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Luther An Entrepreneur? Martin Luther's Impact On Christianity & The World

Have you ever thought about Luther as an Entrepreneur? I’m sure many have not but this blog hopes to make the case that you should. Maybe we should start by asking, “What is an entrepreneur?” An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea and who works to create a product or service that people will buy, as well as an organization to support that effort. An entrepreneur takes on most of the risk and initiative for their new business and is often seen as a visionary or innovator.

What was Luther’s problem to solve? People are not hearing the Gospel. People are being crippled by the Law with no hope of making themselves right before God.

What was Luther’s solution to the problem? Get the Scripture into the hands of the people. Only the reading and hearing of the Scriptures, in faith, will free people from the shackles of oppression under the Law.

Luther displayed entrepreneurial tendencies in leveraging the printing press to mass distribute his doctrinal writings, and the Holy Scriptures. Luther was a master marketer. He used the medium of the day to share the Gospel. Luther was truly a “cutting edge” entrepreneurial leader.

Luther was also willing to take on the lion’s share of risk. Luther was willing to risk his own life to offer the solution of the Gospel by faith in Christ. He stood before Pope Charles V, and bishops, and even opposed other protestant leaders…all so that the Gospel would be preserved.

Historian Roland Bainton calls Martin Luther the “inaugurator of the reform, and was a figure like St. Augustine into whom all things flow and from whom all things go.” This is high praise. Luther was willing to assume the risk of even walking alone if needed so that right and pure doctrine would be preserved according to God’s Word.

Luther became a Gospel-inspired entrepreneur because he deeply knew the problem of the Law that the Gospel solved. All entrepreneurs have a founding story that shapes their “Big Why” for doing what they do and offering the “product” they offer. The common man of Luther’s day oscillated between fear and hope, engendering conflict in the souls of the sensitive. Young Luther had a sensitive soul. Luther knew what it was like to fear hell, and hope that somehow he could do enough to avoid the fires of hell. Throughout Luther’s life, he was subject to bouts of acute depression and high exaltation.

Judgment day filled young Luther with panic and dread. He imagined sinister spirits conspiring for his doom. Even God was viewed as majestic, all-holy, One who inhabits eternity. He was a God to be feared. Luther’s story of being killed seemingly beyond hope propelled His Gospel epiphany.

Luther’s Romans 1 Gospel epiphany, that the “righteous shall live by faith” became the story that freed Luther…and, in turn, it was the story that freed Luther’s hearers from the shackles of the Law.

It’s hard for us to comprehend the influence Luther had on culture and the Western geo-political landscape. Luther was primarily concerned with doctrine and proper teaching. He

was willing to risk and challenge anyone who compromised the Word of God. Yet, Luther’s work had a ripple effect far beyond theology. Certain nations and regions soon began to identify themselves as “Lutheran regions,” especially if the civil ruler of the respective country or region identified as “Lutheran.” I do not have time to discuss the complex religious and political landscape of Luther’s day. In short, it was very different from the religion freely practiced in America. Nonetheless, Luther displayed entrepreneurial tendencies in that his “Gospel solution product” had a far-reaching impact, far beyond Wittenberg Germany…even shaping the geo-political landscape of the 16th century and beyond.

Finally, Luther was an entrepreneur because the “product” of his teaching, namely Law and Gospel teaching and preaching, continued long after Luther died in 1545. The story was not clean or sinless…nor was Luther. He was a fallen, broken sinner to be sure. Nonetheless, Luther’s teaching inspired teams of professors and preachers, and civil leaders to discover the truth of the Gospel afresh, long after Luther was dead. Luther’s pen was his “product.” His pen profoundly shaped the culture of the Western church over the past 500 years.

Entrepreneurs are often seen as visionaries and innovators. Luther certainly had both of these qualities

I’m sure you could list a multitude of ways that you view Luther as an entrepreneur. I’m simply hopeful that you follow Luther’s example to lead in an entrepreneurial way.

…all for the sake of sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible.

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