Book Review: Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings

 

Westminster Seminary California has just published another one of my book reviews:

Martin Luther is perhaps the most popular figure of theological study, outside secondary literature on the life of Jesus Christ. As the foundational character of Protestantism, to control Luther is to control the reformation. For this reason, some historians have done their best to create a Luther after their own theological image. Today it seems the Luther of faith governs the Luther of history seen with the Luther Renaissance and the Finnish School of interpretation. The former made Luther the German idealist and the later the product of Eastern Orthodoxy. Both camps removed Luther from his actual writings and the 17th century confessional scholastics, who carried on his reform.

Modern schools of interpretation fail to understand that Luther’s theology developed over time. He was an “occasional theologian.” He did not write a single summary of theology but wrote as he had “concrete struggles for the gospel in the context of the sixteenth century church and society.” No single tower experience caused Luther to pen, “If the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost”—such conclusions came after years of study. Reading Luther’s early works may impress a medieval mold. Further reading, however, produces the Protestant Luther. Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings 2nd Edition was “prepared with the special hope that it might be useful in making the writings of Martin Luther available as a resource for contemporary work in theology,” and in so doing will allow the real Luther to stand up. This book comes highly recommended for those who want to know the man and not the myth…continue.

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