Martin Luther’s letter “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague” has started to feel so timely that people are talking about it on Twitter.
The Lutheran Reporter has kindly made the full text available online with the permission of Fortress Press. It is definitely worth reading.
Chris Gehrz, at Anxious Bench, has an interesting commentary on the text, and ALSO (free bonus) a link to the online text of Theodore Beza’s Treatise on the Plague. (More timely, topical Reformation theology.)
That text, interestingly enough, is prefaced by a brief letter of transmission by one Edward Percivall to The Honorable Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of His Majestie’s Principal Fortress, the Tower of London. Interesting to me, that is, because for one thing, the reference to the Tower of London reminds me that I could have it worse. For another, Percivall describes the topic of the Treatise as:
… a Confutation, and reconciling the onely two destructive Opinions, that in all Ages (in Contagious and Infectious times) have ever proved fatal to the World: the one too much presuming and relying upon this bold Opinion, *That the PLAGUE is not Infectious*: and the other, *Tum pavor sapientiam omnem mihi ex animo expectorat*: out of a weak and unspirited Precipitation, without exception, flye away from it; both of which are so contrarie to Humanity; that as they are utter Enemies to each other, so (like the dis-agreeing Brothers) they are both in opposition to Christian Community and Charity.
I thought that was pretty timely, too, especially in light of this snarky op-ed by Alexandra Petri (who I’m sure realizes how evocative of microbiology labs her last name is).
Others have been pairing Luther up with C.S. Lewis, whose remarks on “living in a nuclear age” also strike many folks as relevant to our current cultural moment. Apologetics.org has the relevant portion in a cute doodle form with an appropriately posh British voice over (and my apologies for bringing up apologetics).
I have also seen a lot of mentions, in light of these old texts being new and timely again, of there being nothing new under the sun (C.S. Lewis mentions that one, too, for that matter).
But I have to admit, this is my favorite timely Bible quip, also from Qohelet (of course):
Do not say “Why were the former days better than these?” for it is not from wisdom that you ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)