Luther and Jobs – the connection of two reformers. And the difference.


Martin Luther, the main leader of the Lutheran Reformation lived almost 500 years before from Steve Jobs. But this distance may be not that far when it comes to the impact they both caused on History.
Source: Ulbra’s Press Office

The death of Steve Jobs, referred to as the digital-era genius, happened in the same month as the celebration of The Protestant Reformation, led by a German monk, Martin Luther. The 16th century man left permanent changes as did the revolutions of the latter 20th and early 21st century North American, S. Jobs. His inventions and adaptations criss crossed the globe. Luther's work did the same thing. February stands out as Jobs's birth month while Luther died then. They both lived in eras when breakthroughs in communication systems advanced the world, the printing press (Luther's era) and the internet (Jobs's era). There are other similarities are there about these two?. But, how can this be for two reformers living 5 centuries apart? In this interview, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht, campus chaplain at ULBRA (The Lutheran University of Brazil), anticipating the 500th anniversary of The Christian Reformation in 2017, speaks to ULBRA's Press Office regarding remarkable connections between the "job" of Martin Luther and the "reformation" of Steve Jobs.
ULBRA - Pastor Lucas, Why is it important to make this connection, that is, between Martin Luther of the 16th century and Steve Jobs who lived nearly 500 years later?
Pr. Lucas - Even though there is an immense time span separating these two icons of history there are things they have in common. Minor similarities exist, however 3 major revolutionary parallels can be drawn: Bible translation to Macintosh, music and birth of national language to IPod and IPhone.
ULBRA – How can we relate the translation of the Bible to Apple’s Macintosh?
Pr. Lucas - In 1994, Steve Jobs's Apple released Macintosh to the market. The personal computer is considered a landmark in digital history. This invention became available to all people for personal use within their homes. The graphic interface without command lines made handling of the PC easy, user friendly. Jobs helped put PC's within reach of everyone. No longer were specialists the only ones with access, instead it entered daily applicance status.
Prior to the 16th Century and Luther's time, The Bible was an 'object' used exclusively by specialists. Only those who knew the "command lines," Greek and Hebrew or Latin, at the very least, could handle it. Martin Luther translated the Holy Writings of The Bible into German, the local language. And the printing press's typed transcription of the translation gave full access to everyone.
ULBRA– What’s the musical connection we can make from Jobs to Luther?
Pr. Lucas - There are those who believe Jobs revolutionized the music industry with the launching of IPod and ITunes. The influence of the way we listen to music and the way music is produced and distributed has changed dramatically. As a composer (36 hymns), an instrumentalist (lute), and vocalist (tenor) Luther proved very competent and skillful in terms of his lasting influence of Christian music. Some accounts claim The Pope, at the time, was concerned that Protestants' music had a greater impact than their sermons. Luther placed music into the hands of clergymen and then to the lips of the people whereas Jobs's use of the IPod gave people greater access to music. Luther's music was taken from popular tunes, easy to learn and sing, to their German language and idioms. The major change and emphasis was to congregational singing of sacred music.  
Decades later, Johann Sebastian Bach (a Lutheran Christian), permanently influenced classical and church music from a Christian standpoint. These two, Luther and a later Luther follower Bach, changed history and the 'industry' of music in their time as did Jobs today.
ULBRA – You mentioned that Luther managed to give birth a new language. How did that happened?
Pr. Lucas - In fact, scholars consider Martin Luther as the father of the modern German language. His translation of The Bible into German gave those with varied dialects Scripture in an understandable format. He frequented public places to record the everyday language used. This gave him the words. Jobs's IPhone revolutionized the way we talk and communicate with each other. This unifying language connects people at great distances and has been copied and magnified by rival mobile companies.

ULBRA - What other aspects of common life connect these two men?
Pr. Lucas - "The big gap," for one. There were spans of time when neither of these men were heard from. Their original achievements were taking a dive. Luther, in hiding due to threats on his life, returned due to other leadership straying from the original Reformation objectives. Jobs, fired from Apple in 1985, resurfaced in 1997 to lead the company from near collapse.
Both Jobs and Luther were firm, communicative and work-obsessed leaders. Luther's written works took years to copy (not to mention how long it took to create these). Revolutionary inventions, the Printing Press and the Internet, gave them the advantage to spread their ideas faster and farther. Both anticipated that the "new technology" would impact people as to how they would think, react and use it. And fundamentally, both had partners, friends and individuals important to them who assisted in making the changes happen. Luther, for example, had Melancthon - a linguist, excellent writer, diplomat and Prince Frederick of Saxony - an influential and powerful leader in government.
Another detail: Jobs, according to some sources, received his Confirmation of beliefs in a Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, CA. That means he would have been instructed in the Small Catechism written by Martin Luther giving Jobs direct contact with the thoughts and teachings of the Protestant Reformer. In addition, the young Jobs would have learned Luther's 3 pillars of the Christian faith: Sola Gratia (only God's grace saves us), Sola Fide (salvation comes through faith in the Trinity) and Sola Scriptura (The Bible alone is the source of God's Truth). Also, Solus Christus - Jesus Christ alone is The Way, The Truth and The Life. Christianity Today's, Andy Crouch, wrote that we can imagine Apple's original logo, a bitten apple with a rainbow inside, is the representation of something essential to Lutheranism: Law and Gospel. Bitten apple refers to sin and condemnation (Law). Rainbow points to God's promises to us through Jesus Christ (Gospel).
ULBRA - October, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of The Reformation. What celebrations are planned?
Pr. Lucas - Lutherans around the world have been anticipating this major celebration for a few years already. Here in Brazil, the two major Lutheran Synods (IELB and IECLB) created an interdenominational commission. One more Luther and Jobs connection is: Lutherans will use The Press along with various digital servers and services.
ULBRA - Pastor Lucas, you mentioned many similarities. What are some differences?
Pr. Lucas - The first main difference is focus. Jobs was deliberately focused on technology. He even creaed a university that passes on what he knew and how he worked, therefore preserving his image and even his myth. Luther focused on The Work of his Master. The 16th Century Reformer is believed to have stated and even overstated, that all his books should be burned. This came close to his time of death when he forsaw a cult image of himself being formed. Martin Luther left a very clear message that The Goal is Jesus Christ." Martin Luther would not be pleased that a Christian denomination has used his name as their own, Lutheran.
In addition, Steve Jobs paid close attention to the users and therefore focused on how to change the history of the tools. Martin Luther, by using the tools, focused on changing the lives of the users telling them of The One who changed their history - Jesus Christ.
Finally, it appears as though Jobs began his life as a Lutheran Christian yet ended it as a Buddhist. Luther began his life as a Roman Catholic Christian and ended it as a Protestant Pastor, remaining Christian. ICloud, released this year by Jobs leaves us wondering: Do they share the same cloud?

To know more:
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IELB – The Lutheran Church in Brazil
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