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Greetings From the Editor

Submitted by on June 15, 2017 – 7:20 amNo Comment

Dear Friends,

October 31, 1517 is a historic date that I have kept company with since I heard it while being prepared to be baptized at a Presbyterian church in Seoul, Korea. We were told that we (that is, Protestants) would not even be around, were it not for that day. The momentous nature of the event was graphically illustrated by the spell-binding portrait of a robed man nailing the Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. I learned never to mind what church historians have to say about what Luther actually did or did not do then and there. The most important detail is that the Reformation was not about starting a new church but about reclaiming what God had in mind for the world.

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Luther’s renewed emphasis on God’s goodness in creation and salvation through Christ is multifaceted. My Lutheran classmate once told me that Luther had written extensively about everything a Christian could think of. One can readily ascertain this by conducting a search for “Luther’s works” at any major theological library. Against the backdrop of the vast world of Luther’s theology, our current issue focuses on a single theme, liberty. Luther’s notion of liberty is grippingly captured in his treatise on Christian liberty (1520), in which a Christian is declared to be “subject to none.”

While “subject to none” appeals to everyone who yearns to breathe free, our authors offer clarity to our theme. When Luther underscored “subject to none,” his focus was not just to wrest freedom from the powers of domination but to use the hard-won freedom to enable us to serve God and seek the liberation of others. Luther’s call does not simply promote the enjoyment of individual liberty. By contrast, it reiterates a call of the gospel for all believers so that we may all work together to battle injustice in our society in the name of the reign of God.

Subject to none but God, we share this commitment to serve God. Some years ago I had a chance to recall this at the door of the Catholic church, Saint Peter’s Dom at Worms. This was the town where the Diet of Worms was held in 1521, and the event is commonly depicted as the moment when the Reformation had reached the point of no return. By the time we arrived by public transportation, the service had already started, and the door was locked. I knocked on the door vehemently, and a priest came out and said that he would not let anyone in since the service was under way. He said that he had to prevent tourists from dropping in and out. I said to him emphatically, “We came to worship,” and to my amazement, he quietly stepped aside to let us in. Apparently, I had spoken the password, which was Gottesdienst, literally, “serving God.” The priest extended extra kindness to return after the service and showed us around. We are here only to serve God, and clearly the theme binds us together.

Peace be with you all,

Jin Han, PhD
Editor in Chief

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About the author

Jin Han wrote 22 articles for this publication.

Professor Jin H. Han teaches courses in First Testament, Exegesis, and Hebrew at New York Theological Seminary. He is the author of Blackwell Bible Commentary on the Six Prophets (with Richard Coggins) and Daniel’s Spiel: Apocalyptic Literacy in the Book of Daniel. He has contributed to the Anchor Bible Dictionary and other major reference works. An ordained clergyperson in the Presbyterian Church, (USA), he has led workshops and retreats for churches nationwide and is involved in developing Bible Study resources for United Methodist Publishing and John Knox Westminster Press.

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