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Luther’s Legacy: Rethinking the Theology of Lay Discipleship 500 Years after the Reformation

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image of Ecclesiology

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is significant in many respects, not least in providing an opportunity to revisit Martin Luther’s emphasis on the role of the laity. Yet his legacy of a positive and theologically robust understanding of vocation as located in the everyday world as well as the religious life has only sporadically informed the church’s understanding of lay ministry, and has frequently been frustrated by clericalism and institutional inertia. By revisiting some modern theologies of the laity from the mid-twentieth century, and in dialogue with a recent Church of England report, this article will suggest some ways in which understandings of lay ministry and discipleship might be renewed. A focus on a learning church, education for discernment and a worldly, missional ecclesiology will help to direct the church to a vision of an empowered, confident and theologically literate laity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Chester, CH1 4BJ, United Kingdom,


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