Friday, July 17, 2015

Luther, A Man of Wit and Wisdom...

Right off, author Carl R. Trueman admits he has "loved Luther almost since the moment I first grasped the gospel." Luther has been one of Trueman's "private theological companions," so he was pleased to be asked to write this volume, Luther on the Christian Life, Cross and Freedom,, part of Crossway's series called Theologians on the Christian Life. Trueman, who is not a Lutheran but a church history professor at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, welcomed Robert Kolb of Concordia Seminary, in Saint Louis to write a Forward, and Martin E. Marty, Emeritus Professor at the University of Chicago, to write an Afterword. So let's begin...

Trueman's layout is a bit different for telling the story of Martin Luther's life. He begins with a summary of what's happening in the European world of church history in about 1508 and on, and how Luther fits in with his education, his family, his service to the church. Trueman says that as a theologian and pastor, Luther "was continually wrestling with how his theological insights connected to the lives and experiences of the people under his care." Trueman has long studied and taught on Luther and he believes there was a "personal passion" in Luther that finds "no obvious counterpart in the writings" of other significant theologians of his time.

Next, Trueman begins to describe and study some of the happenings in Luther's life, such as The Indulgence Controversy, The Diet of Worms in 1521, Wartburg in 1522 and Luther's translation of the New Testament into German, Wittenberg in 1525, his marriage to Katharine von Bora. Trueman calls us to think of Luther "as one of us." He says that "at a deeper level, we should see Luther in the way he wrestled with the deepest perennial questions of human, Christian existence." For example: "How can I find a gracious God? What and where is grace? In what does true happiness consist?"

After the section on Luther's life, there are more chapters on events that became important for Lutheranism, in many of which Luther was involved. He may be most notably remembered for his view of justification by grace through faith. He is also considered to be "the man who started the Reformation," with nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517. Luther died in 1546 in Eisleben while on pastoral business. He has left  much of his writing for us to study and enjoy. I have a very nice copy of The Table Talk of Martin Luther, that I enjoy reading and which once belonged to the late Hal Rast, one of my favorite Lutherans.

---Lois Sibley