A Message from Pastor Harvey
Greetings My Brothers and Sisters..
Whether one should flee from a deadly plague, by Martin Luther (1527)
The Bubonic Plague had returned to Europe in 1527. Over the several waves of the Bubonic Plague in Europe, around 25 million people died, 1/3 the population of Europe.
There was no understanding of the cause of the plague in those days, but it was worse in the crowded cities. The University of Wittenberg had been closed. People were fleeing the city. And, at the time, the Elector of Saxony urged Martin Luther to flee the city as well.
Some were saying that the population of the cities should remain in place because the plague was God’s judgment and punishment on the people. In other words, these false prophets thought you should “stay and take your whipping like a man (or woman). Luther does not directly push back against the idea that God sent the plague to punish sinners. That is probably part and parcel of 16th Century theology as well as the culture.
But what was new with Luther was to admit that we humans can’t know the mind of God and therefore we should be silent about these things. In other words, Luther could not say that the plague was or was not sent by God as judgment. But Luther went on to say that by the reasoning that people ought to stay in the middle of the plague and accept their punishment was as foolish as saying people should not flee a house on fire or try to put the fire out.
Rather, Luther urged those who served in public office as well as pastors to remain at their place of duty. By virtue of their office, they have a duty to care for the people.
As a general rule, Luther wrote, “Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man (woman) who wants to help put out the burning city,”
As you can see from the phrase that I’ve boldened, even in a plague or pandemic, Luther believes the teaching of Jesus to love your neighbors and care for them is a constant.
Blessings to all of you.
Your Shepherd in Christ,
(And please, if you have any questions, please call me or the church.)