I’m taking a break in our series on the proofs of Christ’s humanity this week because I am on holidays enjoying being a father for the first time. But I could not resist echoing the words of Martin Luther written in a letter almost exactly 480 years. On the birth of his second child, a daughter named Magdalene, he wrote the following on the 5th May 1529 to Frau Goritzin (the wife of a judge in Leipzing):
‘Grace to you and peace in Christ, honourable and virtuous lady. Dear friend God having granted that a young heathen should be born to me and my dear Kate [Luther’s wife], I pray you for God’s sake to do us the kindness to help this same poor heathen to become a Christian and to be her spiritual mother that she may by your service and help, throw off the old birth in Adam and obtain to the new birth in Christ, through holy Baptism.’

The object of Luther’s letter was to request Frau Goritzin to be a sponsor in the Baptism of his daughter. Now while I do not believe in infant baptism I believe this letter reflects an important understanding of children that is often missed, even by Christians. Many believe that children are born innocent and it is people that cause them to commit evil. But the Bible teaches that humans are sinful from conception: ‘Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.’ This is a result of the sin of Adam and Eve which spread to every person: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned- (Romans 5:12) Martin Luther knew this and recognised that his child was a ‘poor heathen’. But Luther knew that there is hope. Paul continues in Romans chapter 5 to speak of how Jesus Christ is the new Adam and brings a solution to the sin problem: ‘For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19). Jesus’ death at the cross can bring life to my son, Joshua Harry, and turn his inclination away from evil and towards righteousness.

Jill and I have greatly appreciated your prayers for us and Joshua. But we now beg of you that you may pray for Joshua’s soul. God has indeed granted us a ‘young heathen’. Please pray that God may be pleased to grant Joshua Harry a second birth, a birth in the Holy Spirit so that he may be a Christian and live forever with Jill and I in heaven.

Joel Radford.