Book Review – Luther on the Christian Life (Theologians on the Christian Life) (28/8)

Luther may not be the greatest theologian ever, but he is certainly a theologian, a titan, who’s a joy to read. Carl Trueman writes an engaging book on Luther in the “… on Christian Life” series, introducing to readers Luther’s understanding on the christian life.

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (Theologians on the Christian Life)Having finished this book for quite some time, I have to say that this book has been a joy to read and a book that gives the readers a great introduction to Luther’s writing. Trueman starts by introducing Luther to the readers. He writes about his life and the historical context. Next he elaborates what made Luther raised his 95 theses in 1517 how that finally lead to the reformation of the church. Next he brings out key events in Luther’s life, as such his marriage to Katherine von Bora, his disagreement with Zwingli to the extent of even calling Zwingli to be of a different spirit and finally his death in 1546.

After giving the readers a quick lesson on the life of Luther, Trueman brings the readers to one of the key teaching of Luther, the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. Simply put, the theology of glory is what man think about God and how we should serve Him, and the theology of the cross is knowing what God think about how we should serve Him and to serve Him accordingly. This distinction between the theology of the cross and glory is what separates the man who wants to serve God as He commands and man who wants to serve God as he desires.

Next Trueman shows the readers how important the doctrine of the preach word is in the life and ministry of Luther. He bring out the centrality of the Word of God in Luther’s ministry and also Luther’s understanding of the power of God’s word. As I was reading the chapter it is a big reminder to me of how often I see very little power in the power of Word, this is not the case for Luther. He understands and firmly believes in the power of God’s Word and puts the preaching of the word as a central component in the church service. This can be seen in the liturgy used in the service and also the catechism he created to teach children a summary of what the christian life is.

The next topic that Trueman discusses is that of the Lord supper and baptism. Truman brings out the sacramental aspect of Luther’s understanding of both the baptism and the Lord supper. Baptism for Luther is how one begins or enters into the christian life. So important is baptism in Luther’s understanding that he tells his congregation that when they are tempted about their assurance in Christ, they are to remember that they have been baptised, and truly belong to Christ.  The Lord supper is then a sure sign that is repeated reminding them of what Christ has done for them.

Trueman also shows Luther’s understanding of righteousness, and how christians are declared righteous by their faith in Christ. Luther however has learnt over the years that it is not enough to simply preaching the word of God and drink beer in the pub. No, the work in the ministry still requires discipline and instruction. Which is what Luther addresses when talking about the two kinds of righteousness a christian possesses — an alien righteousness and proper righteousness. Alien righteousness is what a christian obtains when he believes in Jesus. That is what puts a believer righteous when he stands before God. But proper righteousness is what is often termed as sanctification, it is what a christian does in killing sin and when he does good to the neighbour. The proper righteousness is therefore an extension of the alien righteousness the christian receives from Christ.

This culminates into the death of Luther in which his last words are “We are beggars, this is true” Luther is clear that despite what he has done and accomplished in light of eternality, he is nothing but a beggar, one who only receives what the good Lord has given so freely.

This book has been a great introduction to Luther, and has made me want to read Luther more. I hope anyone who is interested in Luther will read this book. Highly recommended for those who need an introduction to Luther. As with every other book in this series, I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from reading it and look forward to reading the next book within this series.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review – Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (2/1)

Martin Luther may have been immortalised by the “Here I stand…” quote, but there is so much more to his life than that simple quote.

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin LutherFirst, I must say, this is a full biography. Sometimes biographies can be so short that they merely fill you with the life of the person. These kind of biographies then do not give you to context of what everything is happening. This biography by Roland Bainton however does not have any of these weakness. At at whopping 400 pages, Bainton presents Luther in his context, society and culture.

Bainton allows the reader to go away with a deep understanding of the what was Luther was going through before, during and after the Reformation. At times, Bainton also injects his own evaluation on how Luther handled the various situations in Luther’s life. Within the book, there are also many picture of wood carvings displayed appropriately which really helps the readers to “go back in time”.

Bainton does not only fills the readers with the life of Luther, he fills the readers with knowledge  of the cultural and religious context of Luther in his life. These were very well explain and even as a novice in such matters, I do not find myself confused about it. Bainton not only talks about why Luther called for the Reformation, he also talks about how the Reformation slowly happened, and what followed up from it.

What I gathered from reading the life of Luther is his focus on the importance of the Word. Which was a great reminder for myself as someone who lives after the Reformation, it is easy to take the Word of God for granted and then to neglect it. Next, I see how fearless Luther was to stand for what he thinks is right. That too was a timely reminder for me as a christian, that I should be firm to stand for what I know from the Word of God, is right.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a substantial biography to Luther, but for readers who wants a lighter introduction, I think The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven Lawson would be a better choice.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Free in July (11/7)

Here are some deals that free for the month of July.

Logos – For July, Logos is giving out ‘The Righteousness of Faith according to Luther’ by Hans J. Iwand.

Christian Audio – This month ‘Lion of Babylon’ by Davis Bunn is free. It’s a Christian fiction book.

Ligonier – ‘Jesus the Evangelist: Learning to Share the Gospel from the Book of John‘ is free for this month. This is a good book to read if you want to see how Jesus does evangelism in the gospel of John

Desiring God – T.H.L Parker’s  biography of John Calvin (only for 10th July)

I’ll add more if I see more deals for this month, so do check back often!