The Common Chest

The Common Chest – Romans 3:28

Reformation Theology and the Welfare State

Confronted with injustices connected to emerging capitalism, Luther and the reformers partnered with the government on all levels to build a reliable welfare system. The Common Chest, implemented in the law of Wittenberg in 1522 provided, for example, interest free loans to artisans and newcomers, and re-financing of high-interest loans for burdened citizens; shelter, clothing, nourishment and food for poor orphans and the children of poor people; it provided dowries for poor women’s marriages; support for the aged and sick; and supported vocational training for poor children and underemployed artisans. It also soon financed medical services for the poor.[1] Common Chest Laws spread over Germany, and from there into the world. Social Welfare, as we know it today, was born.

Rev. Kristin Luana Baumann, sermon, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Port Angeles WA.
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[1] Lindberg, Carter, Luther and the Common Chest, in: “The Forgotten Luther”, ed. Lindberg Carter and Wee, Paul, Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2016, 19-20 and LW 45: 189.


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