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Roland Martin - Issue #63


Roland Martin

October 31 · Issue #63 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

Martin Luther - thoughts from my school chaplain on Reformation Anniversary Day

Be relevant
We are always trying to stress the importance of relevance at Freemen’s and this week has seen our accomplished Chaplain, Rev’d. Jon Prior, lead by example this week with an inspiring service address marking the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation which has stimulated this week’s edition…
In Jon’s inimitable way, he began the address by pointing out that the 2015 Playmobil figure of Luther (which he - of course! - received for a Christmas present that year) was the fastest selling Playmobil figure of all time. Yes, really. Beat Darth Vader hands down. Go figure.
My son was a huge fan of Playmobil when he was younger and I fear that he missed out on this one amidst the zoo keepers, sailors and bank robbers …
With a Playmobil figure of Luther at their disposal, Go Chatter put together a nifty little potted history of Luther’s life that provides a pretty good resource for occasions like this, which of course, was not lost on Jon …
Unpacking the theology
Our Chaplain spent some time on four of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses (1, 6, 76 and 91, if you want some homework) before linking to Romans 3 (‘This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…’) and the concept of sola fide (‘faith alone’) as being the key argument underpinning Luther’s theological argument. 
Although as an English specialist, I would argue that reformers were a bit behind the curve - radical Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) delivered some key criticisms of the selling of indulgences - but I suppose that it was a good thing that Luther got there in the end …
Be radical
The success of the address for me was the way that Jon spun things on its head, putting the theological message to one side (Jon is always very sensitive to his audience, allowing for alternative views) at the end to give a relevant message to the teenage audience; namely encouraging them to be prepared to stand up for what they believe when they feel the need so to do. Citing The Guardian‘s absorbing and provocative weekend piece which makes some very interesting observations, not least about social media ('Facebook is many things, but a community it is not…’), Jon urged his assembled flock to be prepared to go against the flow. 
Of course, some might say that urging a group of teenagers to stand up for a cause could be asking for trouble; however, if they are the ‘good, brave causes’ referenced by Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger and suggested by Jon in his talk, I would suggest that the advice was on the right side of radical …
  1. Martin Kettle’s interesting piece from the same paper a few days ago linking Martin Luther with Brexit is also worth a read…. 
  2. There are, as I write, only eleven Martin Luther Playmobil figures available on Amazon …
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