Five new books that look at the man who was the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.
Edited by Jack D. Kilcrease and Erwin W. Lutzer
Excerpt: We can neither forget Luther nor ignore him. Even today his writings constitute a doctrinal divide that has shaped Western Christianity. He wrote and spoke on many topics, such as the relationship of the church and state, Christian marriage, and the growing menace of the Turks who were overrunning parts of Europe. But his greatest contribution had to do with the nature of salvation, the sinfulness of humanity, and the wonder of God’s grace.
By Steven Paulson
Westminster John Knox Press
Publishers’ Overview: In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther started a reformation movement that revolutionized Europe and the history of the Christian faith. His far-reaching reforms of theological understanding and church practices dramatically changed both church and society in Europe and beyond. In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Steven Paulson provides an engaging, concise introduction to Martin Luther’s life and the major themes in his theology.
By Heinz Schilling
Oxford University Press
Excerpt: Martin Luther, the Wittenberg reformer, lived in ‘an age ruled by faith’, as Goethe would have it. Indeed, thanks to Luther, as the medieval period gave way to the modern age, for more than a century dictated the path taken by Germany and Europe. Those years proved ‘splendid, heartening, and fertile’, but could also be dark, disheartening, and destructive. The contradictions of his age were also Luther’s own: he experienced lofty hours of triumph, hopeful that all the world could be convinced, and bitter weeks in which Satan and his dark forces attacked both the reformer and his achievements. But Luther never doubted that God had called him to be his prophet.
By Brad S. Gregory
Excerpt: This is a book about the Reformation and why it still matters. Regardless of our religious views, the Reformation remains important because we can’t understand secular and religious ideas and institutions today without it. What happened five centuries ago affects us today. If we want to know why the early twenty-first century is the way it is – and how it got this way – we need to understand the Reformation and its impact. The Reformation ended the Middle Ages and made the modern world – but not in a simple or straightforward way.
By Thomas Kaufmann
Oxford University Press
Excerpt: The aim of this book is therefore to understand Luther’s attitude to the Jews against a background of his age, which means to view it in the light of what was normal at the time. I shall devote particular attention also to the character and status of his pronouncements and their intended audience; it is of central relevance to be clear about the specific context in which Luther made any given statement. For that reason, I seek to distinguish more clearly the types of text and types of communication he used when speaking about the Jews than ‘Luther scholars’ often do. Bearing in mind the methods and emphases I have indicated, the reader has an opportunity to decide whether and how far Luther’s position, which changed radically between 1523 and 1543, deserves to be called extreme, even judging by the standards of the sixteenth century.