Luther on the rearing and education of children

05 Jul

“…Luther makes no allowance for a ‘self-made’ man as did contemporary pedagogues like Erasmus.  Any hope for transformation and improvement could come only from the gift of faith and the righteousness of God.

Yet Luther’s understanding of a child as simultaneously sinner and saint marked a divergence from Augustinian thought.  While Luther, like Augustine, believed in children’s inherited sinfulness, he also praised children as the very model of a pure and simple faith.  The sinner in a child deserved the hand of sharp discipline but the saint in the child merited words of highest praise.  This is not to say that there was a perfect balance between discipline and praise.  By modern standards, discipline was indeed severe, but the Evangelicals believed that overindulging a child was worse: it would result in the child’s sinful self having free reign and would produce a self-centered individual who was unwilling to submit to authority.  Luther believed that young children had a certain spiritual advantage over adults in that they had not yet begun to rationalize their sin and were therefore more receptive to the working of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, it was important that, early on, parents impress upon their children a proper understanding of the Law and the Gospel.”

(pp. 67,68 in Korcok, Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future, italics mine


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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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