Martin Luther was a troubled soul as a monk and God used this trouble to birth freedom – freedom not just for himself but for those across the globe and down through history. For out of his pain, Luther was driven to the Scriptures and grasped the truth of grace in Christ.
He boldly spoke out against the corruption of the church, and in the process set in motion a chain of events leading to the Reformation – and a new era for the kingdom of God, an era that saw a return to biblical teachings of grace in Christ through faith alone. Indeed, the return to sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia.
Once it began, the avalanche picked up steam and took much of Europe with it. Many today, including me, live in the wake of Luther’s bold leadership.
He had a personality bigger than life – a brilliant biblical scholar in the original languages, a gifted preacher, a writer of many books, a fearless leader in the face of opposition from both Emperor and Pope, an indefatigable servant of Christ, a candid, transparent and witty friend.
What impact he had!
He unleashed the gospel of grace!
He translated the Bible into German, giving Germany its Bible, and in the process, its language!
He created the atmosphere for religious freedom, for the dignity of every vocation. He gave a voice to the people, gave congregational singing to the church, the Scriptures to the people. He introduced reforms that would eventually be adopted by the Catholic Church. His ideas of pluralism would indirectly foster democracy, liberty and government by the people.
What a titan on the world stage! One of the handful of great characters in history.
Flawed? Of course. Who but Jesus is not? Certainly he was wrong in the way he attacked the Jews in his later years. He naively believed false accusations. But if he had been alive 400 years later, he would have died with Bonhoeffer in opposing Hitler.
Moreover, he could be intemperate in his criticisms of people, though perhaps the desperate times called for strong men.
Metaxas has done it again. After superb biographies of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, he has now given us a superb biography of Luther. I’ve read a number of them and this is easily the best I’ve read.