Annual Topic 2011
Reformation and Freedom
Freedom – this word of desire has shaped Protestant Christianity from its very beginning. Reformation and freedom are inextricably linked in word and faith, in action and attitude. This becomes programmatic in Martin Luther's essay "On the Freedom of a Christian", written in 1520. In this core treatise of the Reformation, Luther defines the character of this freedom: "A Christian is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one"
Freedom from the world and for the world
Protestant freedom has a double determination: as freedom from the world and as freedom for the world. Human beings are called towards freedom, in order to lead a right and appropriate life. God does not want incapable followers or restrained men and women, but mature Christians who live in responsibility for each other. Thus, Christian freedom has its origin in baptism. With baptism, new life begins – a life as a child of God.
Those who have been baptised are called towards a life as children of God, in freedom and love, in responsibility and faith- "You have been liberated for freedom, do not become the servants of men", Paul appeals to the first parishioners of the Christian church. This liberation for freedom in baptism is irrevocable, because it is God's freedom for humankind.
Freedom of conscience, distinctive until today
During the Reformation, Luther's call for freedom was heard in many ways, for example regarding the relationship between the individual and the authorities of the church and the world. A consequence of the freedom of the individual is the freedom of conscience that shapes our co-existence in state, church and society. Luther's claim of conscience against the authorities of the state and the church during the Diet of Worms in 1521 is a core scene with great influence far beyond the context of the church.
The re-discovery of the freedom of the individual, which came hand in hand with mature Christian life, made it possible to face the fear of the Middle Ages of demons and dark powers. In the global age 500 years later, the fear of poverty, affliction and the loss of material security becomes the daily challenge of freedom. But freedom is also besieged by the prevailing fear of terrorism and war. It remains the task of free people to walk out of these fears and to lead the life of a free Christian, in the service for one's neighbour as well as in responsibility for the world.