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date: 27 June 2017

Martin Luther in Latin America

Summary and Keywords

Latin America has not been a well known field of Luther reception. Historic Latin American interpretations of Luther respond to ideological issues as well as historical circumstances. The manner in which he has been portrayed in these very large regions of Spanish and Portuguese inheritance during the last 500 years has derived mainly from the interest and perspective of the Roman Catholic Church. The interpretation of Luther derived from the Council of Trent (1545–1563) prevailed in Latin America for, at least, 400 years. Then, only a defaced delineation of Luther was transmitted. He was the synonym of evil, transgression, defiance, immorality—the archenemy par excellence—and held responsible for causing disorder and unsteadiness in Europe. particularly named as the culprit for the broken unity of the Western church. This portrayal continued well into the 19th century, when religious confessions other than Catholic penetrated and extended. Then the figure of Luther grew in importance and was revaluated, even from within Catholicism. So, from the 16th to the early 20th century, he moved from the paradigmatic heretic to a Christian theologian and historical figure. Today, the developing Lutheran tradition has reflected upon theological, ethical, and political issues in a hemisphere increasingly marked by confesional plurality, diverse Christian denominations, Pentecostal churches, charismatic groups, and mixed Hispanic, indigenous, Asian, and Afro-American influences.

Keywords: Martin Luther, Latin America, heretic, Roman Catholic Church, Counter-Reformation, Protestantism, Catholicism

The Need to Understand Luther in Latin America

In 1517, Martin Luther could not have known the magnitude of the American hemisphere, barely evident then to European knowledge. Neither could he have any understanding of the importance that this vast continent would obtain in Western history. Even less could he suspect that for the next 500 years his name and theology would reverberate in those parts of the world, embedded in its social and cultural experiences.

The figure of Martin Luther in Latin America1 was built over a long period of time in historiographic and theological perspective. The manner in which Luther has been portrayed in these regions has derived mainly from sources produced by the powerful elites and literate few. For most of this period it has been shaped by the interest of the Roman Catholic Church. The way in which his figure has been interpreted has also varied through centuries; from being considered for a long period of time an “emissary of the devil,” he was later defined as a “religious genius whose life and work changed the paths of Christianity and of the Church.”2

In the mid-20th century, Juan A. Ortega y Medina admonished Latin American researchers to ignore these previous misconceptions and analyze Luther and his doctrine thoroughly. He observed there were then practically no Latin American scholars in these regions able to portray him well.3 In the prologue to his book Lutero en España y América española, the jesuit historian Ricardo V. Feliu asserted that this work “more than to the Spanish audience, was destined to readers in Latin America, where different religious confessions than Catholic would penetrate and extend.”4 At the end of the 1970s, the outlook had expanded. The Spanish specialist Ricardo García Villoslada pointed out that the figure of Luther had grown in importance and was being revaluated from within Catholicism with a sympathy unknown before the Second Vatican Council.5

Knowledge of Luther is even more important in Latin America today, now that it is connected to the whole world and in need of understanding and insight from the developing Lutheran tradition, which has reflected upon theological, ethical, and political issues in a manner distinct from Catholicism. This is particularly crucial in a hemisphere increasingly marked by confesional plurality, diverse Christian denominations, Pentecostal churches, charismatic groups, and mixed Hispanic, indigenous, Asian, and Afro-American influences. Latin America is a space where the expression “reconciled multiplicity” makes sense. The truth of the Divine Word is presented in different manners and experienced in many churches that are mutually enriched.6

Historic Latin American interpretations of Luther respond to ideological issues as well as historical circumstances. The countries colonized by Spain and Portugal in the 16th century now carry 500 years of a Catholic spiritual baggage in which for long periods the aggressive nature of the so-called Counter-Reformation fomented hatred against the “incorrigible heresiarch” even more. Luther was for Latin American Catholics the synonym of evil, transgression, defiance, and immorality and held responsible for causing disorder and unsteadiness in Europe. The Tridentine interpretation of Luther that prevailed in Latin America sought to neutralize his capacity to harm Catholic conscience by turning him into the archenemy par excellence of everything properly Catholic. This was done by slander, not engagement with doctrinal issues.7 Only a caricature of the reformer was ever represented and so only a defaced delineation of him was transmitted.8 In Latin America, first attacking and negating Luther and then analyzing and understanding him have been scholarly activities but also driven by questions of identity and later nation building.9

There are many reasons to get into a deep study of Luther from the view of Latin America. But, who studies Luther today? Historians, theologians—both Catholic and Protestant—intellectuals, social scientists, philosophers, and writers, inside or outside academic and confessional institutions. Reflecting about Luther and other questions such as the development of Lutheranism in the general scope of Latin America is a broad task worth doing.10 The figure of Luther in the light of Latin American thought, and in the wide perspective of the history of ideas, will be discussed.

Luther’s Reputation before the 20th Century

Luther was never absent from Latin American historiography. Since the 16th century, in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, he has been considered by theologians, historians, and missionaries, especially in Mexico and Peru, where he was particularly named as the culprit of the broken unity of the Western church. Luther’s name appears among the very first works of history written in America. Franciscan Jerónimo de Mendieta’s Historia Eclesiástica Indiana (1559) observes that the great hero of the conquest of Mexico, Hernán Cortés, and the former Augustinian friar Martin Luther were born in the same year (Mendieta claims 1483, though Cortés was actually born in 1485), but to radically different purposes. While Luther is made responsible for the religious fracture in Europe that caused the loss of many souls from the Catholic Church, Cortés brought countless Indian natives, formerly living in darkness and oblivion, to the true faith. Later, Franciscan Diego Valadés’s Rhetorica Christiana (1579) was pleased to confer on Luther the ominous title “Archihereticus Maledictus in Germania.”11

This portrayal continued well into the 19th century, when nevertheless Luther is found as a secondary topic. During the period of independence and nation building, nascent republics searching for unity under Catholicism point out Luther as the original cause of Europe’s pernicious “sectarianism” and “theological contradictions.” While these republics rejected heresy, they had no real understanding of Protestantism in general, let alone Lutheranism in particular. In 1811, during the Mexican war of Independence, the Inquisition imprisoned a man who said that “Luther, despite being a heresiarch, had some good critiques.”12 Here he is mentioned merely in passing but often his acts stand as milestones that changed the course of history. Many authors of the era maintain old stereotypes, but some secular intellectuals show new appreciation for the reformer. Argentinean jurist Juan Bautista Alberdi, for example, said in 1837 that Martin Luther was a herald of representative government.13

Some of this new appreciation for Luther comes from the flow of Protestant immigrants and missionaries to Catholic Latin American countries. These transplants, sometimes with the help of secular revolutionary governments, were interested in opening their countries’ gates to international commerce and securing freedom of worship. These were tepid steps, and countered by conservative Catholic responses that still worked to minimize Luther’s influence.14

References to Luther also abound in newspapers of the era, both conservative and liberal, Catholic and Protestant. If the former showed more familiar virulence, the latter were more appreciative. Liberals and anticlerical movements were searching for inspiration, and found Luther. Positivist Mexican playwrite Porfirio Parra in Lutero: Cuadro dramático en un acto y en verso, attempted to portray Luther’s character and frame of mind, leading up to the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses. The novel Luterito (little Luther) by Colombian Tomás Carrasquilla (1858–1940) doesn’t treat the German reformer himself but identifies the 16th-century figure with the atmosphere and ideological extremes that were experienced during the country’s civil war of 1876–1877 by the priest Casafús, who Carrasquilla labeled as “the new Luther.”15

At the beginning of the 20th century, Luther attracted the attention of top tier writers, such as Nicaraguan Rubén Darío, Cuban José Martí, and the Mexican Amado Nervo. The latter pointedly described Luther as the “man of round and placid face, the enamored of Katharina Bora, the formidable reformer.”16

Even if their engagement was not profound, by now it was warm and even sympathetic, a huge change from previous centuries. Interest in Luther received a great push from evangelical pastor Federico (Fritz) Fliedner, an author born in Germany but “dearly identified with Spain and Latin America.”17 His book Martín Lutero: Emancipador de la conciencia, published in Spanish for the first time in Madrid in 1878, again in 1913, and later in Mexico in 1949 and 1956, describes the life of this “distinguished Augustinian” and aims to amend the “confusion” that “the adversaries of Luther” had promoted in order to “discredit the reformer.” Fliedner’s warm and accesible biography attracted all sorts of readers and offered a positive, larger than life portrait of the former monk, “the brave warrior of God.” Winds of change were starting to dispel the stereotypes that labeled Luther as a demon or a psychopath, derived from the German historians Heinrich S. Denifle and Hartmann Grisar, but the truth is that Latin America still had to wait some years to see that image, if not vanished completely, at least considerably mitigated. As late as 1937, Brazilian Catholic priest Júlio Maria published O Diabo, Lutero e o Protestantismo, which was full of all the unburnt dross of centuries of malicious slander; the book was popular enough to merit reissue in 1950 and had widespread circulation.18

Editions and Studies of Luther from Latin America

In the second half of the 20th century, perception of Luther in Latin America changed, partly due to the Luther translation projects of several Latin American publishers. Until very recently, Luther’s works were generally quoted from secondary sources (Lortz, Lienhard, Congar, Iserloh)19 and there were no reliable biographies available. Reading his works in Spanish and Portuguese allowed some historians and theologians to better comprehend Luther’s towering contributions and legacy. Pierre Mavy’s San Agustín, Lutero, Pascal was published in 1944, and a year later Jacques Maritain’s celebrated essay Tres reformadores: Lutero, Descartes y Rousseau (1929) was printed in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile by Excelsa. This work flowed into Latin American libraries.20 In 1950, Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand, was translated in Buenos Aires by Editorial Sudamericana and afterwards also published in Mexico by La Casa Unida de Publicaciones under the simple title of Lutero. In 1954 the translation of Leonard S. Ingram’s Martín Lutero, el fraile que conmovió al mundo came out in Mexico. Two years later, in 1956, Fondo de Cultura Económica of Mexico published a translation of Lucien Febvre’s 1927 biography Martín Lutero, un destino,21 while in 1959, the Portuguese version of J. A. O’Brien’s book came out as Martinho Lutero: O sacerdote que fundou o Protestantismo. In Mexico, around the same time, Carlos Gerhard translated from Italian the work of Guiseppe Alberigo, La Reforma Protestante: Lutero, Melanchton, Zwinglio y Calvino.

Starting in 1967, Paidós of Argentina published a series of collected works in five volumes, with scholarly prefaces, a project now continued by La Aurora.22 This was done “to allow readers to directly access the significant and still controversial reformer.”23 The edition in Spanish made by Marianne O. Bopp of Luther’s address To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, published by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1977 is also worth mentioning. Likewise, Spanish historians Teófanes Egido and Ricardo García Villoslada,24 among others, made efforts to interpret Luther’s theological contributions from Hispanic culture and context. Although a translation as comprehensive as the American edition of Luther’s works does not exist in Spanish or Portuguese, much has been done to make Luther and his significance accessible to Latin American readers. At present, eagerness to follow this venture has not ceased, as is evident in the interest that exists in countries like Brazil to translate and publish the work of theologians such as Helmar Junghans (1931–2010) and Hans Martin Barth (b. 1939), renowned specialists on Luther and his theology, and in Argentina that of Hans Joachim Iwand (1899–1968).25

A New Perspective

Beginning in the 1960s, Luther has been considered as a resource for answering social and confessional questions in the Latin American context. Studies of Luther and his theology have come from the whole spectrum of ecclesiastical communities and have mostly lost the former aspect of confessional confrontation.

The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), which opened the Catholic Church to ecumenical dialogue, renewed interest in learning about Luther and his theology in Latin America, beginning an ongoing assessment of the Reformation as a historical event and as a period of crisis in Christianity. It also favored a comprehensive dialogue between Catholic and Lutheran theologies that persists—albeit with ups and downs—today.

Originating around 1968, liberation theology, an originally Catholic interpretation of Christian faith emanating from the experience of the poor,26 drew upon Luther and his writings. Liberation theologians recognized Luther’s teachings against poverty and inequality, and in favor of education and emancipation.27 Interdisciplinary approaches were sought (economics, sociology, history, philosophy, and literature) to better understand Luther’s personality and acts. The connection often drew upon dated themes in Luther scholarship: Luther as a champion of liberty of conscience, a hero for the German states, a contender against authoritarism, a father of the Modern era, a rebel against the oppression of a decadent church, the man who defended free spirit, the patriot who allied with the common people against Roman rule, etc.

Among liberation theologians who appreciated Luther, the Brazilian Franciscan Leonardo Boff (b. 1938) stands out.28 Nevertheless, as Josep Ignasi Saranyana and Carmen Alejos Grau state: “in the dialogue with Catholicism, Lutherans29 clearly have gone further, theologically speaking […] especially concerning common approaches with Catholic liberation theology.”30 Protestant debate on liberation theology has had a widespread echo in Latin America. In the 1980s, Argentinean Lee Brummel analyzed Luther’s hermeneutics to understand poverty. Brazilian Lutheran pastor and German-educated professor of theology Martin Dreher has written abundantly on the topic. While not properly a theologian of liberation, he was in a dialogue with the movement and offered to the conversation insights into Luther’s Theology of the Cross—something he felt increasingly relevant for Latin America.31 Since Vatican II consistent opportunities to engage with Luther and his teaching on various topics have taken place throughout Latin America in congresses and seminars, as well as in pastoral conferences. Although today “progressive currents indebted to the Second Vatican Council and the Episcopal meeting in Medellín, Colombia (CELAM II), as well as experiences in Christian and popular base communities and liberation theology, have been largely relegated to a rather marginal institutional role,”32 studies of Luther have strikingly carried on.33

Likewise, in his 1985 La historia del cristianismo en América Latina, Lutheran theologian Hans-Jürgen Prien pointed out that, outside evangelical Christianity, biblical studies were underdeveloped among Latin American theologians and that biblical scholars who had studied in Europe or in the United States were superior to the locally trained. In 1974, evangelical Ecuadorian theologian René Padilla had also criticized this lack in Lutheran formation.34 In recent years, Latin American studies of Luther have originated from Protestant institutions such as the Fraternidad Teológica Latinoamericana (Latin American Theological Fraternity), founded in 1970, the Facultad de Teología de la Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil (IECLB) (Faculty of Theology of the Lutheran Confessional Church in Brazil) of São Leopoldo, established in 1946, and the Facultad Luterana de José C. Paz (Lutheran Faculty José C. Paz) in Argentina, whose ISEDET continues to this day and is the seat of the biggest Protestant library in Latin America. To these can be added the Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (DEI) (Ecumenical Department of Research) of San José de Costa Rica, the Comunidad Teológica de México (Theological Community of Mexico), the Instituto Pastoral Latinoamericano (Pastoral Latin American Institute) of Quito, Ecuador, and several more.35 Luther has attracted commentary from a range of Latin American historians, theologians, sociologists, and even psychologists who have dialogued directly with important European interlocutors, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jürgen Moltmann, Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, and Marc Lienhard, as well as with historians such as Jean Delumeau and Heiko Oberman, among others. Furthermore, theology in America and Europe has benefited from the exchange of researchers, who have lectured in universities and theological centers on both sides of the Atlantic. In 20th- and 21st-century Latin America, Luther has been treated with a critical, academic spirit, bringing into perspective both positive and negative aspects of his personality and with the intent to truly understand and explain his work. The significant recent growth of Protestantism in Latin America has generated a great interest not only in Luther as the originator of the Protestant confession and one of its founding teachers, but also in the origin of evangelical confession and in its principal dogmatic foundations.

Catholics, too, inspired by the likes of German Dominican priest Otto Hermann Pesch, who admitted in 1982 that Lutheran thought has made important contributions to Catholic theology, have done much to aid in understanding Luther and the Reformation.36 Catholic research on Luther in Latin America still has much to offer in bringing together previously considered studies and sources and exploring them from the practices, the faith, and the historical background of this region.

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, very interesting articles on diverse religious topics appeared in several journals, some of them from Catholic institutions. Many of them comprised reflections about Luther and his theology. Some examples that stand out are the Boletín Teológico (Theological bulletin), of the Theologic Latin American Fraternity, published in Mexico; Cuadernos de Teología (Theology notebooks) of ISEDET in Argentina, the Revista Latinoamericana de Teología (Latin American journal of theology) of the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, and Estudos Teológicos (Theological studies) of São Leopoldo, in Brasil, to mention just a few. In 1983, to commemorate the birth of Luther, many unprecedented international, interconfessional, and interdisciplinary meetings were held, one of whose objectives was to examine the significance of Luther for interreligious and intercultural conversation.37 Likewise, publications on the reformer considerably increased in Latin America. The Revista Ecclesiastica Xaveriana of Colombia dedicated a special number to the reformer, as did the Revista Latinoamericana of El Salvador, from a Catholic liberationist perspective. The Presbyterian review El Faro also devoted all its issues that year to pay tribute to Luther.

The 1983 remembrance inspired works aimed at all audiences in Latin America, like El evangelista de la gracia de Dios, Martín Lutero, by David J. Calvo, which also includes a selection of engravings from Luther’s period. Raúl Macín’s Lutero: Presencia religiosa y política en México was widely read in religious and intellectual circles. Lutero: Ayer y hoy (1984) brought together a compendium of texts from and about the reformer, with a pertinent bibliographical compilation on works in Spanish and Portuguese. Two articles by Roberto Hoeferkamp (d. 2012), minister of the Lutheran church in Bogotá, who also worked in Mexico and Guatemala, stand out, both published in 1986, “La viabilidad de Lutero hoy: Una perspectiva desde América Latina” and “Como se estuda e vive Teología conforme Lutero,” the later published in a book coordinated by Lothar Hoch.38 Protestant minister Albérico Baeske´s Releitura de Lutero em contextos de Terceiro Mundo (1990) harnasses Luther´s theology for Christian militancy in these regions. Concurrently, Romeu Martini, in Movimiento da reforma e contexto Latino-Americano (1993) discussed Luther’s response to the Twelve Articles and his position toward the Peasants War of 1524–1525.39 In 1999, Mexican novelist Francisco Prieto published a play named Lutero o el criado de Dios (Luther or the Servant of God).40

Interest in Luther is not limited to the church, but can be found in literature as well. He can even be found in Latin American poetry41 and in prose in authors of such importance as José Martí, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Alejo Carpentier, and Julio Cortázar, who specifically declared he was a reader of Luther. Moreover, Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges, in his celebrated tale, El Aleph (1949), refers to the German reformer as the worst translator of the Bible.42

The two most significant contemporary Latin American theologians commenting on Luther are Brazilian Lutherans Walter Altmann (b. 1944) and Vítor Westhelle (b. 1952). Altmann’s Confrontación y liberación: Una perspectiva latinoamericana de Lutero (1987) is the first complete book written by a Latin American theologian. Besides having studied diverse aspects of Luther’s theology, Altmann also translated a seminal work of Marc Lienhard, Alsatian Luther scholar and pastor,43 titled in Portuguese as Martim Lutero: Tempo, vida, mensagem. He also translated Hans Joachim Iwand’s A justiça da fé: Exposição conforme a doutrina dé Lutero.44 Vítor Westhelle, professor in Chicago, is a very prolific author and currently one of the great experts on Luther.45 In 1987, Juan Stumme and Luis Fernando Crespo edited Lutero a la luz del siglo XX, published by the Servicio Ecuménico de Pastoral y Estudios de la Comunicación and the Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII in Peru. This work compiled papers presented at the Semana Teológica Semestral, which was meant to transmit “the vigorous theological contribution of the great reformer Martin Luther.”46

Luther in a 21st-Century Perspective

Analysis of Luther has continued apace. At the International Lutheran Council celebrated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the year 2000, U.S. missionary Douglas L. Rutt found many parallels between Martin Luther and his contemporary, the Sevillian friar Bartolomé de Las Casas, known as “the defensor of the Indians.”47 A decade later, in Brazil, Helio Aparecido Teixeira analyzed the different periods of Luther’s thought with special attention to the concept of “just war” in Luther’s mind.48 Leopoldo Heimann, professor at the Universidade Luterana do Brasil and director of the Biblical Society in that country, coordinated a series of volumes that treated the different facets of Luther as a theologian, educator, writer, pastor, and reformer. Heimann also published works of Luther translated into Portuguese.49 In Chile, Marco A. Huesbe presented a paper on Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms.50 Antonio Rehbein Pesce emphasized the relevance of Luther to Catholic historiography for assessing the present Catholic Church. In Brazil, the play Lutero: Un hombre y dos destinos, directed by Paulo Faustino, premiered in theaters in Río de Janeiro on September 26, 2002. It depicted the reformer as an ethical, upright man of deep faith, a brilliant religious leader. Brazilian historian Arnaldo Érico Huff Júnior’s 2006 article “Imagens de Lutero no luteranismo brasileiro” examines visual and textual imagery used by pastors and leaders of the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana do Brasil (IELB) to depict Luther between the end of World War I and the post-military dictatorship (1963–1985). Lutero en el Paraíso (2008) treats the presentation of Luther during three centuries in Colonial Mexico. Mexican philosophers Luis Guerrero and Ramón Kuri Camacho, studied in 1991 and 2013, respectively, Luther’s influence in Kierkegaard and Heidegger. Historian, theologian, pastor, and writer Leopoldo Cervantes Ortiz and writer and journalist Carlos Martínez García, sponsors of the Centro de Estudios del Protestantismo Mexicano are currently coordinating in Mexico the activities for the fifth centenary of the Reformation. They recently gathered outstanding scholars from various parts of the world in an important colloquium held in January 2016.51

In September 2015, a new joint Lutheran-Catholic edition in Portuguese of Luther’s commentary on the Magnificat was presented in São Paulo, Brazil, by the Editorial Sinodal of the Iglesia Evangélica de Confesión Luterana en el Brasil (IECLB) and the Catholic publishing house Santuario, in view of the 2017 commemoration. With the quincentennial in mind, the jesuit theologian Héctor Vall Vilardel, from Santiago de Chile, meditated on Luther’s role in modern history, in an ecumenical and global context, in response to new needs and theological challenges.52

Martin Hoffmann, German Lutheran theologian and visiting professor of systematic theology of the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana in San José de Costa Rica, recently presented his book La locura de la cruz: La teología de Martin Lutero: Textos originales e interpretaciones,53 which discusses the relevance of Luther’s theology of the cross for the situation of religious diversity in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than a dozen Latin American researchers have recently contributed to Radicalizing Reformation, edited by professor Ulrich Duchrow of the University of Heidelberg. This five-volume study from recognized theologians aims to examine the problems of today from the point of view of the Reformation and biblical investigation.54

Topics and Lines of Investigation

It is difficult to offer perspectives on the figure and legacy of Luther in Latin America because of the many angles from which he can be addressed. For theologians, Luther is a reference topic because of the unquestionable weight of his doctrinal proposals and of the religious Christian sense of his existence. For historians, it is so because of the relevance that his life, his testimony, his thought, and the Reformation as a whole had in the radical change of course the world experienced since then. For social scientists, Luther was a revolutionary who transcended his original position in the spiritual field to become one of the principal founders, without realizing it, of a social, economic, and ideological revolution. These scholars may also discuss the psychological factors that Luther’s ethics put in play. Philosophers may take the essential character traits of his Christian consciousness to review values, moral, free will, and religiosity. Yet, the challenge to understand Luther from a Latin American context is still valid.

While some lines of investigation may be suggested, researchers are indebted to previous research and interpretations, mainly North American and European. It is difficult to find a topic that is absolutely new and not reviewed through the years in this long inquiry. However, in Latin America there can always be an original, newfangled analysis of the reformer in the light of current circumstances. The aim is to entrench the theology and spirituality of Luther in this specific reality. Present and future research can open to different channels in extension and depth, but it will always have to take into account fundamental aspects. The first one is the ineluctable necessity to continue working on the research on Luther, as a historical character and a son of his time and circumstance, as well as for his significance in the construction of the modern world. The second aspect is to strive for the exegesis of his work and to stress the importance his legacy has for new generations. The third is to seek the proposal of Luther in the Latin American context, for the validity of its content and the relevance of its practical application there.

The first task for Latin American Luther scholarship is to continue carrying out the suggestion of Juan A. Ortega y Medina that “the father of the Reformation must be released from two false-plain interpretations, two masks or legends: The Protestant, that have considered him a saint, and the Catholic that have made him, and until very recently have still seen him, as a demon.”55 Such a dichotomy has hampered the understanding of Luther and it is far from gone in a region marked by centuries of Counter-Reformation. Understanding Luther’s reforming activity and spirituality in their contexts remains an important task.

The second proposal lies in the permanent analysis of his thought through the study of his writings. The characteristic rhetoric style of Luther does not blur his solid knowledge in theological, moral, and religious matters, nor his sincere spiritual labor. Fundamental topics, like grace, justification by faith alone, the role of the Bible in one’s life, the concept of church, ecclesial ministry, the roads to salvation, universal priesthood of all baptized Christians, the bondage of the will, works, and merit, vocation (Beruf), his soteriological perspective, problems surrounding moral and ethics, and so on must be continually reviewed not only in Europe, but also with great significance in Latin America. Attention should also be given to Luther’s interpretation of Christian values such as charity, love, patience, freedom, and others. Such features as the renovation of liturgy, the theology of the cross, and ecclesiology are also crucial. After 500 years, the best recognition we can give Luther and what some call “the Lutheran dogma”56 is to give him further attention.

The third consideration refers to Luther’s contemporary relevance for Latin American history and theology, which found in Luther a source of social and humanitarian content. Many historians have noted his contributions toward education.57 The idea of universal priesthood has also been amply discussed in Latin America, especially for its potential input for political praxis and economic behavior. Luther’s contributions toward a theology of the cross58 and ecclesiology have been linked to essentials as ecumenism and Christology; they have helped to orient ecclesial base communities, encouraged solidarity with the poor and the victims of violence, as well as inspired the search for liberation for the oppressed, through justice as an aspect of salvation. There is great need for experts on Luther in Latin America to be in conversation with other professionals from all over the world. Today, many ecumenical negotiations take place in the sprit of mutual recognition of the community of churches inspired by Luther, discussions that need to be more widely known and examined in Latin America.59

Enrique Dussel, founding president of the Comisión de Estudios de la Historia de la Iglesia en Latinoamérica (CEHILA) emphasized—following Luther as well as Vatican II—that the ecumenical definition of church as the body of Christ could form the methodological starting point for a different, cruciform history of Christianity.60 For his part, Hans Jürgen Prien pleaded for an ecumenical historiography based on a deep knowledge in Lutheran ecclesiology. Prien prophesied that this would have a huge echo in Latin America.61 As Albrecht Baeske stated, the freedom of grace and faith would work as a motivation to achieve political, economical, cultural, and social liberty in the developing world. This would lead to a collective, dignified, and equal life, that which Leonardo Boff calls “the liberating dimension of faith.”62

On the other hand, it has been necessary to reconsider the ethical aspects in Luther’s works. Anti Reformation polemics accused Protestantism of being a religion without ethics, which opposed “good works.” Today it is fully accepted that the reformer explicitly spoke of certain ethical and social issues. This generated much discussion in Latin America, and it has been made clear that Luther was not indifferent to the social and economic problems of the German world of his time.63

One of the most significant debates in Latin America concerns Luther’s relationship to modernity. He was part of the discussion even before Weber-inspired social scientists linked Luther’s religious reform to the rise of a new mentality that strengthened economic energies gestated long ago. Since the 19th century, voices have been heard for and against the principles of modernity. In Latin America, typically its paradigms have been questioned, insofar as the countries of German and Anglo Saxon origins have advocated them. Leonardo Boff has indicated that it is necessary to rethink the question of to what extent Luther led to a legitimizing interpretation of modernity,64 a concept Boff links to oppression of Latin Americans. Boff is correct in including Luther in this discussion, as the reformer’s influence was not only religious but also social.65 Enrique Dussel has defended the thesis that Protestantism was not the cause but rather the effect of modernity.66 For other scholars, Latin American Protestantism is looked to as a way of modernizing their region, following the exemplary model of the United States, whose powerful presence is seen as an example by many nations in this hemisphere. The discussion of Protestant “genetics” in the essence of modernity is a very sensitive issue in Latin America because of its Hispanic and Catholic heritage, which has been appointed as the cause of traditional attitudes (misoneism). Martin Hoffmann, German theologian and professor at the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana in San José de Costa Rica, says that Latin America faces the crisis of modernity today, a system that, he claims, is about to destroy itself because of its instrumental rationality.67

In summary, Latin America might well be considered an important setting for inquiries about Martin Luther and Lutheranism outside Europe and the United States. This is a context that looks at the problem from a different perspective, in the current state of thought and of theological interpretations, both Catholic and Protestant. It is currently (and rightly) thought that Luther can be a common teacher for both.

The state of historical research in the second half of the 20th century, and so far this century, is encouraging. New interpretations and hermeneutical orientations of many concepts given by Luther have emerged. These have turned out to be of central significance for the ecumenical and missional dialogue. This is why what has been and is being produced in Latin America cannot be ignored. Here, a voluminous historiography and theological reflection have been built, where the historical Luther and his own testimony have slowly replaced the long-forged and stereotyped image of the reformer. Scholars and theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, will continue to contribute to understanding and appreciating Luther and his context, and the relevance for his teaching today. Luther’s role in the historical development of Latin America still needs to be distinguished from an ideologically burned past, whether it be Counter-Reformation Catholic, retrenched Protestant, or vaguely modern.

Review of the Literature

Whether in a negative or a positive way, Martin Luther appears to dominate Latin America’s religious landscape. Literature itself gives us the overall view of the process of his utilization for rhetorical purposes. It also meet each century’s expectations and circumstances.

Luther is not a local but rather a continental phenomenon in America, a large territory of interest for researchers. In countries of Hispanic and Portuguese origin, of strong Catholic bonds, interpreting Luther has been a difficult task because of its religious, social, and cultural background. Over time, Latin American literature developed, generally not in depth and detail as to the real character, different portraits of Luther, shaped by idiosyncratic and varied cultural complexities, which nevertheless show the endurance of mentalities. In colonial times, since the 16th century and following the Council of Trent’s anathema, Luther became a dominant symbol of evil, heresy, and rebellion. Written works generated by colonial institutions yielded the intentions of colonial elites and the learned clergy and ecclesiastical authorities, under the supervision of the church. This is translated in early literature, in various manuscripts and printed sources, in chronicles, theological writtings and sermons, especially in New Spain, Peru, New Granada, and Río de la Plata.

The subject reaches far beyond colonial times, well into the 18th century, with hardly any difference. In the 19th century, Luther gains presence mainly in the press, as a significant historic figure who, for right or wrong, promoted liberty of thought and questioned religious domination. The discourse goes through the direction and redirection of the official Catholic story.

In 20th-century literature, Luther was a topic that stirred interest as never before. This gained him an opportunity to reach beyond the idea of being a terribly ruinous heresiarch, to now claim a site in history. More broadly, new theological considerations, many of them originating in Latin America, helped to build a more accurate perception of Luther that amounts to the bibliography of the controverted Agustinian reformer. Liberation theologians and also those who answer them revised Luther’s social and theological contributions, which caused a full set of studies, and a far from concerted official literature took off. Luther’s propositions had special associations with the true faith in the sign of the cross and the healing of the poor and discriminated people. There is now new literature that aims to view the reformer as a more familiar symbol who emphasizes a different practice of religion than the Roman Catholic. Luther is no more a distant, terrifying person or the embodiment of evil, but rather a theologian, a reformer, a good person striving to do good in the society of his time. Today, literature converges on many themes and attracts even greater interest for Luther’s trajectory and theological contributions that encourage future research.

Further Reading

Alberdi, Juan A.Política y sociedad en Argentina. Venezuela: Ayacucho, 2005.Find this resource:

Albori, Albert. “Educação, ética e cidadania na obra de Martim Lutero.” Historia da Educação 10.20 (2006): 81–100.Find this resource:

Albori, Albert. “Relações entre a etica social de Lutero e a concepção de Weber sobre a ética protestante no contexto educacional.” Orbis: Revista de Ciencias Humanas 7 (2007): 4–22.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter. “O ministério pastoral em Lutero: Algumas teses e breve explicação.” In Pastorado em discussão. Edited by Huberto Kirchheim, 26–34. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Editorial Sinodal, 1979.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter. “Lutero, afinal, o que quis?” In Reflexões em torno de Lutero. Vol. I, Edited by Walter Altmann. Compiled by Martin Dreher, 9–28. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Faculdade de Teologia, 1981–1988.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter. Confrontación y liberación: Una perspectiva latinoamericana de Lutero. Buenos Aires: FOCO-ISEDET, 1983a.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter. “Os 500 Anos do Nascimento de Lutero:. Sob o signo da reaproximação entre católicos e luteranos.” Folha de São Paulo. Brasil. (1983b): 31.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter. Lutero e libertação. São Paulo: Ática, 1994.Find this resource:

Altmann, Walter, ed. Confessando nossa Fé: Estudos da Confissão de Augsburgo para uso das comunidades: Elaborado por pastores de la Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Editorial Sinodal, 1980.Find this resource:

Araújo Gomes, Antônio Maspoli. “Ética Cristã, educação e responsabilidade social em Martinho Lutero e João Calvino.” Revista Ciências da Religião: História e Sociedade 8.2 (2010): 6–24.Find this resource:

Baeske, Albérico. “Releitura de Lutero em contextos de terceiro mundo.” Estudos Teológicos 30 (1990): 15–35.Find this resource:

Bastian, Jean-Pierre. Protestantismos y modernidad latinoamericana: Historia de unas minorías religiosas activas en América Latina. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994.Find this resource:

Beros, Daniel C. “La ética protestante y el espíritu del capitalismo: Reflexiones a partir del pensamiento ético-económico de Martín Lutero.” Cuadernos de Teología 26 (2007): 49–72.Find this resource:

Beros, Daniel. “Fuera de la cual no se enseña otra cosa que apariencias y palabrería: Algunas consideraciones sobre el significado de la herencia de la Reforma en América Latina.” Cuadernos de Teología 30 (2011): 45–52.Find this resource:

Beros, Daniel. “La importancia de la obra de Hans Joachim Iwand como intérprete de Lutero para el pensamiento teológico evangélico latinoamericano.” In Justicia de la fe: Estudios sobre la teología de Martín Lutero y de la Reforma Evangélica del siglo XVI. By Hans J. Iwand, 13–26. Buenos Aires: La Aurora, 2015.Find this resource:

Berryman, Phillip. Liberation Theology: Essential Facts about the Revolutionary Movement in Latin America and Beyond. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987.Find this resource:

Blank, Rudolfo. “Un vistazo al escudo de Lutero: Acerca de la identidad luterana en el mundo hispano/latino.” Missio Apostolica 16.1 (May 2008): 6–21.Find this resource:

Boff, Leonardo. “Lutero y la teología de la liberación: Un mutuo desafío.” Revista Agustiniana 24.75 (1983): 425–455.Find this resource:

Boff, Leonardo. “Lutero entre a reforma e a libertação.” Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira 43.172 (1983): 714–736.Find this resource:

With a Spanish version, “Lutero entre la reforma y la liberación.” Revista Latinoamericana de Teología 1.1 (1984): 83–101.Find this resource:

Boff, Leonardo. ¿Cómo celebrar el quinto centenario? Presencia del Evangelio en 50 años de América Latina. Barcelona: Fundaciones Alfons Comín, 1992.Find this resource:

Cisneros, Antonio. “El reposo de un jesuita.” In Nueva Poesía Hispanoamericana. Edited by Leo Zelada, 11. Madrid: Editorial Lord Byron, 2005.Find this resource:

De Alencar Arnaut de Toledo, Cézar. “A questão da educação na obra de Martinho Lutero.” Acta Scientiarum 21 (1999): 129–135.Find this resource:

De Proença Lopes, Leandro. “Lutero & a Edacação Brasil.” Historia de la Educación Latinoamericana. Tunja, Universidad Pedagógica de Colombia 3 (2009): 295–298.Find this resource:

Dreher, Luis H. “Da letra às ordens: Teologia e ética do matrimônio em Lutero.” Estudos Teológicos 38.3 (1998): 226–238.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N. “A theologia crucis de Lutero e o tema da teologia da libertação.” Estudos Teológicos 28.2 (1988): 137–152.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N. “A autoridade secular a visão de Lutero.” Estudos Teológicos 29.1 (1989): 69–86.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N. “A redescoberta da teologia da cruz de Lutero no debate com a teologia da libertação.” Estudos Teológicos 30 (1990): 15–35.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N.Coleção história da Igreja. 4 vols. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 2004.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N. “Martinho Lutero (1483–1546) e Tomas Müntzer (1489–1525): A justificação teológica da autoridade secular e da revolução política.” Veritas 51.203 (2006): 145–168.Find this resource:

Dreher, Martin N., ed. Reflexoes em torno de Lutero. 3 vols. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Faculdade de Teologia, 1981–1988.Find this resource:

Duchrow, Ulrich (main ed.), Daniel Beros, Martin Hoffmann, and Hans Ulrich. Radicalizing Reformation. 5 vols. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2015.Find this resource:

Fliedner, Federico. Martín Lutero: Emancipador de la conciencia. México: Caso Unida de Publicaciones, 1956.Find this resource:

Fliedner, Federico. Martín Lutero, emancipador de la conciencia. Prologue by Darío A. Santamaría. Barcelona: Editorial Clíe, 1980.Find this resource:

García Villoslada, Ricardo. Lutero visto por los historiadores católicos del siglo XX. Madrid: Fundación Universitaria Española, 1973.Find this resource:

García Villoslada, Ricardo. Martin Lutero. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1976.Find this resource:

Hansen, Guillermo. “El uso político de la cruz: Poder y contra-poder en la theología crucis´ de Lutero.” In El silbo ecuménico del espíritu: Homenaje a José Míguez Bonino en sus 80 años. Edited by Guillermo Hansen, 193–230. Buenos Aires: Instituto Universitario ISEDET, 2004.Find this resource:

Heimann, Leopoldo, ed. Lutero o teólogo. 5 vols. Brazil: Fórum ULBRA de Teología, Universidade Luterana do Brasil, 2004.Find this resource:

Heimann, Leopoldo, ed. Lutero o Educador. Brazil: Fórum ULBRA de Teología, Universidade Luterana do Brasil, 2005a.Find this resource:

Heimann, Leopoldo, ed. Lutero o Escritor. Brazil: Fórum ULBRA de Teología, Universidade Luterana do Brasil, 2005b.Find this resource:

Heimann, Leopoldo, ed. Lutero o Pastor. Brazil: Fórum ULBRA de Teología, Universidade Luterana do Brasil, 2006.Find this resource:

Heimann, Leopoldo, ed. Lutero o Reformador. Brazil: Fórum ULBRA de Teología, Universidade Luterana do Brasil, 2008.Find this resource:

Hoffmann, Martin. La locura de la cruz: La teología de Martín Lutero: Textos originales e interpretaciones. Costa Rica: DEI, 2014.Find this resource:

Huesbe Llanos, Marco A. “Reforma política luterana en el siglo XVII de Martin Lutero a Henning Arnisaeus.” Revista de Estudios Histórico-Jurídicos 21, Valparaíso (1999): 255–315.Find this resource:

Iwand, Hans Joachim. A justiça da fé: Exposição conforme a doutrina dé Lutero. Translated by Walter Altmann and Lindolfo Weingärtner. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 1977.Find this resource:

Jardilino, José Rubens. Lutero & a educação. Brasil, Belo Horizonte: Autêntica Editora, 2009.Find this resource:

Jordán Martínez, Ariel. “Lutero en el pensamiento de José Martí.” PhD diss. Cuba: Seminario Concordia, 2011.Find this resource:

Junghans, Helmar. Temas da teologia de Lutero. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 2000.Find this resource:

Junghans, Helmar. Da Teologia de Lutero. 2d ed. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 2001.Find this resource:

Kleim, Ernesto Jacobo. “A educação e a revolução social de Martinho Lutero.” Eccos Revista Científica 12.1 (2010): 219–237.Find this resource:

Londoño, Juan Esteban. “‘Casafús era rojo: Un malvado, un hereje’: Identificación política-religiosa en Luterito de Tomás Carrasquilla.” PhD diss. Colombia: Universidad de Antioquía, Instituto de Filosofía de Medellín, 2013.Find this resource:

Lutero, Martín. Obras. Translated by Carlos Witthaus and edited by Manfred Kurt Bahmann. Buenos Aires, Paidós, 1967–1977.Find this resource:

Lutero, Martín. Obras. Edited by Teófanes Egido. Salamanca, Spain: Ediciones Sígueme, 2001.Find this resource:

Martini, Romeu R., and Eduardo Gross. Movimento da reforma e contexto Latino-Americano. São Leopoldo, Brazil: IEPG, 1993.Find this resource:

Mayer, Alicia. “The Heresiarch that Burns in Hell: The Image of Martin Luther in New Spain.” In Luther zwischen den Kulturen. Edited by Peer Schmidt and Hans Medick, 119–140. Frankfurt: Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004.Find this resource:

Mayer, Alicia. “Lutero y Alemania en la conciencia novohispana.” In México y Alemania: Percepciones mutuas en impresos, siglos XVI–XVIII. Edited by Horst Pietschmann, Manuel Ramos, Cristina Torales, and Karl Kohut. México: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2005.Find this resource:

Mayer, Alicia. Lutero en el paraíso: La nueva España en el espejo del reformador alemán. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008.Find this resource:

Mayer, Alicia. “Specters of Luther, Heresiarch of Colonial Mexico.” Lutheran Forum 47.4 (Winter 2013): 58–64.Find this resource:

Mendoza, Antonio, ed. Lecturas de museo: Orientación sobre la recepción de relaciones entre literatura y las artes. Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona: Universidad Santiago de Compostela-Universidad de Barcelona, 2000.Find this resource:

Meyer, Harding. “Lutero na opinião da Igreja Católica Apostólica Romana.” Estudos Teológicos 1 (1961): 25–38.Find this resource:

Muniz Ribeiro Barbosa, Luciana. “Estado e educação em Martinho Lutero.” Cadernos de Pesquisa 41.144 (2011): 866–885.Find this resource:

Nervo, Amado. Cuentos y crónicas. México: UNAM, 1993.Find this resource:

Olavarría y Ferrari, Enrique. Reseña histórica del teatro Mexicano. Vol. 1. México: La Europea, 1895.Find this resource:

Ortega y Medina, Juan A.Reforma y modernidad. In Obras de Juan A. Ortega y Medina. Edited by Cristina González and Alicia Mayer, 39–218. México: UNAM-Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 2013a.Find this resource:

Ortega y Medina, Juan A. “Lutero y su contribución a la Modernidad.” In Obras de Juan A. Ortega y Medina. Edited by Cristina González and Alicia Mayer, 437–456. México: UNAM-Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 2013b.Find this resource:

Padilla, René. Fe cristiana y Latinoamérica hoy. Buenos Aires: Certeza, 1974.Find this resource:

Palés Matos, Luis, “Canción festiva para ser llorada.” In Poesía Afroantillana y negrista: Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Cuba. By Jorge Luis Morales, 89–90. Rio Piedras: Editorial Universitaria Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1976.Find this resource:

Parra, Porfirio. Lutero: Cuadro dramático en un acto y en verso. México: Imprenta de “El Correo Español,” 1906.Find this resource:

Pesch, Otto Hermann. “Lo que en Lutero hay de católico.” Gennium 11 (2008): 384.Find this resource:

Prien, Hans-Jürgen. La historia del cristianismo en América Latina. Salamanca, Spain: Editorial Sígueme, 1985.Find this resource:

Prien, Hans-Jürgen. Religiosidad e historiografía: La irrupción del pluralismo religioso en América Latina y su elaboración metódica en la historiografía. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 1998.Find this resource:

Prieto, Francisco. Lutero o el criado de Dios. México: Coordinación de Difusión Cultural, Dirección de Literatura, UNAM, 1999.Find this resource:

Rodríguez, Carmen, and José D. Rodríguez, eds. Martín Lutero descalzo: Meditaciones sobre la identidad luterana desde el contexto latinoamericano. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: 2010.Find this resource:

Roldán Tomasz Suárez, Litvin. “El sentido histórico del proyecto educativo de Lutero.” Frónesis 11.1 (2004): 41–81.Find this resource:

Rutt, Douglas L.La misión de la Iglesia Luterana en América Latina: Análisis del pasado y perspectivas hacia el futuro. Conference of the International Lutheran Council. Buenos Aires, Argentina: September 26–28, 2000.Find this resource:

Saranyana, Josep Ignasi, dir., and Carmen Alejos Grau, coord. Teología en América Latina. Vol. 3. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2002.Find this resource:

Saranyana, Josep Ignasi, (dir.), and Carmen Alejos Grau, coord. Teología en América Latina. Vol. 2. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2008.Find this resource:

Stumme, Juan, Luis Fernando Crespo, and Gregorio Pérez de Guereñu. Lutero a la luz del siglo XX. Lima, Peru: Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII, 1983.Find this resource:

Teixeira, Helio Aparecido. “Aproximações entre Francisco de Vitoria e a sua crítica ao pacifismo de Lutero.” Caurensia, revista anual de ciencias eclesiásticas. España: Instituto Teológico San Pedro de Alcántara y Universidad Extremeña, 6 (2011): 223–243.Find this resource:

Vall Vilardel, Héctor. “Del conflicto a la comunión: El sentido de las protestas de Lutero.” Mensaje 64.638 (2015): 21–28.Find this resource:

Viejo Feliu, Ricardo. Lutero en España y América Española. New York: Protestant Founders, 1956.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Cross, Creation, and Ecology: The Meeting Point between the Theology of the Cross and Creation Theology in Luther.” In Concern for Creation: Voices on the Theology of Creation. Edited by Viggo Mortensen, 159–167. Uppsala, Sweden: Tro & Tanke, 1995.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Communication and the Transgression of Language in Luther.” Lutheran Quarterly 17.1 (Spring 2003): 1–27.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “The Dark Room, the Labyrinth, and the Mirror: On Interpreting Luther's Thought on Justification and Justice.” In By Faith Alone: Essays on Justification in Honor of Gerhard O. Forde. Edited by Joseph A. Burguess and Marc Kolden, 316–331. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Luther on the Authority of Scriptures.” Lutheran Quarterly 19.4 (Winter 2005a): 373–391.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “The Word and the Mask: Revisiting the Two-Kingdoms Doctrine.” In The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology. Edited by Niels Henrik Gregersen, Bo Holm, Ted Peters, and Peter Widman, 167–178. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005b.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Uses and Abuses of the Cross: The Reformation, Then and Now.” Trinity Seminary Review 28.2 (Summer–Fall 2007): 83–91.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vítor. O Deus escandaloso: O uso e abuso da cruz. Sao Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 2008. Original in English, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Power and Politics: Incursions in Luther’s Theology.” In The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times. Edited by Christine Helmer, 284–300. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Hybridity and Luther’s Reading of Chalcedon.” In Gudstankens aktualitet: Bidrag om teologiens opgave og protestantismens indre spaendinger: Festskrift til Peter Widmann. Edited by Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen, Bo Kristian Holm, and Anders-Christian Jacobsen, 233–253. Copenhagen: ANIS, 2010.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Lutheranism and Culture in the Americas: A Comparative Study.” In Transformations in Luther’s Theology: Historical and Contemporary Reflections. Edited by Christine Helmer & Bo Kristian Holm, 229–244. Arbeiten zur Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte 32. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2011.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Exploring Effective Context: Luther’s Contextual Hermeneutics.” In You Have the Words of Eternal Life: Transformative Readings of the Gospel of John from a Lutheran Perspective, Documentation 57/2012. Edited by Kenneth Mtata, 107–120. Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2012a.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Theology of the Cross: A Theology of Revelation and a Lutheran Understanding.” The Lutheran 25.10 (October 2012b): 18–19.Find this resource:

Westhelle, Vitor. “Luther in Latinamerika und Boff in Deutschland: Lutherische theologie in Lateinamerika und ihre Anfragen an Europa.” In Luthers unvollendete: Relevanz lutherischer theologie aus europäischer und lateinamerikanischer perspektive. Edited by Claudia Jahnel and Hans Zeller, 13–28. Erlangen, Germany: Martin-Luther Verlag, 2013.Find this resource:

Witthaus, Carlos. “Martin Lutero como pedagogo.” Cuadernos de Teología 2.2 (September 1972): 139–146.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) The concept “Latin America” was used mostly by French historiography since the second half of the 19th century, mainly to distinguish the Catholic, Hispanic from the Anglo Saxon and Protestant Americas. Jean-Pierre Bastian, Protestantismos y modernidad latinoamericana (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994), 1. There is no possible translation into English of the word Latin America to the more accurate “Ibero-América,” which captures the spirit of the concept more adequately in terms of history and heritage. This is the reason why we are bound to use the first term in this article.

(2.) Sabino Sola, El diablo y lo diabólico en las letras americanas: 1550–1750. See the chapter “El diabólico e infernal Lutero” (Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto, 1973). Alicia Mayer, Lutero en el paraíso (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008); and Gregorio Pérez, “Aspectos de la Eclesiología de Lutero,” in Lutero a la luz del siglo XX, eds. Juan Stumme, et al. (Lima: Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII, 1983), 73.

(3.) Juan A. Ortega y Medina, “Reforma y modernidad,” in Obras de Juan A. Ortega y Medina, vol. I, ed. Cristina González and Alicia Mayer (México: UNAM-Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas-FES Acatlán, 2013), 39–216; and Juan A. Ortega y Medina, “Lutero y su contribución a la modernidad,” in Obras de Juan A. Ortega y Medina, vol. I, 437–456.

(4.) Ricardo V. Feliu, Lutero en España y América española (New York: Protestant Founders, 1956).

(5.) Ricardo García Villoslada, Lutero visto por los historiadores católicos del siglo XX (Madrid: Fundación Universitaria Española, 1973), 3.

(6.) Hans-Jürgen Prien, “Consideraciones acerca de una eclesiología ecuménica como punto de partida para una historiografía ecuménica del cristianismo en América Latina,” in Religiosidad e historiografía: La irrupción del pluralismo religioso en América Latina y su elaboración metódica en la historiografía, ed. Hans-Jürgen Prien (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 1998), 90.

(7.) Alicia Mayer, Lutero en el paraíso (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2008). For reference, see Alicia Mayer’s works in “Further Reading.”

(8.) Harding Meyer, “Lutero na opinião da Igreja Católica Apostólica Romana,” Estudos Teológicos 1 (1961): 13.

(9.) For issues regarding identity, see Alicia Mayer, Lutero en el paraíso, passim. Also see Rudolfo Blank, “Un vistazo al escudo de Lutero: Acerca de la identidad luterana en el mundo hispano/latino,” Missio Apostolica 16.1 (2008): 6–21; and Carmen Rodríguez and José D. Rodríguez, Martín, Lutero descalzo: Meditaciones sobre la identidad luterana desde el contexto latinoamericano (Santo Domingo, 2010).

(10.) Besides monographs from each Latin American country, there are more general works such as Josep Ignasi Saranyana, dir., and Carmen Alejos Grau, coord., Teología en América Latina, vol. 3 (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2002); and Hans-Jürgen Prien, La historia del cristianismo en América Latina (Salamanca, Spain: Editorial Sígueme, 1985).

(11.) Jerónimo de Mendieta, Historia eclesiástica Indiana (México: Porrúa, 1986), 174; and Diego Valadés, Rhetorica Christiana (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1989), 333.

(12.) “Doña María Dolores López Complaint against a Man Named Miguel and Other Mariano Callejo for Being Partisans of War,” AGN, México, Inquisición, Año 1811, vol. 462, exp. 27, f. 97.

(13.) Juan B. Alberdi, Política y sociedad en Argentina (Venezuela: Ayacucho, 2005), 15.9.

(14.) At this time, in the Latin American mind, judgements concerning Luther made by Spanish theologians, like Jaime Balmes, Emilio Castelar, and Donoso Cortés, prevailed above revisionist German scholars such as Karl Holl, Hans Iwand, Ernst Wolf, and Heinrich Boehmer. Jaime Balmes, El protestantismo comparado con el catolicismo en su relación con la civilización europea (Barcelona, 1844). This work was a response to the Histoire générale de la civilization en Europe, published by François Guizot in 1828. Emilio Castelar, La revolución religiosa (Madrid, 1880) and Donoso Cortés (author of several letters and essays on religion). Regarding the German theologians of the 19th century, see Manfred Kurt Bahmann’s introduction to Martín Lutero, Obras (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1967), xxii–xxiii.

(15.) Porfirio Parra, Lutero: Cuadro dramático en un acto y en verso (México: Imprenta de “El Correo Español,” 1906). Juan Esteban Londoño, “‘Casafús era rojo: Un malvado, un hereje’: Identificación política-religiosa en Luterito de Tomás Carrasquilla,” (PhD diss., Colombia, Universidad de Antioquía, Instituto de Filosofía de Medellín, 2013).

(16.) Amado Nervo, Cuentos y crónicas (México: UNAM, 1993), 266–267.

(17.) Federico Fliedner, Martín Lutero: Emancipador de la conciencia (México: Caso Unida de Publicaciones, 1956).

(18.) In Harding Meyer, “Lutero na Opinião da Igreja Católica,” 20.

(19.) Joseph Lortz, Die Reformation in Deutschland, 1949; Marc Lienhard, Martin Luther: Un temps, une vie, un message, 1983; Yves Congar, Martin Luther sa foi, sa Rèforme: Études de theologie historique, 1983; and Erwin Iserloh, Luther zwischen Reform und Reformation, 1966.

(20.) Complete bibliographical references of these and the following works indicated are given in “Further Reading.”

(21.) It has a recent Brazilian edition: Martinho Lutero, um destino (São Paulo: Três Estrelas, 2012).

(22.) By Manfred Kurt Bahmann, Carlos Witthaus, Heinz Joachim Held, Ernesto Weigandt, Joachim Fischer, Kenneth Mahler, and Jacobo Preus.

(23.) Manfred Kurt Bahmann, introduction to Martín Lutero, Obras (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1967), xi, xxxii.

(24.) Martín Lutero, Obras, ed. Teófanes Egido (Salamanca, Spain: Ediciones Sígueme, 2001); and Ricardo García Villoslada, Martin Lutero (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1976).

(25.) A series of classic studies on Luther’s theology have been translated and edited by Daniel C. Beros, scholar and theologian from the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos (ISEDET), together with a preface referring to the reformer’s theology in the context of Latin America. Hans J. Iwand, Justicia de la fe: Estudios sobre la teología de Martín Lutero y de la Reforma Evangélica del siglo XVI, ed. and trans. Daniel Beros (Buenos Aires: La Aurora, 2015). Beros is currently working on a Spanish edition of more unpublished works of Luther.

(26.) Phillip Berryman, Liberation Theology: Essential Facts about the Revolutionary Movement in Latin America—and Beyond (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987), 4.

(27.) Luther is often mentioned in theologians such as José Comblin, José Míguez Bonino, Enrique Dussel, Juan Luis Segundo, and Jon Sobrino, to mention just a few.

(28.) Leonardo Boff, “Lutero entre la reforma y la liberación,” Revista Latinoamericana de Teología 1.1 (1984): 83. For other titles by Boff, see “Further Reading.”

(29.) Theologian Juan Stumme suggests that the name “Evangelical Catholics” is preferred to that of “Lutherans.” Lutero a la luz del siglo XX (Lima: Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII, 1983), 3.

(30.) Josep Ignasi Saranyana, dir., and Carmen Alejos Grau, coord., Teología en América Latina, vol. 3, 468, 461.

(31.) For more works by Martin N. Dreher, see “Further Reading.”

(32.) Daniel Beros, preface to H. J. Iwand, Justicia de la fe, 13–26.

(33.) The examples of Walter Altmann and Vítor Westhelle will be mentioned later in this article.

(34.) René Padilla, Fe cristiana y Latinoamérica hoy (Buenos Aires: Certeza, 1974).

(35.) Saranyana, Teología en América Latina, passim.

(36.) Otto Hermann Pesch, “Lo que en Lutero hay de católico,” Gennium 11 (2008): 384.

(37.) Helmar Junghans, Temas da teologia de Lutero (São Leopoldo: Sinodal, 2000), 121. A very important and complete document on Luther is the declaration published by the joint Catholic-Lutheran commission on May 6, 1983, entitled Martín Lutero, testigo de Jesucristo. It was signed by Hans Martensen, Catholic bishop of Copenhagen, and George Lindbeck, professor at Yale, gathered in Wittenberg, Germany. The declaration started from the examination that theologians and historians—Catholic and Lutheran—made in the course of the 20th century. This allowed a better approach to Luther’s theology from Catholic scholars, and Latin Americans were no exception. There is a more recent document that bears the name Del conflicto a la comunión (From conflict to communion) in accordance with both the Catholic Church and the World Lutheran Federation (WLF), whose general secretary is the Chilean pastor Martin Junge, and was done in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

(38.) Hoch, Lothar, ed., Formaçâo teológica em terra brasileira (Sâo Leopoldo, Brazil: Sinodal, 1986).

(39.) Romeu R. Martini and Eduardo Gross, Movimento da reforma e contexto Latino-Americano (São Leopoldo, Brazil: IEPG, 1993).

(40.) Published by UNAM, Colección La Carpa, 1999.

(41.) Historian Enrique de Olavarría y Ferrari (1844–1919) gives notice of some poems mentioning Luther in 19th-century Mexico: Reseña Histórica del teatro Mexicano, vol. 1 (México: La Europea, 1895), 121–122. In the 20th century, Luther is named in Afro-Antillian poetry of Puerto Rico: Luis Palés Matos, “Canción festiva para ser llorada,” in Poesía Afroantillana y negrista: Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Cuba, ed. Jorge Luis Morales (Rio Piedras: Editorial Universitaria Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1976), 89–90 and, recently, in Peruvian poetry: Antonio Cisneros, “El reposo de un jesuita,” in Nueva Poesía Hispanoamericana, ed. Leo Zelada (Madrid: Editorial Lord Byron, 2005), 52–53.

(42.) Antonio Mendoza, ed., Lecturas de museo. Orientación sobre la recepción de relaciones entre literatura y las artes (Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona: Universidad Santiago de Compostela-Universidad de Barcelona), 31; and Ariel Jordán Martínez, “Lutero en el pensamiento de José Martí” (PhD diss., Cuba, Seminario Concordia, 2011).

(43.) Lee Brummel, introduction to Confrontación y liberación: Una perspectiva latinoamericana de Lutero by Walter Altmann (Buenos Aires: FOCO-ISEDET, 1983), 11. The works of Lienhard (b. 1935) brought forward multiple theological interpretations in Latin America. See Luis F. Crespo “La cristología de Lutero” in Lutero a la luz del siglo XX, eds. Juan Stumme, Gregorio Pérez de Guereñu, et al. (Lima: Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII, 1983), 59.

(44.) For more, see “Further Reading.”

(45.) Westhelle has been responsible for some years for a chair dedicated to Luther in Escola Superior de Teologia, in Brazil. He organized in 2015 an international seminar on Luther’s thought: “Fides et ratio: Temas na teologia e filosofía suscitados por Lutero e a Reforma do século XVI,” where many Latin American experts participated together with scholars from other countries.

(46.) Noé Zevallos Ortega, Foreword to Lutero a la luz del siglo XX, eds. Juan Stumme, et al., 3.

(47.) Douglas L. Rutt, “La misión de la Iglesia Luterana en América Latina: Análisis del pasado y perspectivas hacia el futuro.” Regional Conference. International Lutheran Council. Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 26–28, 2000.

(48.) Helio Aparecido Teixeira, “Aproximações entre Francisco de Vitoria e a sua crítica ao pacifismo de Lutero,” Caurensia 6 (2011): 223–243.

(49.) Several works by Heimann are cited in “Further Reading.”

(50.) Marco A. Huesbe Llanos, “Reforma política luterana en el siglo XVII de Martin Lutero a Henning Arnisaeus,” Revista de Estudios Histórico-Jurídicos 21 (1999): 255–315.

(51.) The name of the colloquium was ¿Celebrar a Lutero o la Reforma? A las puertas del 5º Centenario, México, January 13, 2016. More information can be found at Protestantedigital.com.

(52.) Héctor Vall Vilardel. “Del conflicto a la comunión: El sentido de las protestas de Lutero,” Mensaje 64.638 (2015): 22–23.

(53.) Martin Hoffmann, La locura de la cruz: La teología de Martín Lutero: Textos originales e interpretaciones (Costa Rica: DEI, 2014).

(54.) Duchrow, Ulrich (main editor), Daniel Beros, Martin Hoffmann, and Hans Ulrich, eds. Radicalizing Reformation, 5 vols (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2015).

(55.) Juan A. Ortega y Medina, “Lutero y su contribución,” 443.

(56.) Juan A. Ortega y Medina, Reforma y Modernidad, 79–111.

(57.) Especially in Brazil, this has had much echo in scholars like Luciana Muniz Ribeiro Barbosa, Antônio M. Araújo Gomes, Albert Albori, José Rubens Jardilino, Leandro de Proença Lopes, Ernesto Jacobo Kleim, and Cézar de Alencar Arnaut de Toledo. Also, in the German-Argentinean Carlos Witthaus and Venezuelan Roldan Tomasz and others.

(58.) Supported by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said that the central intention of the Lutheran reformation was God crucified, Martin N. Dreher stated that in this rested the prior intention of all the authentic Lutheran Latin American theology. “A theologia crucis de Lutero e o tema da teologia da libertação,” Estudos Teológicos 28.2 (1988): 137–138, 148. Also see Guillermo Hansen, “El uso político de la cruz: Poder y contra-poder en la ‘Theología Crucis’ de Lutero” in El silbo ecuménico del espíritu: Homenaje a José Míguez Bonino en sus 80 años, ed. Guillermo Hansen (Buenos Aires: Instituto Universitario ISEDET, 2004), 193–230.

(59.) As, for example, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, where there has been consensus starting from the Malta report of 1972, and especially after the Joint Declaration on that doctrine in 1999. This meant a great step regarding ecumenism. Altmann, Prien, Boff, Val Vilardel, and many others have studied this. The Lutheran Conference on Justification and Justice took place in Mexico in 1985. It was organized by the World Mission of Inter-ecclesiastic Cooperation of the North American Lutheran Church. Saranyana, Teología en América Latina, 450.

(60.) Enrique Dussel, “Historia del fenómeno religioso en América Latina,” in Religiosidad e Historiografía, ed. Hans-Jürgen Prien (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 1998), 14.

(61.) Hans-Jürgen Prien, “Consideraciones acerca de una eclesiología,” in Religiosidad e Historiografía, ed. Hans-Jürgen Prien, 88.

(62.) Albérico Baeske, “Releitura de Lutero em contextos de Terceiro Mundo.” Estudos Teológicos 30 (1990): 25. Boff, “Lutero entre a reforma e a libertação,” 85.

(63.) Recently, the Argentinean theologian Daniel Beros analyzed the economic ethics of Martin Luther with the purpose of re-discovering his own insight for a better understanding of the Weberian thesis: “La ética protestante y el espíritu del capitalismo: Reflexiones a partir del pensamiento ético-económico de Martín Lutero,” Cuadernos de Teología 26 (2007): 70–71.

(64.) It is appropriate here to mention works by the Swiss sociologist Jean-Pierre Bastian on the topic, which include Historia del protestantismo en América Latina (México: CUPSA, 1990), Protestantismo y modernidad latinoamericana (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994), and La mutación religiosa en América Latina: Para una sociología del cambio social en la modernidad periférica (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997).

(65.) Boff, “Lutero entre la Reforma,” 91.

(66.) Enrique Dussel, “Historia del fenómeno religioso en América Latina,” 71–81.

(67.) Without question, in this area, the list of works on the topic is very abundant.