Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Luther the Reformer

Kittelson, James M. Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986.

It's really quite amazing that, being a well-read Lutheran and all, that I have never read a biography of Luther. The only reason I read this one was a coworker of mine wanted to read a good biography of Luther, so I asked my pastor for a recommendation, and he loaned me this one. My coworker gave me the book back right before I moved, so I was unable to return it directly to pastor. With the rest of my books packed in boxes, I read this one during the move and my first few day's commute.

My familiarity with Luther's life comes almost entirely from the classic move. It was truly astonishing how much detail was left out of the movie. They chopped off the second half of his life!

The part that most intrigued me, however, was the outsized role played by Elector Frederick the Wise. I knew he was deeply involved in defending Luther, but I had no idea just how far he stuck his neck out. I don’t think anyone could argue that Christians should not be involved in politics after reading a biography of Luther. The entire Reformation could have been snuffed out so easily had not one politically powerful man stood in the way.

Also, as someone who has been raised in the church, it's hard to understand what conversion really means. My faith is so central to who I am, how do you strike out the foundation of your person like that, or is it always as it was with Luther--a gradual weakening followed by a death-blow?

It's really sad what happened to Katie Luther. After Martin died, she spent the rest of her life fleeing from her home. Twice as a refugee from invading armies, and her last trip fleeing the plague--and on that trip her carriage flipped and dumped her into a canal, where she drowned. Not what one might call a happy ending.

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