Monday, May 01, 2006

Book Review: Luther in Context

Then, there was Paul, then Augustine, then Martin Luther- three gigantic figures of the Christian faith, who lived at different crucial times to shape our fundamental beliefs.

Paul and Augustine would probably ring familiarity among Christians only, but Martin Luther was famous even among school students, having graced the pages of world history textbooks as the monk who changed the course of Christianity and History.

While this is true, more often than not; its connotation of change are of negative ones. Non-believers saw Luther’s persistence to change as a rebellion and protestant Christians tend to remember Catholicism, as though it were a canned orange soft drink- nothing like the real thing.

Despite it all, Luther’s tireless persistence in setting the records straight- right up to the constitution of the Lord’s Supper, as portrayed by David C. Steinmetz in the book “Luther in Context” is worth commending again and again.

For a book of 125 pages only, its pages weighs a ton each. The content is rich with Luther’s convictions and stands on freedom of will, Romans 9 and even intellectual squabbles with his contemporaries- William Ockham and Gabriel Biel; just to name a few. Only a leading Luther scholar can compress all of Luther’s theology in a relatively thin book, and expand its richness at its readers’ expense once the book is opened.

If you have read the biography of Martin Luther “Here I Stand” by Roland Bainton, which is also recommended by acclaimed pastor John Piper, this would make an excellent sequel to Luther’s commitment in pursuing biblical truth. The older Luther, as what Steinmetz called him; often wrote under intense spiritual anxiety- a reflection of revelation through suffering, as mirrored later by another giant, Charles Spurgeon.

Thus, you would expect to find Luther to theology, as Bach is to music- to paraphrase Steinmetz in his preface to the book. Which means it is not an easy book to read, just as it is not easy to even hum to Bach’s tune, let alone play it.

Yet, if the mystery of the depth of theology could somehow be grasped once in a while, should we not say be gone to fear of not understanding, when the beginning of understanding commences from the fear of the Lord?


Blogger Anon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Anon said...

As ever, it is a delight reading your blogs and I always come away impressed by the clarity and depth articulated in your blogs. Keep up the good work and look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

10:59 PM  
Blogger jacksons said...

eh, what happened to your blog? missing...oh, have to scroll down.

1:20 AM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Yea-hor, what happened to my blog?

11:15 PM  
Blogger AlwynLau said...

i've been Lutheran all my life and I still find him difficult to "grasp"! I've heard it said that he was more a theologian of the heart and less of the mind. very passionate and fierce about his faith, and absolutely hostile to those he disagreed with!

if you haven't seen it, try to catch that movie starring Joseph Fiennes.

12:37 AM  

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