Skip to comments.Lutherans study German roots
Posted on 11/03/2007 10:38:41 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
In spring 2005, the Rev. Carol Solovitz, pastor of Zumbro Lutheran, had the honor of preaching the English service for two weeks in Wittenberg, Germany, in Martin Luther's church: the Stadtkirche (city church).
Inspired by her visit, members of Zumbro met in April 2006 with the prospect of forming a tour to Germany. By September 2006 -- a year in advance -- the trip was sold out. On Sept. 10, 2007, a full bus left the church parking lot on its way to the Minneapolis airport, flying Iceland Air to Frankfurt.
On our first day, we toured the Wartburg, where Luther was the first to translate the New Testament into German, providing the basis for modern German. Our next stop was the city of Erfurt, where Luther took his monastic vows and later was ordained as a priest. Other sites in the Luther area included Lutherstadt Eisleben, where we visited the birth and death houses, the church where he was baptized and the church where he gave his last sermons. In Leipzig, we visited the St. Thomas church, where Lutheran composer Johann Sebastian Bach was the director of music for 27 years. In Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the center of Reformation activity, we visited the Castle Church, where Luther placed the 95 theses on the door in 1517.
During a three-day stay in Berlin, we toured the city seeing such famous sites as the Brandenburg Gate, the Capitol building, Potsdamer Platz, the Ku-Damm, the Olympic Stadium and the home of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran minister, who during World War II was a central figure in the Protestant church's struggle against Nazism.
Continuing south, we made a stop in Rochester's sister city of Moosburg, staying two nights in the small community of Wartenberg. We further toured Munich; attended a folk music presentation and had dinner in the Hofbrauhaus; toured Bavarian countryside and the Alps; and made stops at Neuschwanstein castle and the Wies church, staying at the delightful hotel Alte Post in Oberammergau. On our last day, we viewed Germany's largest Lutheran church in Ulm, which seats 20,000 people and has the highest church steeple in the world.
The morning after our farewell dinner at the historic Hotel Ritter in Heidelberg, we left Germany with memories of the most beautiful, sunny, comfortable, fall weather, great four-star hotels, excellent meals, great step-on guides and an exposure to the rich heritage of our church.
Occupying the shelves of the world's libraries, more books were written by and about Martin Luther than any other human being except Jesus of Nazareth. Exposing the scandal of the sale of indulgences, Luther protested the purchase of certificates that allowed a specified number of days of permitted sins for paying a price, which also would allow release of deceased relatives and friends from purgatory. In his teachings, he stressed justification by faith, the universal priesthood of believers and the supremacy of scripture, which form the cornerstone of Protestantism.
Luther wrote music, including the theme song of the Reformation, "A Mighty Fortress is our God," and started the custom of giving presents at Christmas, honoring Christ instead of the saints. He also was the first to use lights on Christmas trees, using candles to replace the stars he noticed shining through the evergreens at night. Today, there are more than 330 million Protestants throughout the world.
Participants in the tour included Clarence and Donna Baalson, Lyle and Dorothy Bacon, Howard and Barbara Borgen, Rachel Boyum, Don and Pat Butters, Gordon Christianson, Sonja Galstad, Cecilia Gulson, Dick and Majel Hall, Guy and Sharon Hostetter, Lance and Carol Jacobson, Tom and Jo Johnson, Ken and Nancy Kaufman, LeRoy and Jo-Anne Larson, Bette Lee, Harris Madsen, Tim and Sharryn Melin, Duane and Addie Muri, Loren and Carol Nelson, Kay Penstone, Noel and Ann Peterson, Gladys Roberts, Delores Sinclair, Carol and Steve Solovitz, Bob and Jean Streyle, Lois Swanson and Jill Wright. I led the tour.
About the writer: I was a German teacher at John Marshall High School from 1967 to 1998 and chair of the Foreign Language Department. For 34 years, I took German students on summer tours to Germany.
Getting there: We traveled by coach from the Zumbro Lutheran Church parking lot to the Humphrey Terminal, then flew Iceland Air to Frankfurt.
Where you stayed: We stayed at the SAS Radisson in Erfurt, the Country Park Hotel in Brehna, the Holiday Inn-Mitte in Berlin, the Reiter Braeu in Wartenberg, the Alte Post in Oberammergau and the Ibis Hotel in Heidelberg. Most of our hotels were four-star hotels.
Where to eat: We had breakfast and dinner daily in the hotels; lunch was on our own.
Side trips: None -- we stuck to the itinerary, but missed Worms because of a traffic jam.
Travel tips: Pay attention to all the tips given out by the tour company or the tour leader. This group paid close attention; therefore, there were no major problems.
A bit misleading, as the vast majority of German Protestants supported Hitler, but then I guess if Pope Pius XII can be falsely accused of being "Hitler's Pope", I guess any sort of distortion of the truth is acceptable nowadays.
Supported Hitler? Heck, some German Protestants signed on to the Nazi Protestant Church: http://wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/caseforgermany/cfg14.html
Strange that we never hear about that isn’t it?
And some Orthodox priests in Russia worked for the KGB, turning in other priests who ended up in concentrations camps where they were either worked to death or executed. The communists exterminated at least 30,000,000 people. One wonders why communism was so successful in an Orthodox country. Is there something inherently collectivist and dictatorial about Orthodoxy?
I think there’s a difference, however. The Russian Orthodox Church was anti-Bolshevist even if some priests and bishops co-operated with them out of fear. The German Protestants I’m talking about actually AGREED with Hitler and WANTED to serve Nazism.
It is one thing to be patriotic. Quite another to seek the extermination of people. You want to use the exceptions to condemn the whole. That is the fallacy of emphasis--emphasising a small part and ignoring the rest. You haven't mentioned anything about those Lutherans who were very much opposed to Hitler. Some of them ended up executed by the state.
We in America take democratic institutions for granted. But those institutions were only beginning in Germany after WWI. The roots were not very deep. And the Nazis easily ripped them out of the ground.
Russia has no history of democratic institutions. There was an attempt after the collapse of the Soviet Union to establish those institutions. But the jury is still out. Will Russia go back to its long history of autocratic rule and dictatorship? I think it is too early to say.
“You want to use the exceptions to condemn the whole.”
Clearly not. I said “some”. If you’re going to attack what I said, then at least get what I said right. Thanks.
“That is the fallacy of emphasis—emphasising a small part and ignoring the rest.”
“some” Did you see the “some”?
“You haven’t mentioned anything about those Lutherans who were very much opposed to Hitler.”
“some” Did you see the “some”?
“Some of them ended up executed by the state.”
Now you’re using “Some”? Okay, so why didn’t you see it when I used it?
“In spring 2005, the Rev. Carol Solovitz, pastor of Zumbro Lutheran”
Must be ELCA Lutherans. You won’t find woman pastors in the conservative LCMS(Missouri Synod) or the WELS(Wisc. Synod)
Because I assumed that the goal of your argument was really to malign all Lutherans, despite the use of "some". In other words: see, because some did this, the whole thing is bad. Isn't that the usual focus of your arguments?
Your arguments don't seem to have any appreciation of Protestantism, and yet those arguments take place in a context of religious toleration established by American Protestants. I really don't see any record of toleration like this in the Orthodox world, despite my appreciation of much of Orthodox theology.
“Because I assumed that the goal of your argument was really to malign all Lutherans...”
Where did I even mention Lutherans? You are imagining quite a bit here.
“In other words: see, because some did this, the whole thing is bad. Isn’t that the usual focus of your arguments?”
No. Again, you are imagining quite a bit here.
“Your arguments don’t seem to have any appreciation of Protestantism, and yet those arguments take place in a context of religious toleration established by American Protestants.”
I have no idea of what you are talking about. What does any of that have to do with “German Christians” idolizing Hitler? Nothing.
“I really don’t see any record of toleration like this in the Orthodox world, despite my appreciation of much of Orthodox theology.”
Again, what does any of that have to do with “German Christians” and their idolizing of Hitler?
Again, you are trying to paint a picture of Protestants "idolizing Hitler." What about the Orthodox Christians idolozing Joseph Stalin, the former Orthodox seminary student? Stalin killed millions more than Hitler, and yet you give Orthodox Christians a clean slate.
Nazism wasn't a Christian movement. The swastika is an ancient symbol in religions such as Hinduism. You are simply attempting to condemn Western Christians. It was Western Christian nations like Great Britain and the United States that defeated Nazism.
The Orthodox East, particularly Holy Russia, is full of atrocities. Holy Russian was not Holy.
The article you posted to was about Martin Luther. What in the name any any reasoned argument does that have to Nazism? The only reason you posted a comment totally irrelevant to the article is to malign Lutherans.
“Again, you are trying to paint a picture of Protestants “idolizing Hitler.””
Incorrect. Only “German Christians”.
“What about the Orthodox Christians idolozing Joseph Stalin, the former Orthodox seminary student?”
The Orthodox didn’t idolize him.
“Stalin killed millions more than Hitler, and yet you give Orthodox Christians a clean slate.”
“German Christians” freely chose to idolize Hitler. The Orthodox did not idolize Stalin.
“Nazism wasn’t a Christian movement. The swastika is an ancient symbol in religions such as Hinduism. You are simply attempting to condemn Western Christians. It was Western Christian nations like Great Britain and the United States that defeated Nazism.”
You are imagining quite a bit here. I never condemned Western Christians. I am a Western Christian, after all.
“The Orthodox East, particularly Holy Russia, is full of atrocities. Holy Russian was not Holy.”
What has any of that got to do with “German Christians”?
“The article you posted to was about Martin Luther.”
Nope. It was about the relationship between the Nazis and “German Christians”. Luther was barely mentioned in the article.
“What in the name any any reasoned argument does that have to Nazism?”
Quite a bit actually. He was held up as a model for “German Christians” because of his German nationalism and anti-semitic writings.
“The only reason you posted a comment totally irrelevant to the article is to malign Lutherans.”
I never even mentioned Lutherans.
Lutherans always have issues with their founder, Martin Luther, who became a violent anti-semite; and with their “German roots,” as the great majority of German Lutherans supported Hitler. Bonhoeffer and others founded the Confessing Church as a protest against the Nazi-Lutheran merger.
I have no prejudice against Lutherans today, but I do question those who market distorted history, such as this tour group.
Protestantism in Europe has always tried to acccomodate itself to the ruling power.The Catholic Church , on the other hand, is a rival of the state. That does not mean that many Catholics, clergy and laity, do not accommodate the state, but that the official Church tries to retain its independence.
“Which is nonsense. You just have to look at Spain under Franco to realize the fallacy of your statement.”
No, all you have to do is look at Spain BEFORE and AFTER Franco to realize the statement is true. Franco was an aberration in modern Europe. His alliance with the Church was not just because of his own Catholicism, but because of the obviious convenience - 3,000 Catholic bishops, priests and nuns were murdered by the communists fighting Franco. OF COURSE THE CHURCH SUPPORTED FRANCO IN RESPONSE TO THAT.
Sorry, RobbyS, I should have pinged you to for the above. My bad!
Funny you should mention Franco. Under his concordant with the Vatican, the Church recovered a large share of the liberties that had been taken away since the French Revolution, including a leading role in education. In anticlerical states, religion is banished from public education. The socialists are now engaged in an effort to take back privileges and to secularize all aspects of society.