The development of Martin Luther's thought was both a symptom and moving force in the transformation of the Middle Ages into the modern world. Geographical discovery, an emerging scientific tradition, and a climate of social change had splintered the unity of medieval Christian culture, and these changes provided the background for Luther's theological challenge. His new apprehension of Scripture and fresh understanding of man's relation to God demanded a break with the Church as then constituted and released the powerful impulses that carried the Reformation. Luther's vigorous, colorful language still retains the excitement it had for thousands of his contemporaries. In this volume, Dr. Dillenberger has made a representative selection from Luther's extensive writings, and has also provided the reader with a lucid introduction to his thought.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars A great introduction to Luther
I think this is just about the best introduction to Luther's writing around. It covers a pretty broad range of his writing, and seems to give a pretty good introduction to his theology and thought. Incidentally, "Freedom of a Christian" is worth the purchase price alone. It is simply the best discussion of faith and works that I have ever read. It is immenseley clarifying. I would recommend this highly, particularly since it is so inexpensive.
5 Stars Luther intro
If you've never read any of Luthers works before, you should read this book. There has never been a stronger writer on the subject of faith, than Martin Luther -excepting maybe for moses or St.Paul.Try this book or "The basic theological writings of ML" -I am not lutherine.
4 Stars Denying Papal Bull
Dillenberger presents a selections of treatises, Biblical commentaries, and sermons sensibly arranged with a good introduction. Two missing works were the Small Catechism and his speech at the Diet of Worms ("Here I stand … I cannot do otherwise"). In three key works from 1520 "An appeal to the ruling class of German Nationality", "The Pagan Servitude of the Church" and "The Freedom of a Christian", Luther develops (re-discovers?) the doctrine of justification by faith and emphasis on Scripture. Luther steers from a legalistic life of a Christian ("Beware lest you make Christ into a Moses"). He vigorously attacks the practice of indulgences, Papal Supremacy and the papal court: "At present there is a crawling mass of reptiles, all claiming to pay allegiance to the Pope, but Babylon never saw the life of these miscreants". At times he practices his own demagoguery; of St. James he does "not hold it to be of apostolic authorship".
Luther attempts to remove the differences between cleric and public classes by opening the Eucharist to everyone and his German Bible made Scripture available to German peasantry. Luther grants spiritual rights to the individual, and states importance of the Christian community, but he did not extend this politically, and should not be viewed as advocating political democracy. The "Appeal to the ruling class" was popular among the nobility because it provided justification for not sending money to Rome.
After reading St. Augustine's Confessions, it is interesting to see how this Augustinian monk extends the idea of grace. The works on free will were the most paradoxical for me. He seems to argue both that without grace man is incapable of free will, but also that "God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will".
5 Stars One of the best Lutheran books I've ever run across!
What a wonderful introduction to Martin Luther! If you're thirsty for his writings, this is the book you should start with. Searching for books by him usually turns up many expensive volumes, meant for preachers, not laymen. That's why I'm so glad I found this book. It's laid out perfectly, to give you a wonderful idea of who Luther was, the Reformation, and, most importantly, his theology. Every Lutheran should be firmly introduced to Luther (no matter how obvious it seems, it doesn't happen enough), especially those fundamentalists of the Missouri Synod and Lutheran Brethren who have drifted so far from him and the Gospel of Christ. This is a wonderful book. Take it from an ELCA pastor. This book will show you. I'm seriously considering giving a copy to each of my confirmation students every year. Let Grace reign, not legalism and judgement.