2017 marks 500 years into the reformation that was sparked by the culmination of events in God’s timing, most notably the 95 theses hung in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. Such an anniversary also brings expectation of a deluge of new materials, especially books. Already we have been the recipients of a number of those, and certainly that will increase. Added to that list is the recent release of Martin Luther in His Own Words edited by Jack Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer.
This is not a book about Martin Luther as much as it is about Martin Luther. Kilcrease and Lutzer have pieced together portions of Luther’s writing only ‘modernizing’ the text slightly and adding annotations. The editors choice for organization is exceptional. The book consists of five sections, one for each of the five solas, and each section is made up of two or three chapters. Those chapters are excerpts from Luther’s writings such as his commentary on Galatians, The Bondage of the Will, and Articles of the Apostle’s Creed. A simplistic layout (introduction, selected Luther text, and annotations) makes for an easy to follow read.
With this type of book come the necessity of two important aspects of assessment. The first is the theological foundation and presentation. Luther’s works have been around for quite some time, and many are polarized by his teaching. Thus, we could spend much time debating the merits of his theology. However, despite the fact that the authors avoid much of the debatable theology, those who like Luther’s writings will likely pick up a copy of this book while those on the opposite side are likely to disregard this book regardless of what is said about it.
That makes the second point of evaluation more poignant for likely readers. Is such a book worthwhile to read? Logically it would make sense that if we desire to read Martin Luther, we would go as close to the source as possible, including reading the entirety of the texts rather than reading certain portions. That in fact, would be my recommendation.
The book is not without merit though. Such a text as this offers up a different presentation that allows readers to dwell upon the text at greater length. Furthermore, it helps readers get a foundation of Luther’s thinking and background. Personally, I still would urge people to read Luther’s writings in their entirety and would reserve this copy for those simply wanting a broad introduction to the writings of Luther.
To purchase a copy of Martin Luther In His Own Word edited by Jack D. Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge for the purposes of review. In no way was I influenced by the publisher, but the review is the result of my own reading and response of the text.