Reading Luther on Plague in a Technological Age

Per Anderson

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 7/1/1993

Issue: Faith, Science, Technology (Vol. 13, No 3, Summer, 1993)

In the introduction to his recent Luther anthology, Timothy Lull commends the reformer’s work as a constructive resource for contemporary theology and ethics. If we read Luther with generosity and imagination, this complex thinker may contribute more to current debates than counterpoint. This essay analyzes Luther’s fascinating statement on plague as a proposal for thought and action at the limits of human powers. For people formed by the structures of a technological culture, Luther’s plague ethic is not a real possibility. The theistic soteriological system that supports Luther’s norms has been supplanted by the technological. Yet, in a time of “postmodern” reconsideration of technology, Luther’s ideas deserve attention. Luther sets forth a basic religious question that the technological project poses for Christians.

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