Martin Luther on Trial


Any actors among my readers? If so, any of you ever itched to play Satan, Hitler, or Johann Tetzel? How about the greater Reformer Martin Luther? Or his wife, perhaps? A call went out a couple of weeks ago: auditions for a new play starring Max McLean called The Trial of Martin Luther. It’s being staged by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts.

My friend John W. Kennedy has an interview with McClean (whose voice you will hear when you play Bible Gateway’s audio scripture of the day).

MAX McCLEAN: Fellowship for Performing Art’s mission is to produce theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience.  We do that by carefully selecting material that, we think, has the ability to reach across the cultural spectrum. Then we execute it to the highest levels that our budgets can afford. Finally we ask people to help us do it.  That’s why we are called Fellowship for Performing Arts. It’s a fellowship of people who believe that art and theatre from a Christian worldview can engage the moral imagination.

As to FPA’s beginning, I was already a theatre artist before I converted to Christianity.  My imagination was captured.  I wanted to know more of it and see if I could integrate my faith into my work.  In order to do that at the level of excellence I wanted, I had to raise funds.  So we incorporated as a non-profit theater company. …

JWK: In February, you’re presenting an original production called Martin Luther on Trial, which you wrote with Chris Cragin-Day. Can you tell me something about that and the point of view it takes on Martin Luther?

MM: Martin Luther on Trial examines Luther’s legacy in the light of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Lucifer is the prosecuting attorney, Luther’s wife Kate acts for the defense, St. Peter is on the bench. The called witnesses are Hitler, Freud, Hans Luther, Rabbi Yosel and Martin Luther King, Jr. We have Pope Francis making an appearance in our play.  It’s a risky endeavor but we have a development process of readings, labs, workshops to make sure it is ready.This will be a development production.  It will not be open for review.  We plan to bring it back in the fall.

My reason for commissioning this play is to look at the inherent scandal of a divided Christianity. All Christians should be humble and charitable about the events that led to the Protestant Reformation or Revolt (depending on your point of view). If we can’t humble ourselves who can? Theatre is a good place for an audience of Protestants, Catholics and those of other beliefs to explore and dialogue about this controversial subject.

McLean was a member of Redeemer Presbyterian when I was a member there, and often would deliver the Scripture readings in his mellifluous baritone. My wife and I saw The Screwtape Letters with McLean Off-Broadway (tickets were a birthday gift from JWK, as it so happens); he’s an enormously talented and spirited actor.

By the by, how many of you know that Luther actually wrote Tetzel post-1517, after the indulgence peddler had been thrown under the bus by the public and ecclesiastical higher-ups? Want to know what Brother Martin said to the man who became the poster-child for works-righteousness?


In short, “Grace to you.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s