Martin Luther in Berlin

Marienkirche, Berlin
Marienkirche, Berlin Don Michael Hudson, PhD

On a recent visit to the amazing and revitalized city of Berlin, Germany my wife and I stumbled upon the most delightful and yet strange discovery. We departed our bus onto Alexanderplaz on our way to the Neues Egyptian Museum. We had just left Prague and a haphazard jaunt across Eastern Germany stopping at certain Martin Luther sites. We had the time to visit Stotternheim where the good doctor was caught in a terrible thunderstorm and vowed his life away as a monk. We made a hurried stop in Erfurt to see the church where Luther preached and the monastery where he studied. I’ve been reading a life of Luther by Eric Metaxas so these places have been much on my mind. But Berlin? Luther was never in Berlin as far as we know. But no matter. The great city of Berlin in the late 19th century commissioned a memorial to the great German reformer. At the time this memorial included other individuals who supported the German reformation and aided its intellectual vigor. Melancthon, Justas Jonas, and others. During WW2 the “others” were melted down and shaped into armaments–only Luther remained. They placed him in the Marienkirche during the war and subsequent communist rule. They brought him out in 1989, and now he stands guard north of the church in the shadow of the Fernsehturm. Luther towers over you as you look up. He is dressed in his simple monk’s robe and points to an open Bible. This is Luther. Simple, audacious, unrelenting, finding his authority not in popes or priests, but the Scriptures. It was strange to see Martin Luther smack dab in the middle of Berlin; and yet, it makes sense. Here he is surviving 2 world wars and a communist takeover. He, the first modern, reminds Berlin where modernity began.