The significance of Luther for the crises of today: On the occasion of the 500 years of the Reformation


  • Vítor Westhelle Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago



Luther, Reformation, Migration, Oeconomia, Capitalism, Coram deo/mundo


The 500 anniversary of the event that marks the beginning of the Reformation is an opportunity to revisit some of its radical claims. Among them is that liberation and salvation are related but distinct. As long as we honor the distinction, honored will be the shape Luther’s figure is transfigured into the mold of contemporary crises. It is about presence, regardless of the fact whether Luther is named or not. At the break of the 21st century, the most significant social phenomenon is arguably migration. The Reformer viewed migration in two diametrically different ways. This difference pertains to the two perspectives that inform Luther’s theology. One pertains to our relationship to God and detachment from the entrapments of the world. The other refers to our life
in the world, particularly as it concerns the economy. About a century and a half ago, in the high of industrial capitalism, Karl Marx found in Luther the basic clue to analyze the emergence of capital. This article presents thus an analysis of a treatise of Luther on usury that Marx discusses at length in the first volume of Das Kapital. As it was for Marx, Luther’s transfiguration happens in the voices of protest and resistance today.


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Como Citar

Westhelle, V. (2017). The significance of Luther for the crises of today: On the occasion of the 500 years of the Reformation. Revista Pistis Praxis, 9(2), 427–439.