Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World❰Download❯ ✤ Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World Author Eric Metaxas – Oaklandjobs.co.uk From New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas comes a brilliant and inspiring biography of the most influential man in modern history, Martin Luther, in time for the th anniversary of the Refor FromNew York The Man MOBI õ Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas comes a brilliant and inspiring biography of the most influential man in modern history, Martin Luther, in time for the th anniversary of the Reformation On All Hallow s Eve in , a young monk named Martin Luther posted a document he hoped would spark an academic debate, but that instead ignited a conflagration that Martin Luther: PDF or would forever destroy the world he knew Five hundred years after Luther s now famous Ninety five Theses appeared, Eric Metaxas, acclaimed biographer of the bestselling Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, paints a startling portrait of the wild figure whose adamantine faith cracked the edifice of Western Christendom and dragged medieval Luther: The Man MOBI ò Europe into the future Written in riveting prose and impeccably researched, Martin Luther tells the searing tale of a humble man who, by bringing ugly truths to the highest seats of power, caused the explosion whose sound is still ringing in our ears Luther s monumental faith and courage gave birth to the ideals of liberty, equality, and individualism that today lie at the heart of all modern life. I rather like Martin Luther Admittedly, there isthan I don t know about him than do I think of him as a brave, irascible and earnest believer Not, someone, I would wish to go camping with for a week Sailing would be worse You can t get away from someone else on a small boat He had many flaws feet of clay is the usual euphemism But, he translated the Bible into German for people to read for themselves I respect reading a book for yourself He can t be all bad.So, I am looking forwar I rather like Martin Luther Admittedly, there isthan I don t know about him than do I think of him as a brave, irascible and earnest believer Not, someone, I would wish to go camping with for a week Sailing would be worse You can t get away from someone else on a small boat He had many flaws feet of clay is the usual euphemism But, he translated the Bible into German for people to read for themselves I respect reading a book for yourself He can t be all bad.So, I am looking forward to his new biography Critics and audiences give it rave reviews But, I couldn t like it I kept trying, but this just didn t work for me It seemedan admiring sermon than a biography I realize that a lot of folks are enjoying this book Some are reading it as a part of their Sunday school study I wish them every happiness.I enjoyed some of the hooks used to draw interest to a very long sermon Luther s theological studies, the only book novices were allowed to read was the Bible, but only novices could read the Bible Once you became a monk, your Bible was taken from you Monks only read scholarly books, which is how Luther read the sermons of Jan Hus, a Czech theologian and a key predecessor to Protestantism who was condemned and burned at the stake in 1415, while at the Erfurt monastery In 1510, the 27 year old, Luther made a pilgrimage to Rome He seriously lamented that his parents were still alive and did not qualify for reduced time in purgatory Archaeological study of his childhood home determined that 60% of the Luther family diet was pork There are, also plenty of bones from sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, and geese Suggesting that they were quite well off financially The 1517 posting of the Ninety five Theses on the great wooden doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church never happened The feather of an angel was one of the religious relics at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, along with one complete skeleton of one of the infants killed by Herod in Bethlehem.But, once he dropped the hooks, I lost interest Maybe, I just don t like Metaxas writing It felt like I was reading VeggieTales for adults And, the ridicule of others was tiresome.Regarding the bull, Exurge Domine, 1520, Aetatis 36, he begins, And so it was in these halcyon environs, influenced by the imagery of the hunt, that Leo in his Latin preface to the bull now likened Luther to a wild boar that had invaded the Lord s vineyard Later in the short preface, Luther is magically transformed into a slithering serpent that has invaded the field of the Lord Whether this shift in pejorative bestial imagery from porcine to serpentine was intentional, or whether everyone was simply disinclined to point it out to the profligate pontiff, can never be known This strikes me as mincing ridicule of Luther s advisory And Luther never needed anyone to speak up for him He had self advocacy down pat.In the book s acknowledgments, Metaxas praises his editorial team by writing Though I would never say so publicly, it is a fixed certainty that had Brian and his team been at Viking in the early seventies, Gravity s Rainbow might well be readable and still selling briskly He wrote this to publish for the public to read Well, technically, he didn t say itThere s a bit that I think of as the golden scheisse part I included a couple of sections It should give you an appreciation of the book s style It is in Chapter Five, The Cloaca Experience and works to reconstruct Luther s path to the Ninety five Theses The chapter opens with a quote If our Lord God in his life in das Sheisshaus has given us such noble gifts, what will happen in that eternal life, were everything will be perfect and delightful Martin LutherHere are a couple of paragraphs, they address Aetatis 33 Just a year before his death, Luther wrote a preface to his collected Latin works In it he tells how on the path to his great breakthrough, he had actually come to despise God Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction I did not love yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience Nevertheless I beat importunately upon St Paul at that place Romans 1 17 most ardently desiring to know what St Paul wanted 4 One of the iconic moments from Luther s life has come to be called the tower experience As the story comes to us, it was during this world changing year of 1517 that Luther s struggles with that verse in the book of Romans came to fruition But as with so much else with Luther s story, it is the Luther legend that obscures our view of the actual events of his life and the legend almost always comes to us via Luther s later recollections of what took place decades earlier.Nonetheless, the moment in which the Middle Ages buckled under their own weight and thus gave way to the Reformation and the future seems to have occurred when a single tremendous insight came to Luther, who was at that moment in the so called Cloaca Tower at the Black Cloister in Wittenberg In 1532 and then again in 1545, Luther mentioned what happened at that point, sometime in early 1517.The 1532 comments mentioning this illuminating and life changing moment are much briefer than his own commentary of it is In fact, they are just a single sentence, recorded from his Table Talk by Johannes Schlaginhaufen The German is simply Diese Kunst hat mir der Spiritus Sanctus auf diss Cloaca eingeben The meaning of famous phrase is The Holy Spirit gave me this art in or upon the cloaca But the word cloaca presents the difficulty This is because Luther who couldn t resist making a joke and who often made terribly serious points while joking was implying that God had given him this insight while he was sitting on the toilet Cloaca was the ancient Latin term for sewer and at the time of Luther had come to mean outhouse Not only this, but whereas many English writers incorrectly translate auf a in, most Germans would take auf to mean on or upon which in concert with outhouse or toilet makes perfect sense But we now know that the heated room that was Luther s study for decades and where he therefore did his biblical exegesis was in that part of the monastery located in the tower It so happened, however, that in the base of this tower there was an outhouse Thus this tower was always referred to as the Cloaca Tower, probably by the many monks who went there only when that that particular duty summoned them So even if Luther got the tremendous insight not precisely while indisposed upon the commode but upstairs in his heated study, he nonetheless would have said the cloaca, as was the general habit But in this 1532 comment, Luther was deliberately playing upon the ambiguity by using auf which is to say upon He clearly meant half in jest to convey something along the lines of while on the john And Luther saw in this the very essence of Christian theology God reached down not halfway to meet us in our vileness but all the way down, to the foul dregs of our broken humanity And this holy and loving God dared to touch our lifeless and rotting essence and in doing so underscored that this is the truth about us In fact, we are not sick and in need of healing We are dead and in need of resurrecting We are not dusty and in need of a good dusting we are fatally befouled with death and the hand of God, we remain in our sins and eternally dead So because God respects us, he can reach us only if we are honest about our condition So it fit well with Luther s thinking that if God were to bestow upon him the unworthy sinner Luther such a divine blessing, it must needs be done as he sat grunting in the cloaca This was the ultimate antithesis to the gold and bejeweled splendor of papal Rome There all was gilt, but here in Wittenberg it was all Scheisse But the shit in its honesty as shit was very golden when compared to the pretense and artifice of Roman gold, which itself was indeed as shit when compared to the infinite worth of God s grace That was cheap grace, which was to say it was a truly satanic counterfeit True grace was concealed in the honesty in the unadorned shit of this broken world, and the devil s own shit was concealed in the pope s glittering gold Meaning in this toilet, but literally in this shit house 4 Martin Luther, Luther s Works LW , American Edition, 55 vols., ed Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T Lehman Philadelphia Muehlenberg and Fortress, and St Louis Concordia, 1955 86 , 34 336 37 Luther and those around him were usually fluent or at least conversant in Latin, and we can see from this sentence that Luther often spoke macaronically, which is to say in a language that combined two other languages, in this case German and Latin.bined two other languages, in this case German and Latin First sentence There is no beginning to the story of Martin Luther.I have read a good many biographies of Martin Luther in recent years Some have been short Some have been long Some have focused on the historical Some have focused solely on the theological Some have been compelling Some have been boring.I ll be honest Concise isn t always better There is such a thing as keeping Luther s life story so basic, so simple, so compact that it becomes dull, dry, BORING The problem isn t that First sentence There is no beginning to the story of Martin Luther.I have read a good many biographies of Martin Luther in recent years Some have been short Some have been long Some have focused on the historical Some have focused solely on the theological Some have been compelling Some have been boring.I ll be honest Concise isn t always better There is such a thing as keeping Luther s life story so basic, so simple, so compact that it becomes dull, dry, BORING The problem isn t that Luther led a dull life with hardly anything ever happening Far from it The problem is that putting Martin Luther into context historically, spiritually, theologically takes a lot of words and details Rob a biography of good, substantive, meaty details, and it becomes dull Metaxas biography thrives on details Readers need details not just about Martin Luther himself but about everything Luther cannot be understood apart from his times, apart from his contemporaries, apart from his writings Can Luther be understood fully Can any man or woman be understood fully Any biographer who thinks they have grasped everything there is to grasp and know everything there is to know, and can explain the inner workings of Luther s heart and mind from birth to death aren t to be trusted Luther is not simple His biography shouldn t be simple either.I would definitely recommend this one I found it a compelling read, though not a quick one The bad news Metaxas chapters are super long This almost forces you to slow down your reading to take time with the text That s also the good news There is something to be said for going slow and steady through a book Martin Luther is worth spending time with, worth engaging And you just don t get that when you rush through a book.In a world in which we nearly always associate the Bible with churches and churches with the Bible it is difficult to imagine a time when the two had almost no connection That this changed so dramatically is yet another measure of Luther s immense impact on history 52 By the time Luther entered the monastic life, the one book that novices were allowed to read was in fact the Bible We know that immediately upon entering the monastery, Luther was lent one that was bound in red leather, for he recollected this often in his later years It seems that Luther did not receive the book lightly, for he not only read it but almost devoured it 53 Strangely enough, once a novice became a monk, he was no longer allowed to keep his Bible At that point, he must limit himself to only reading scholarly books, and those while in his cell It seems that only in Luther s private time in the library of the monastery did he have access to the Bible after his novitiate Staupitz saw that for Luther the Bible was not a book like Aristotle s Ethics or like a volume of Livy or Cicero It was the living Word of God and therefore could not be read like any other book It was inspired by God, and when one read it, one must do so in such a way with such closeness and intimacy that one fully intended to feel and smell the breezes of heaven If one missed this aspect, one missed the whole point For Staupitz, to read any other book like this was to be a fool, but to read the Bible in any other way than this was to be twice the fool 68 Therefore, one must not merely see what the devil could see, which is to say the words on a page, but see what only God could see and would reveal to those who desired it, which was in the words and around them too 77 The difference between Luther and many other Christians in this is that he is not afraid to make explicit what is clearly implicitly understood The idea that all Bible verses are technically equal by dint of being part of the Word of God should not prohibit us from saying that some verses areimportant than others Some would say that we can somehow find the Gospel in every jot and tittle of Scripture, because it is alive and should not be read the way we read other books, but even if this is the case, we will look much harder in some verses than in others, where it is on the very surface for everyone to see 293 If ever there was a moment where it can be said the modern world was born, and where the future itself was born, surely it was in that room on April 18 at Worms The teachings and actions of Martin Luther are arguably some of the most important in all of history Whether you agree with his teachings or not, what Martin Luther did shaped so much of history And much like Martin Luther s life, this biography is so important It s an important read for those wanting to better grasp the Protestant If ever there was a moment where it can be said the modern world was born, and where the future itself was born, surely it was in that room on April 18 at Worms The teachings and actions of Martin Luther are arguably some of the most important in all of history Whether you agree with his teachings or not, what Martin Luther did shaped so much of history And much like Martin Luther s life, this biography is so important It s an important read for those wanting to better grasp the Protestant faith or just to better grasp modern history Eric Metaxas does a great job giving an unbiased recount of one of the world s most influential people, while backing it up with a ton of research I learned so much from this book Highly recommend This is one of my favorite books this year Not only does Metaxis tell a lively and entertaining story of Luther s life, he explains how world changing his stand for the truth really was This is truly when the modern world began For better and for worse The ideas that we take for granted in our pluralistic society freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and the notion that might doesn t make right were birthed in Wittenberg exactly 500 years ago. One of the most difficult seriously written biographical books on a serious topic I ve had the misfortune of plodding through I read that some readers found the author s style engaging and witty I only found his writing style simplistic, pompous, and cringe worthy In almost every other line, Metaxes writes with excessive superlatives and gross exaggerations He butchers the beauty of simple writing by filling his sentences with needless hyperbole and fillers, such as truly, very, gre One of the most difficult seriously written biographical books on a serious topic I ve had the misfortune of plodding through I read that some readers found the author s style engaging and witty I only found his writing style simplistic, pompous, and cringe worthy In almost every other line, Metaxes writes with excessive superlatives and gross exaggerations He butchers the beauty of simple writing by filling his sentences with needless hyperbole and fillers, such as truly, very, great, and honestly Take this sentence Luther honestly wanted to cause reform to happen What other way is there but to want something in honesty Amazingly, this man is a bestselling author of scholarly works I ll need to find areadable book on the life of Luther Preferably, one that is written cleanly and simply I gave two stars because the book has a credible outline TOC and does provide a decent biographical sketch of Luther s life A definitely well written and thoroughly researched book portraying life and vision of a man who did change the world of religion I recommend it to anyone interested in Martin Luther It takes some time to read the book but the effort is worthwhile. Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV worse than that otherwisePer the first half of my header, that s the only reason I rated this book with two stars rather than one Well, take that back I eventually did go down to one star Even though Metaxas discusses Luther s differences with the Reformed on the Eucharist, and a lesser degree on other things, and even tries to take a look at both the philosophy and theology behind this while failing as much as succeeding , Meta Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV worse than that otherwisePer the first half of my header, that s the only reason I rated this book with two stars rather than one Well, take that back I eventually did go down to one star Even though Metaxas discusses Luther s differences with the Reformed on the Eucharist, and a lesser degree on other things, and even tries to take a look at both the philosophy and theology behind this while failing as much as succeeding , Metaxas still tries to paint Luther as a modern American conservative Evangelical rather than as a German Evangelical, ie, Lutheran.The epilogue, trying to pretend Luther was some sort of forerunner of modern Western democracy, only made this worse andlaughable at the same time Again, though, the fact that it s being tried, and will probably be tried by others from now through maybe 2030, with the 500th anniversary events, gets it that second star rather than 1.That said, there s other errors, mainly errors of fact, though a few others of interpretation, like those above.I actually was originally going to rate it three stars, despite the above, but two errors late in the book got it knocked down to two stars, and almost to one, in spite of me wanting to hold it up as an example.OK, let s dive into those errors.First, after debunking several Luther myths in the introduction, Metaxas perpetuates two BIGGIES himself.In reality, the consensus of good historians is that Luther did NOT nail, paste, or otherwise affix a sheet or two of 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on Oct 31, 1517.A similar consensus says that Luther did NOT say Here I stand at the Diet of Worms.OK, next Erasmus did NOT restore first century Greek to his edition of the New Testament Instead, his textus receptus was similar to that in the Orthodox world of this time Erasmus didn t have Sinaiticus, Vaticanus or other older codices, nor did he have the treasure of modern papyri finds Also, Erasmus had no detailed methodology of textual criticism.Tonsuring It s Christian martyrological legend that emperors inflicted it upon apostles or later generations of Christians That said, per the likes of Candida Moss, the severity and broadness of Roman Imperial persecution of Christians has itself been mythologized Finally, although in these cases it involves shaving the head entirely, not just in spots, tonsuring like practices are known to other world religions.The idea that Luther didn t have a modern idea of consciousness Well, Metaxas sets up a straw man by claiming that what he calls the modern idea of consciousness is modern Less than a century after Luther, Shakespeare has Polonius in Hamlet say To thine own self be true And, a full 2,000 years earlier, the oracle at Delphi said Know thyself And, from that, Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living Of course, Metaxas is here ultimately setting up a bank shot for how Luther was different from today, but yet, was a lead in to Merika or something.After Erasmus, Metaxas trips on his Greek New Testament again While the verb synago is in the New Testament in various forms, including as a participle for gathering together for worship, including gathering for the Eucharist, the noun synaxis is not It is used in post NT writings, I believe beginning as early as the Didache, but the noun is not in the NT.Now, the two biggies, which give the game up.On page 391, Metaxas claims that Suleiman the Magnificent, as part of expanding the Ottoman Empire, was trying to expand sharia law.Tosh and rot The Turks, and their Central Asian Turkic cousins, have been known for their generally moderate interpretation of Islam And the Ottoman Empire was known for its millet system, which gave a relatively high degree of freedom to its Christian and Jewish residents Given that Metaxas, if not a full blown right winger, hangs out with a lot of conservative politicos and is a talking head for a major right wing radio network, I can only consider this to be rank pandering.Page 417 follows in its train Metaxas claims that Luther, in his anti Jewish diatribes, was influenced by Victory over the Godless Hebrews, which he claims contain things which we now know to be untrue Among this, he lists Jewish blasphemies against Jesus and Mary, and claims by Jews that Jesus did his miracles by kabbalistic magic.Deleting the kabbalistic, as it didn t exist 2,000 years ago, and actually, these things ARE true.Metaxas is either ignorant of some things written in the Talmud, and evenin the Toledoth Yeshu, or he s heard about such things and refuses to investigate, or thirdly, he fully knows about them and covers them up This does NOT mean, though, that the Talmud contains blood libels against Christianity or anything close But, yes, the above materials do claim that Jesus was a mamzer and a magician.In any case, I suspect political leanings not just of general conservativism, but specifically neoconservativism, are now in play.And, with that, I decided that this book could be held up as an example of wrongness AND get one star instead of two as well This is not a good book It is entertaining, but horribly biased I can deal with that and stupidly inaccurate For example, Salve Regina does NOT mean Save us, Mary in Latin So, using that as moment to riff on how medieval Christians depended on saints to save them wrong, wrong and wrong.I could go on, but as I shared these little tidbits with a friend who is a respected Reformation historian at a Lutheran college, he said, Why are you reading something that stupid and suggested L This is not a good book It is entertaining, but horribly biased I can deal with that and stupidly inaccurate For example, Salve Regina does NOT mean Save us, Mary in Latin So, using that as moment to riff on how medieval Christians depended on saints to save them wrong, wrong and wrong.I could go on, but as I shared these little tidbits with a friend who is a respected Reformation historian at a Lutheran college, he said, Why are you reading something that stupid and suggested Luther by Lyndal Roper So, I switched to something respectable It s good, and sometimes essential, to know an author s background and how she or he approaches things I had read forty or so pages of Eric Metaxas biography of Martin Luther before I began wondering a little about the author Martin Luther is presented in a style that is educated, lively, and is seasoned by wit and panache Reading it is easy The book also has benefited, quite clearly, from a good deal of research The details are there But they suffuse the text in a way that s subtle T It s good, and sometimes essential, to know an author s background and how she or he approaches things I had read forty or so pages of Eric Metaxas biography of Martin Luther before I began wondering a little about the author Martin Luther is presented in a style that is educated, lively, and is seasoned by wit and panache Reading it is easy The book also has benefited, quite clearly, from a good deal of research The details are there But they suffuse the text in a way that s subtle They don t hit you over the head inelegantly.After about forty or so pages, I began wondering about some of the wording It was a sort of idle wonder, not one inspired by uneasiness or any kind of panic There were statements made about the beliefs that some of the people in Luther s story are reported to have held These statements, it seemed to me, sounded almost as though Metaxas had actually met those people and questioned them as to what they thought, and why they thought the way they did They were statements that seemed to be based, directly somehow, on faith I concluded that they were based on faith, but the faith was that of Metaxas himself A little digging was enough to discover that Metaxas is something of an evangelical, although exactly what that term means today, or should mean, is less than clear to me.What goes for authors also applies to book reviewers, so it s time for some disclosure from me I m not religious in any traditional sense Of course, that doesn t mean that I m not religious in any sense I don t like any easy assumption that I, as a reader, will accept uncritically a religious stance just because I happen to be reading a book that involves religion And I certainly don t like to have God shoved in my face On apositive note, I love history and philosophy, I m a techie retired from an engineering career, and I adore good writing, in any language.But let me be very clear Metaxas, to my reading, does not make assumptions on my behalf nor shove religion in my face His own faith does seem to shine through his prose, but that seems not to have affected his willingness or ability to tell a story well and honestly.So, allow me to tally the good points of this book I will say up front that I have not found any bad points, although I will state some reservations at the end of this review.Readability The book is a pleasure to read The text is engaging, and manages to sustain a flow of factual information in a way that seems effortless.Presentation Metaxas uses English that is subtle, sophisticated, seems to be mid Atlantic quite often, and arresting metaphors and descriptive passages bubble from it The production is excellent In all the 446 pages, I noticed only one very, very minor typo, a missing period Something like this requires great application, and even then is not easy to achieve.History It seems clear to me that Metaxas knows his history All I can say about that is Bravo One thing brought out by the book was the role played by the recently developed printing press in bringing Luther and his message to prominence and to so many people Another was the role played by Luther in communicating with the people in Saxony and to all who read German in a way they could understand, and even to having a major impact on the German language itself.Research Having myself spent a good deal of time in Germany, having visited the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg, spent some in Torgau, Eisleben, and Erfurt, having visited the Wartburg, I got the clear sense from Metaxas text that I was reading something produced by a well informed mind, someone who had spent time at the sites he was writing about, and gave me confidence to accept what I was reading at face value For a writer to project whatever is needed to inspire this sort of confidence speaks volumes At least it does for me.Characters Metaxas book isn t fiction, so a discussion of character development would be out of place But there s no doubt that a full range of characters was involved, people who had markedly different outlooks, and strongly held views across a range of subjects And although Luther faced individuals who were indeed bitter enemies, one gets from the book no sense that everyone wore either a white hat or a black hat, in the good guys and bad guys sense, of course This book is a story of a man s struggle, and what that struggle meant for him and for the wider world.Some ReservationsMy few reservations arose as I read the epilogue to the book, an epilogue that is entitled The Man Who Created The Future Here I thought that things went a tad hyperbolic This could be explained in terms of the narrative fallacy This fallacy reflects the fact that in prospect it is difficult or impossible to predict, reliably, what the future will look like by postulating what things are likely to happen, whereas retrospect, when we know what did happen, it s easy to find reasons to explain why what happened did happen The fact that it s a fallacy is hidden by the reality, that of all the many possible outcomes we have only one to explain i.e what really did happen And we find we can explain it So we must be right Right Alas, too easy.During investigations of industrial accidents, finding the root cause and contributing factors in order to prevent or avoid recurrences is rarely easy or simple In determining what happened in history and why, when often the facts are not known clearly, where we have essentially no control, and where there s no assurance that we know even what factors were involved, and where chance and unknown hidden events might be important, we are on different ground In the text below, I have tried to raise some relevant questions.Luther was certainly a major figure in the intellectual history of the Western world But to maintain that he created the future seems to go too far Seen exclusively from within a religious context, one might let that kind of statement pass, but Metaxas makes it clear that he considers Luther s seminal influence to have stretched across pretty much the entire field of human endeavour Some of the section headings in the epilogue, shown in quotation marks below, indicate this The Free Market of Ideas Here we seem to leap to a twentieth century view of things, but one shaded by a fair bit of religious commentary The term free market is a give away Problems With Pluralism A fascinating and hugely significant topic, but it s important to remember that Luther hoped to be a fixer, he wanted to repair the faults in the Catholic Church, not replace that church What would he have understood by the term pluralism , a word that didn t appear in English until 1818 Did the concept exist in a clear form in Luther s day, possibly under another name I don t know But the use of the word pluralism here carries a whiff of teleology, implying that we now live in a much better world, and we were led here by divine guidance Democracy and Freedom That so many people today in the West have the good fortune to live under, and be guided by, and be governed by, the institutions we have always makes me tingle There are many aspects of these institutions that could be improved, and their imperfections occasionally allow leaders to emerge who are dangerous, ill informed, toxically ideological, and any combination of these But, welcome to our world In a section entitled Democracy and Freedom , I would have expected a hint that there was some clear lineage connecting Luther and, for example, Isaiah Berlin I would have hoped to see some reference to the conflicts inherent in the idea of freedom, as is expressed for example by freedom from and freedom to , and how those two ubiquitous demands are dealt with in any situation, as they must be, somehow The assumed teleological link between Luther and the American Revolution is also buried in the text here Social Reforms Reaching from Luther to the abolition of slavery is to stretch, incredibly for me, across a huge chasm The End of History I was put off entirely by this heading It resurrected I know, a somewhat malicious choice of words, but a deliberate one images of Francis Fukuyama and his lamentable triumphalist tract.Luther s contributions were indeed considerable, they represented something of a pivot point, and almost certainly they did hint at, facilitate, or enable future changes in a number of areas His ideas and his work are not belittled by being placed reasonably within a larger historical canvas Nor do we do him any favours by exaggerating what he achieved.OverallEric Metaxas book Martin Luther is superb It is informative and a delight to read My few reservations don t dim any of that for me Maybe 4.25 Metaxas is excellent as a biographer He makes the story come to life and turns it into a page turner His witty, joking style is enjoyable, but you can also see what an intelligent man he is I have loved every biography he has written.I grew up Lutheran and heard much about Martin Luther and his 95 theses Reformation day was like a holiday in our school and I even remember having a cake made in the shape of the Luther s coat of arms one year I was surprised to hear many of the th Maybe 4.25 Metaxas is excellent as a biographer He makes the story come to life and turns it into a page turner His witty, joking style is enjoyable, but you can also see what an intelligent man he is I have loved every biography he has written.I grew up Lutheran and heard much about Martin Luther and his 95 theses Reformation day was like a holiday in our school and I even remember having a cake made in the shape of the Luther s coat of arms one year I was surprised to hear many of the things we learned about Luther were incorrect Metaxas clears up most of what is legend and presents what the actual facts about Luther are I enjoyed how much he quoted personal letters and documents from Luther s life What I found most interesting was seeingwhat the church was like at the time of the Reformation No one read the Bible or even knew what it said even the church leaders , church services were in a language most people could not understand It seems like God s Word was veiled for hundreds of years how did God allow it to be like that for so long Although Luther definitely had his flaws, he mostly is a likable character who reminds me of many of my blunt German Lutheran extended family members He unknowingly started something that changed the trajectory of the church and religious freedom forever What he accomplished in short years is unbelievable He definitely is one of the most impactful people of history A few questions I had when he is hiding out in Wartburg, afraid for his life, he comes back to Wittenberg and all is fine Why were there no attempts on his life then I could not handle what the weddings were like of his day What the heck How was that considered okay I also thought Frederick s dream in the appendix was interesting I wanted to knowabout where it came from or if it was reliable at all But all in all, a great and interesting read published right in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed
    This guide aims to show you how to download cracked the edifice of Western Christendom and dragged medieval Luther: The Man MOBI ò Europe into the future Written in riveting prose and impeccably researched, Martin Luther tells the searing tale of a humble man who, by bringing ugly truths to the highest seats of power, caused the explosion whose sound is still ringing in our ears Luther s monumental faith and courage gave birth to the ideals of liberty, equality, and individualism that today lie at the heart of all modern life. I rather like Martin Luther Admittedly, there isthan I don t know about him than do I think of him as a brave, irascible and earnest believer Not, someone, I would wish to go camping with for a week Sailing would be worse You can t get away from someone else on a small boat He had many flaws feet of clay is the usual euphemism But, he translated the Bible into German for people to read for themselves I respect reading a book for yourself He can t be all bad.So, I am looking forwar I rather like Martin Luther Admittedly, there isthan I don t know about him than do I think of him as a brave, irascible and earnest believer Not, someone, I would wish to go camping with for a week Sailing would be worse You can t get away from someone else on a small boat He had many flaws feet of clay is the usual euphemism But, he translated the Bible into German for people to read for themselves I respect reading a book for yourself He can t be all bad.So, I am looking forward to his new biography Critics and audiences give it rave reviews But, I couldn t like it I kept trying, but this just didn t work for me It seemedan admiring sermon than a biography I realize that a lot of folks are enjoying this book Some are reading it as a part of their Sunday school study I wish them every happiness.I enjoyed some of the hooks used to draw interest to a very long sermon Luther s theological studies, the only book novices were allowed to read was the Bible, but only novices could read the Bible Once you became a monk, your Bible was taken from you Monks only read scholarly books, which is how Luther read the sermons of Jan Hus, a Czech theologian and a key predecessor to Protestantism who was condemned and burned at the stake in 1415, while at the Erfurt monastery In 1510, the 27 year old, Luther made a pilgrimage to Rome He seriously lamented that his parents were still alive and did not qualify for reduced time in purgatory Archaeological study of his childhood home determined that 60% of the Luther family diet was pork There are, also plenty of bones from sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, and geese Suggesting that they were quite well off financially The 1517 posting of the Ninety five Theses on the great wooden doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church never happened The feather of an angel was one of the religious relics at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, along with one complete skeleton of one of the infants killed by Herod in Bethlehem.But, once he dropped the hooks, I lost interest Maybe, I just don t like Metaxas writing It felt like I was reading VeggieTales for adults And, the ridicule of others was tiresome.Regarding the bull, Exurge Domine, 1520, Aetatis 36, he begins, And so it was in these halcyon environs, influenced by the imagery of the hunt, that Leo in his Latin preface to the bull now likened Luther to a wild boar that had invaded the Lord s vineyard Later in the short preface, Luther is magically transformed into a slithering serpent that has invaded the field of the Lord Whether this shift in pejorative bestial imagery from porcine to serpentine was intentional, or whether everyone was simply disinclined to point it out to the profligate pontiff, can never be known This strikes me as mincing ridicule of Luther s advisory And Luther never needed anyone to speak up for him He had self advocacy down pat.In the book s acknowledgments, Metaxas praises his editorial team by writing Though I would never say so publicly, it is a fixed certainty that had Brian and his team been at Viking in the early seventies, Gravity s Rainbow might well be readable and still selling briskly He wrote this to publish for the public to read Well, technically, he didn t say itThere s a bit that I think of as the golden scheisse part I included a couple of sections It should give you an appreciation of the book s style It is in Chapter Five, The Cloaca Experience and works to reconstruct Luther s path to the Ninety five Theses The chapter opens with a quote If our Lord God in his life in das Sheisshaus has given us such noble gifts, what will happen in that eternal life, were everything will be perfect and delightful Martin LutherHere are a couple of paragraphs, they address Aetatis 33 Just a year before his death, Luther wrote a preface to his collected Latin works In it he tells how on the path to his great breakthrough, he had actually come to despise God Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction I did not love yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience Nevertheless I beat importunately upon St Paul at that place Romans 1 17 most ardently desiring to know what St Paul wanted 4 One of the iconic moments from Luther s life has come to be called the tower experience As the story comes to us, it was during this world changing year of 1517 that Luther s struggles with that verse in the book of Romans came to fruition But as with so much else with Luther s story, it is the Luther legend that obscures our view of the actual events of his life and the legend almost always comes to us via Luther s later recollections of what took place decades earlier.Nonetheless, the moment in which the Middle Ages buckled under their own weight and thus gave way to the Reformation and the future seems to have occurred when a single tremendous insight came to Luther, who was at that moment in the so called Cloaca Tower at the Black Cloister in Wittenberg In 1532 and then again in 1545, Luther mentioned what happened at that point, sometime in early 1517.The 1532 comments mentioning this illuminating and life changing moment are much briefer than his own commentary of it is In fact, they are just a single sentence, recorded from his Table Talk by Johannes Schlaginhaufen The German is simply Diese Kunst hat mir der Spiritus Sanctus auf diss Cloaca eingeben The meaning of famous phrase is The Holy Spirit gave me this art in or upon the cloaca But the word cloaca presents the difficulty This is because Luther who couldn t resist making a joke and who often made terribly serious points while joking was implying that God had given him this insight while he was sitting on the toilet Cloaca was the ancient Latin term for sewer and at the time of Luther had come to mean outhouse Not only this, but whereas many English writers incorrectly translate auf a in, most Germans would take auf to mean on or upon which in concert with outhouse or toilet makes perfect sense But we now know that the heated room that was Luther s study for decades and where he therefore did his biblical exegesis was in that part of the monastery located in the tower It so happened, however, that in the base of this tower there was an outhouse Thus this tower was always referred to as the Cloaca Tower, probably by the many monks who went there only when that that particular duty summoned them So even if Luther got the tremendous insight not precisely while indisposed upon the commode but upstairs in his heated study, he nonetheless would have said the cloaca, as was the general habit But in this 1532 comment, Luther was deliberately playing upon the ambiguity by using auf which is to say upon He clearly meant half in jest to convey something along the lines of while on the john And Luther saw in this the very essence of Christian theology God reached down not halfway to meet us in our vileness but all the way down, to the foul dregs of our broken humanity And this holy and loving God dared to touch our lifeless and rotting essence and in doing so underscored that this is the truth about us In fact, we are not sick and in need of healing We are dead and in need of resurrecting We are not dusty and in need of a good dusting we are fatally befouled with death and the hand of God, we remain in our sins and eternally dead So because God respects us, he can reach us only if we are honest about our condition So it fit well with Luther s thinking that if God were to bestow upon him the unworthy sinner Luther such a divine blessing, it must needs be done as he sat grunting in the cloaca This was the ultimate antithesis to the gold and bejeweled splendor of papal Rome There all was gilt, but here in Wittenberg it was all Scheisse But the shit in its honesty as shit was very golden when compared to the pretense and artifice of Roman gold, which itself was indeed as shit when compared to the infinite worth of God s grace That was cheap grace, which was to say it was a truly satanic counterfeit True grace was concealed in the honesty in the unadorned shit of this broken world, and the devil s own shit was concealed in the pope s glittering gold Meaning in this toilet, but literally in this shit house 4 Martin Luther, Luther s Works LW , American Edition, 55 vols., ed Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T Lehman Philadelphia Muehlenberg and Fortress, and St Louis Concordia, 1955 86 , 34 336 37 Luther and those around him were usually fluent or at least conversant in Latin, and we can see from this sentence that Luther often spoke macaronically, which is to say in a language that combined two other languages, in this case German and Latin.bined two other languages, in this case German and Latin First sentence There is no beginning to the story of Martin Luther.I have read a good many biographies of Martin Luther in recent years Some have been short Some have been long Some have focused on the historical Some have focused solely on the theological Some have been compelling Some have been boring.I ll be honest Concise isn t always better There is such a thing as keeping Luther s life story so basic, so simple, so compact that it becomes dull, dry, BORING The problem isn t that First sentence There is no beginning to the story of Martin Luther.I have read a good many biographies of Martin Luther in recent years Some have been short Some have been long Some have focused on the historical Some have focused solely on the theological Some have been compelling Some have been boring.I ll be honest Concise isn t always better There is such a thing as keeping Luther s life story so basic, so simple, so compact that it becomes dull, dry, BORING The problem isn t that Luther led a dull life with hardly anything ever happening Far from it The problem is that putting Martin Luther into context historically, spiritually, theologically takes a lot of words and details Rob a biography of good, substantive, meaty details, and it becomes dull Metaxas biography thrives on details Readers need details not just about Martin Luther himself but about everything Luther cannot be understood apart from his times, apart from his contemporaries, apart from his writings Can Luther be understood fully Can any man or woman be understood fully Any biographer who thinks they have grasped everything there is to grasp and know everything there is to know, and can explain the inner workings of Luther s heart and mind from birth to death aren t to be trusted Luther is not simple His biography shouldn t be simple either.I would definitely recommend this one I found it a compelling read, though not a quick one The bad news Metaxas chapters are super long This almost forces you to slow down your reading to take time with the text That s also the good news There is something to be said for going slow and steady through a book Martin Luther is worth spending time with, worth engaging And you just don t get that when you rush through a book.In a world in which we nearly always associate the Bible with churches and churches with the Bible it is difficult to imagine a time when the two had almost no connection That this changed so dramatically is yet another measure of Luther s immense impact on history 52 By the time Luther entered the monastic life, the one book that novices were allowed to read was in fact the Bible We know that immediately upon entering the monastery, Luther was lent one that was bound in red leather, for he recollected this often in his later years It seems that Luther did not receive the book lightly, for he not only read it but almost devoured it 53 Strangely enough, once a novice became a monk, he was no longer allowed to keep his Bible At that point, he must limit himself to only reading scholarly books, and those while in his cell It seems that only in Luther s private time in the library of the monastery did he have access to the Bible after his novitiate Staupitz saw that for Luther the Bible was not a book like Aristotle s Ethics or like a volume of Livy or Cicero It was the living Word of God and therefore could not be read like any other book It was inspired by God, and when one read it, one must do so in such a way with such closeness and intimacy that one fully intended to feel and smell the breezes of heaven If one missed this aspect, one missed the whole point For Staupitz, to read any other book like this was to be a fool, but to read the Bible in any other way than this was to be twice the fool 68 Therefore, one must not merely see what the devil could see, which is to say the words on a page, but see what only God could see and would reveal to those who desired it, which was in the words and around them too 77 The difference between Luther and many other Christians in this is that he is not afraid to make explicit what is clearly implicitly understood The idea that all Bible verses are technically equal by dint of being part of the Word of God should not prohibit us from saying that some verses areimportant than others Some would say that we can somehow find the Gospel in every jot and tittle of Scripture, because it is alive and should not be read the way we read other books, but even if this is the case, we will look much harder in some verses than in others, where it is on the very surface for everyone to see 293 If ever there was a moment where it can be said the modern world was born, and where the future itself was born, surely it was in that room on April 18 at Worms The teachings and actions of Martin Luther are arguably some of the most important in all of history Whether you agree with his teachings or not, what Martin Luther did shaped so much of history And much like Martin Luther s life, this biography is so important It s an important read for those wanting to better grasp the Protestant If ever there was a moment where it can be said the modern world was born, and where the future itself was born, surely it was in that room on April 18 at Worms The teachings and actions of Martin Luther are arguably some of the most important in all of history Whether you agree with his teachings or not, what Martin Luther did shaped so much of history And much like Martin Luther s life, this biography is so important It s an important read for those wanting to better grasp the Protestant faith or just to better grasp modern history Eric Metaxas does a great job giving an unbiased recount of one of the world s most influential people, while backing it up with a ton of research I learned so much from this book Highly recommend This is one of my favorite books this year Not only does Metaxis tell a lively and entertaining story of Luther s life, he explains how world changing his stand for the truth really was This is truly when the modern world began For better and for worse The ideas that we take for granted in our pluralistic society freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and the notion that might doesn t make right were birthed in Wittenberg exactly 500 years ago. One of the most difficult seriously written biographical books on a serious topic I ve had the misfortune of plodding through I read that some readers found the author s style engaging and witty I only found his writing style simplistic, pompous, and cringe worthy In almost every other line, Metaxes writes with excessive superlatives and gross exaggerations He butchers the beauty of simple writing by filling his sentences with needless hyperbole and fillers, such as truly, very, gre One of the most difficult seriously written biographical books on a serious topic I ve had the misfortune of plodding through I read that some readers found the author s style engaging and witty I only found his writing style simplistic, pompous, and cringe worthy In almost every other line, Metaxes writes with excessive superlatives and gross exaggerations He butchers the beauty of simple writing by filling his sentences with needless hyperbole and fillers, such as truly, very, great, and honestly Take this sentence Luther honestly wanted to cause reform to happen What other way is there but to want something in honesty Amazingly, this man is a bestselling author of scholarly works I ll need to find areadable book on the life of Luther Preferably, one that is written cleanly and simply I gave two stars because the book has a credible outline TOC and does provide a decent biographical sketch of Luther s life A definitely well written and thoroughly researched book portraying life and vision of a man who did change the world of religion I recommend it to anyone interested in Martin Luther It takes some time to read the book but the effort is worthwhile. Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV worse than that otherwisePer the first half of my header, that s the only reason I rated this book with two stars rather than one Well, take that back I eventually did go down to one star Even though Metaxas discusses Luther s differences with the Reformed on the Eucharist, and a lesser degree on other things, and even tries to take a look at both the philosophy and theology behind this while failing as much as succeeding , Meta Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV worse than that otherwisePer the first half of my header, that s the only reason I rated this book with two stars rather than one Well, take that back I eventually did go down to one star Even though Metaxas discusses Luther s differences with the Reformed on the Eucharist, and a lesser degree on other things, and even tries to take a look at both the philosophy and theology behind this while failing as much as succeeding , Metaxas still tries to paint Luther as a modern American conservative Evangelical rather than as a German Evangelical, ie, Lutheran.The epilogue, trying to pretend Luther was some sort of forerunner of modern Western democracy, only made this worse andlaughable at the same time Again, though, the fact that it s being tried, and will probably be tried by others from now through maybe 2030, with the 500th anniversary events, gets it that second star rather than 1.That said, there s other errors, mainly errors of fact, though a few others of interpretation, like those above.I actually was originally going to rate it three stars, despite the above, but two errors late in the book got it knocked down to two stars, and almost to one, in spite of me wanting to hold it up as an example.OK, let s dive into those errors.First, after debunking several Luther myths in the introduction, Metaxas perpetuates two BIGGIES himself.In reality, the consensus of good historians is that Luther did NOT nail, paste, or otherwise affix a sheet or two of 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on Oct 31, 1517.A similar consensus says that Luther did NOT say Here I stand at the Diet of Worms.OK, next Erasmus did NOT restore first century Greek to his edition of the New Testament Instead, his textus receptus was similar to that in the Orthodox world of this time Erasmus didn t have Sinaiticus, Vaticanus or other older codices, nor did he have the treasure of modern papyri finds Also, Erasmus had no detailed methodology of textual criticism.Tonsuring It s Christian martyrological legend that emperors inflicted it upon apostles or later generations of Christians That said, per the likes of Candida Moss, the severity and broadness of Roman Imperial persecution of Christians has itself been mythologized Finally, although in these cases it involves shaving the head entirely, not just in spots, tonsuring like practices are known to other world religions.The idea that Luther didn t have a modern idea of consciousness Well, Metaxas sets up a straw man by claiming that what he calls the modern idea of consciousness is modern Less than a century after Luther, Shakespeare has Polonius in Hamlet say To thine own self be true And, a full 2,000 years earlier, the oracle at Delphi said Know thyself And, from that, Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living Of course, Metaxas is here ultimately setting up a bank shot for how Luther was different from today, but yet, was a lead in to Merika or something.After Erasmus, Metaxas trips on his Greek New Testament again While the verb synago is in the New Testament in various forms, including as a participle for gathering together for worship, including gathering for the Eucharist, the noun synaxis is not It is used in post NT writings, I believe beginning as early as the Didache, but the noun is not in the NT.Now, the two biggies, which give the game up.On page 391, Metaxas claims that Suleiman the Magnificent, as part of expanding the Ottoman Empire, was trying to expand sharia law.Tosh and rot The Turks, and their Central Asian Turkic cousins, have been known for their generally moderate interpretation of Islam And the Ottoman Empire was known for its millet system, which gave a relatively high degree of freedom to its Christian and Jewish residents Given that Metaxas, if not a full blown right winger, hangs out with a lot of conservative politicos and is a talking head for a major right wing radio network, I can only consider this to be rank pandering.Page 417 follows in its train Metaxas claims that Luther, in his anti Jewish diatribes, was influenced by Victory over the Godless Hebrews, which he claims contain things which we now know to be untrue Among this, he lists Jewish blasphemies against Jesus and Mary, and claims by Jews that Jesus did his miracles by kabbalistic magic.Deleting the kabbalistic, as it didn t exist 2,000 years ago, and actually, these things ARE true.Metaxas is either ignorant of some things written in the Talmud, and evenin the Toledoth Yeshu, or he s heard about such things and refuses to investigate, or thirdly, he fully knows about them and covers them up This does NOT mean, though, that the Talmud contains blood libels against Christianity or anything close But, yes, the above materials do claim that Jesus was a mamzer and a magician.In any case, I suspect political leanings not just of general conservativism, but specifically neoconservativism, are now in play.And, with that, I decided that this book could be held up as an example of wrongness AND get one star instead of two as well This is not a good book It is entertaining, but horribly biased I can deal with that and stupidly inaccurate For example, Salve Regina does NOT mean Save us, Mary in Latin So, using that as moment to riff on how medieval Christians depended on saints to save them wrong, wrong and wrong.I could go on, but as I shared these little tidbits with a friend who is a respected Reformation historian at a Lutheran college, he said, Why are you reading something that stupid and suggested L This is not a good book It is entertaining, but horribly biased I can deal with that and stupidly inaccurate For example, Salve Regina does NOT mean Save us, Mary in Latin So, using that as moment to riff on how medieval Christians depended on saints to save them wrong, wrong and wrong.I could go on, but as I shared these little tidbits with a friend who is a respected Reformation historian at a Lutheran college, he said, Why are you reading something that stupid and suggested Luther by Lyndal Roper So, I switched to something respectable It s good, and sometimes essential, to know an author s background and how she or he approaches things I had read forty or so pages of Eric Metaxas biography of Martin Luther before I began wondering a little about the author Martin Luther is presented in a style that is educated, lively, and is seasoned by wit and panache Reading it is easy The book also has benefited, quite clearly, from a good deal of research The details are there But they suffuse the text in a way that s subtle T It s good, and sometimes essential, to know an author s background and how she or he approaches things I had read forty or so pages of Eric Metaxas biography of Martin Luther before I began wondering a little about the author Martin Luther is presented in a style that is educated, lively, and is seasoned by wit and panache Reading it is easy The book also has benefited, quite clearly, from a good deal of research The details are there But they suffuse the text in a way that s subtle They don t hit you over the head inelegantly.After about forty or so pages, I began wondering about some of the wording It was a sort of idle wonder, not one inspired by uneasiness or any kind of panic There were statements made about the beliefs that some of the people in Luther s story are reported to have held These statements, it seemed to me, sounded almost as though Metaxas had actually met those people and questioned them as to what they thought, and why they thought the way they did They were statements that seemed to be based, directly somehow, on faith I concluded that they were based on faith, but the faith was that of Metaxas himself A little digging was enough to discover that Metaxas is something of an evangelical, although exactly what that term means today, or should mean, is less than clear to me.What goes for authors also applies to book reviewers, so it s time for some disclosure from me I m not religious in any traditional sense Of course, that doesn t mean that I m not religious in any sense I don t like any easy assumption that I, as a reader, will accept uncritically a religious stance just because I happen to be reading a book that involves religion And I certainly don t like to have God shoved in my face On apositive note, I love history and philosophy, I m a techie retired from an engineering career, and I adore good writing, in any language.But let me be very clear Metaxas, to my reading, does not make assumptions on my behalf nor shove religion in my face His own faith does seem to shine through his prose, but that seems not to have affected his willingness or ability to tell a story well and honestly.So, allow me to tally the good points of this book I will say up front that I have not found any bad points, although I will state some reservations at the end of this review.Readability The book is a pleasure to read The text is engaging, and manages to sustain a flow of factual information in a way that seems effortless.Presentation Metaxas uses English that is subtle, sophisticated, seems to be mid Atlantic quite often, and arresting metaphors and descriptive passages bubble from it The production is excellent In all the 446 pages, I noticed only one very, very minor typo, a missing period Something like this requires great application, and even then is not easy to achieve.History It seems clear to me that Metaxas knows his history All I can say about that is Bravo One thing brought out by the book was the role played by the recently developed printing press in bringing Luther and his message to prominence and to so many people Another was the role played by Luther in communicating with the people in Saxony and to all who read German in a way they could understand, and even to having a major impact on the German language itself.Research Having myself spent a good deal of time in Germany, having visited the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg, spent some in Torgau, Eisleben, and Erfurt, having visited the Wartburg, I got the clear sense from Metaxas text that I was reading something produced by a well informed mind, someone who had spent time at the sites he was writing about, and gave me confidence to accept what I was reading at face value For a writer to project whatever is needed to inspire this sort of confidence speaks volumes At least it does for me.Characters Metaxas book isn t fiction, so a discussion of character development would be out of place But there s no doubt that a full range of characters was involved, people who had markedly different outlooks, and strongly held views across a range of subjects And although Luther faced individuals who were indeed bitter enemies, one gets from the book no sense that everyone wore either a white hat or a black hat, in the good guys and bad guys sense, of course This book is a story of a man s struggle, and what that struggle meant for him and for the wider world.Some ReservationsMy few reservations arose as I read the epilogue to the book, an epilogue that is entitled The Man Who Created The Future Here I thought that things went a tad hyperbolic This could be explained in terms of the narrative fallacy This fallacy reflects the fact that in prospect it is difficult or impossible to predict, reliably, what the future will look like by postulating what things are likely to happen, whereas retrospect, when we know what did happen, it s easy to find reasons to explain why what happened did happen The fact that it s a fallacy is hidden by the reality, that of all the many possible outcomes we have only one to explain i.e what really did happen And we find we can explain it So we must be right Right Alas, too easy.During investigations of industrial accidents, finding the root cause and contributing factors in order to prevent or avoid recurrences is rarely easy or simple In determining what happened in history and why, when often the facts are not known clearly, where we have essentially no control, and where there s no assurance that we know even what factors were involved, and where chance and unknown hidden events might be important, we are on different ground In the text below, I have tried to raise some relevant questions.Luther was certainly a major figure in the intellectual history of the Western world But to maintain that he created the future seems to go too far Seen exclusively from within a religious context, one might let that kind of statement pass, but Metaxas makes it clear that he considers Luther s seminal influence to have stretched across pretty much the entire field of human endeavour Some of the section headings in the epilogue, shown in quotation marks below, indicate this The Free Market of Ideas Here we seem to leap to a twentieth century view of things, but one shaded by a fair bit of religious commentary The term free market is a give away Problems With Pluralism A fascinating and hugely significant topic, but it s important to remember that Luther hoped to be a fixer, he wanted to repair the faults in the Catholic Church, not replace that church What would he have understood by the term pluralism , a word that didn t appear in English until 1818 Did the concept exist in a clear form in Luther s day, possibly under another name I don t know But the use of the word pluralism here carries a whiff of teleology, implying that we now live in a much better world, and we were led here by divine guidance Democracy and Freedom That so many people today in the West have the good fortune to live under, and be guided by, and be governed by, the institutions we have always makes me tingle There are many aspects of these institutions that could be improved, and their imperfections occasionally allow leaders to emerge who are dangerous, ill informed, toxically ideological, and any combination of these But, welcome to our world In a section entitled Democracy and Freedom , I would have expected a hint that there was some clear lineage connecting Luther and, for example, Isaiah Berlin I would have hoped to see some reference to the conflicts inherent in the idea of freedom, as is expressed for example by freedom from and freedom to , and how those two ubiquitous demands are dealt with in any situation, as they must be, somehow The assumed teleological link between Luther and the American Revolution is also buried in the text here Social Reforms Reaching from Luther to the abolition of slavery is to stretch, incredibly for me, across a huge chasm The End of History I was put off entirely by this heading It resurrected I know, a somewhat malicious choice of words, but a deliberate one images of Francis Fukuyama and his lamentable triumphalist tract.Luther s contributions were indeed considerable, they represented something of a pivot point, and almost certainly they did hint at, facilitate, or enable future changes in a number of areas His ideas and his work are not belittled by being placed reasonably within a larger historical canvas Nor do we do him any favours by exaggerating what he achieved.OverallEric Metaxas book Martin Luther is superb It is informative and a delight to read My few reservations don t dim any of that for me Maybe 4.25 Metaxas is excellent as a biographer He makes the story come to life and turns it into a page turner His witty, joking style is enjoyable, but you can also see what an intelligent man he is I have loved every biography he has written.I grew up Lutheran and heard much about Martin Luther and his 95 theses Reformation day was like a holiday in our school and I even remember having a cake made in the shape of the Luther s coat of arms one year I was surprised to hear many of the th Maybe 4.25 Metaxas is excellent as a biographer He makes the story come to life and turns it into a page turner His witty, joking style is enjoyable, but you can also see what an intelligent man he is I have loved every biography he has written.I grew up Lutheran and heard much about Martin Luther and his 95 theses Reformation day was like a holiday in our school and I even remember having a cake made in the shape of the Luther s coat of arms one year I was surprised to hear many of the things we learned about Luther were incorrect Metaxas clears up most of what is legend and presents what the actual facts about Luther are I enjoyed how much he quoted personal letters and documents from Luther s life What I found most interesting was seeingwhat the church was like at the time of the Reformation No one read the Bible or even knew what it said even the church leaders , church services were in a language most people could not understand It seems like God s Word was veiled for hundreds of years how did God allow it to be like that for so long Although Luther definitely had his flaws, he mostly is a likable character who reminds me of many of my blunt German Lutheran extended family members He unknowingly started something that changed the trajectory of the church and religious freedom forever What he accomplished in short years is unbelievable He definitely is one of the most impactful people of history A few questions I had when he is hiding out in Wartburg, afraid for his life, he comes back to Wittenberg and all is fine Why were there no attempts on his life then I could not handle what the weddings were like of his day What the heck How was that considered okay I also thought Frederick s dream in the appendix was interesting I wanted to knowabout where it came from or if it was reliable at all But all in all, a great and interesting read published right in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation "/>
  • Hardcover
  • 480 pages
  • Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World
  • Eric Metaxas
  • English
  • 06 October 2017
  • 110198001X