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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Luther's war on poverty

Wittenberg principles apply today

When Martin Luther arrived in Wittenberg in 1508, he was struck by the large numbers of beggars looking for handouts on the street corners. He didn't like it one bit: Why should some people be so poor that they were forced to humiliate themselves in this way?

Anyone who read Scripture, he held, should understand immediately that God didn't tolerate a situation in which some people had more material possessions than they needed while others went hungry.

And so he acted: Luther called a meeting of the town council to address the situation of growing poverty in Wittenberg, made worse by an economic downturn.


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