New Biography of Martin Luther

The inception of the Protestant Reformation is popularly ascribed to that moment when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses inveigling against the rampant corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.  One point of focus of his criticisms was discarding the spiritual authority of that Church and looking to the text of the Bible for guidance in such matters. And now we have the televised pronouncements of Pat Robertson, Jack Chick’s tracts, the Federal government getting ready to support teaching Creationism in schools…

Anyway, Luther’s actions do resonate with some of our mysteries, so the publication of  Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet a new biography by Lyndal Roper of the erstwhile Catholic monk, detailing the circumstances under which his religious movement was initiated, began to take hold and spread. Here’s an excerpt of a review from the New York Times Book Review:

“Any attempts to restrain Luther during these years met with majestic defiance: ‘I beg you, if you understand the Gospel rightly, don’t think that the matter can be done without revolt, offense and unrest,’ Luther wrote to one of his interlocutors. ‘You can’t turn the sword into a feather, or make peace out of war: The Word of God is a sword.’ [wow! sounds like Daesh!]This was a principle from which he never deviated. Friends who had disappointed were quickly cast out, as were those who threatened the future of his young movement. In 1524, rebellion flamed across the German countryside, as the peasants took up arms against their harsh living conditions. Such revolts were not new; but since they now claimed to be inspired by Luther’s Gospel teaching, he brutally repudiated the rebels. Roper traces the roots of this back to 1522 when Luther rejected evangelical change that might offend the Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, his vital protector: From this point the Lutheran Church would be in lockstep with secular power.”

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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