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The Impact of Martin Luther and the Reformation on Modern Revivalism

Luther’s Personal Faith in the Miraculous

Luther believed in miracles and saw miraculous answers to his prayers. He even formulated a divine healing service for Lutheran congregations. When his friend and colleague, Philip Melanchthon, was dying, Luther prayed over him, quoting all the Scriptures he could call to mind related to faith and healing. He then took Melanchthon by the hand and said, “Be of good courage Philip, you shall not die.” Melanchthon immediately revived and soon regained his health. He later said, “I should have been a dead man had I not been recalled from death itself by the coming of Luther.”5 The noted historian, Philip Schaff said, “He lived and moved in the heart of the Scriptures; and this was the secret of his strength.”6 Luther himself once said,

What greater wickedness, what greater contempt of God is there than not believing His promise? For what is this but to make God a liar or to doubt that He is truthful?—that is, to ascribe truthfulness to one’s self but lying and vanity to God.7

 

Luther & Anti-Semitism

Luther made unfortunate and inexcusable statements about the Jews of his day, which must be recognized and rejected by modern believers. However, the attempt by some contemporary writers to paint Luther as a primary cause of modern anti-Semitism and a reason for Jewish hatred in Nazi Germany goes beyond the historical record and may well be fueled by a sinister attempt to discredit Luther and, thereby, rob the Church of the vital and critical contributions he made.

 

Luther’s Love & Support for the Jewish People

Luther once stated that he admired—indeed, loved—the Jewish people. In his book of 1523 entitled That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, he attempted to win Jews to the gospel message of Christ, and in that context he also advocated humane treatment for them in the face of widespread anti-Semitism throughout Europe. He reminded Christians that Jesus Christ was born a Jew and that “we in turn ought to treat the Jews in a brotherly fashion.” Excommunicated and persecuted by the medieval church, Luther obviously identified with the Jews in their suffering. He wrote,

The Jews are blood-relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.

Luther continued to support the baptized Jew, Bernard, when he fell on hard times in 1531 and had to leave his family because of his debt. Luther and Melanchthon each cared for one of his children and continued this support for many years. Even though it posed a financial hardship for him, Luther said he did it because “he felt obligated to do good to Bernard as a member of the Jewish church.” Bernard also served as a messenger for Luther on numerous occasions.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2009

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century. www.eddiehyatt.com

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