Much recent Luther scholarship has focused upon his incisive use of economic metaphors to describe the (deceptively) profound daily actions of Christian believers. Over at Lutheran Forum , Sarah Wilson reports on her discovery of a whimsical, yet well-crafted, plan by Luther to convey Scripture’s “riches” to children:

“ . . . the heart may grasp the whole sum of Christian truth under two headings or, as it were, in two pouches, namely, faith and love. Faith’s pouch may have two pockets. Into one pocket we put the part of faith that believes that through the sin of Adam we are all corrupt, sinners, and under condemnation, Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5. Into the other we put the part of faith that trusts that through Jesus Christ we are all redeemed from this corruption, sin, and condemnation, Romans 5:15-21, John 3:16-18. Love’s pouch may also have two pockets. Into the one put this piece, that we should serve and do good to everyone, even as Christ has done for us, Romans 13. Into the other put this piece, that we should gladly endure and suffer all kinds of evil.

When a child begins to understand this it should be encouraged to bring home verses of Scripture from the sermon and to repeat them at mealtime for the parents, even as they formerly used to recite their Latin. And then these verses should be put into the pouches and pockets, just as pennies, groschen, and gulden are put into a purse. For instance, let faith’s pouch be for the gulden, and into the first pocket let this verse go: Romans 5:12, ‘sin came into the world through one man and death through sin.’ Also this one: Psalm 51:5, ‘Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ These are two Rhenish gulden for the first pocket. Into the other pocket go the Hungarian gulden, for example this text, Romans 4:25, ‘Jesus was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.’ Again John 1:29, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ These would be two good Hungarian gulden for the second pocket . . . .

“And let no one think himself too wise for such child’s play. Christ, to train men, had to become man himself. If we wish to train children, we must become children with them.”


Indeed, if Matthew 18:3 is to be believed, the benefits to becoming “like a little child” go far beyond the pragmatics of conveying the faith to youth . . .

Articles by Robert Saler

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