Most Christians know, at least vaguely, who Martin Luther is. But I'm guessing most Christians don't know that much about him. I am thankful for Thomas Kaufman's book A Short Life of Martin Luther, for presenting Luther's life and theology in an accessible, readable book. Kaufmann, professor of theology at the University of Gottingen, follows Luther's life and career, including his context and influences. But he spends more time on Luther's theological work.
Of course we all (OK, maybe not all, but many of us) know the story of his nailing his "95 Theses" to the Wittenberg door. It was dramatic and historical, but maybe not quite as dramatic as we may have thought: "Luther at first shared them only with some of his close colleagues at Wittenberg as well as, by attachment to a letter, Archbishop Albrecht, the ecclesiastical authority responsible for Wittenberg. He made them known to the wider academic community of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, probably by hammering them onto the church doors, which functioned as the university bulletin board."
Here's what I took away from A Short Life. Luther wasn't just a brilliant thinker and innovative theologian. He was that, and more. But his was not dry theology. He was a passionate follower of Jesus and lover of God's word. He brought grace and the Bible back to the center of the church. Even though the church he loved rejected him, his influence was felt in Rome. And the rest of us--non-Roman Catholic or Easter Orthodox Christians--can thank him for blazing the trail for us.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
2016 Reading Challenge: A book by or about Martin Luther