. News events today are broadcast around the world within minutes. How much did Luther know about contemporary events? Although the new medium of the printing press helped, it cannot be compared with today’s information systems. What was happening in the world during Luther’s lifetime? Did these events influence and motivate him?
Ms. Botembe considered the enormous geographical discoveries, conflict with Islam, rivalries among the different European powers, the Inquisition, conditions in the Vatican, as well as other issues. At the end, we had a greater understanding of Luther as a child of his time.
Ulrich Ganz, a representative of UPF-Hamburg, gave the third presentation. He focused on the role of women and the family and expressed the opinion that the marriage between Luther and Katharina von Bora was a significant aspect of the Reformation. This brought us back to current issues, and we realized that reformation is an ongoing process in which all of us must engage.