Coming of Age in the Reformation

Martin Luther’s Theology of Children and Adolescence

in Journal of Youth and Theology
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What was it like for children and youth to grow up in the Protestant Church in 16th century Europe? This historical study explores this question through its focus on specific practices within Christian education and ecclesial rites of initiation, namely baptism, confirmation, and the use of catechisms in the spiritual formation of young people. The research is situated at the intersection of historical theology, spiritual formation, and the life stages of childhood and adolescence, placing particular focus on the theology and writings of Martin Luther as a representative of Reformation-era ecclesial leadership. I argue that Luther recognised a distinct life stage of adolescence between childhood and adulthood, revealed both in his theology of childhood and in educational practices for children and youth, then conclude with considerations for contemporary ministry praxis.