You’ve certainly heard of Luther as a Biblical Reformer and perhaps even a Reformer of Church and State, but a reformer of bowling?! That’s right, according to Lutheran Witness Magazine, Martin Luther had a say in the guidelines of Bowling:
Bowling as we know it began in Germany sometime during the fifth century. People pretended that the pins were devils and they used a round rock or heavy ball as a weapon to knock them down. If successful, it indicated they were overcoming the temptations of the devil in their lives. If not, their lives still had too many sins.
So maybe when Paul said, “Christ came for the sinners” he must have also meant “Christ came for very bad bowlers“, but there is more…
The number of pins used varied from three to seventeen. Martin Luther is credited with deciding on nine pins.
Unfortunately, Dr. Luther’s bowling reformation only lasted about 300 years…
In the 1800s, because bowling (or platzbahnkegln as it was then called Germany) was used for gambling, it was outlawed. But the law specified nine-pin bowling. Players added a 10th pin to avoid being illegal.
A life-size diorama at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis portrays Martin Luther bowling on the single lane at the side of his home. A brochure from the museum states that Luther, an avid bowler, “once preached a sermon that proclaimd Christians ‘strive for perfection in life. But when we roll a gutterball, all is not lost.’”
So there you have it, Luther I believe, may very well be the first “Confessional Lutheran Bowler”.
Follow this link for a neat history lesson on one Lutheran Church in America that followed in the footsteps of our great Reformer!