Five Books That Introduce Luther to Lutherans (and not-so-Lutherans)
by Pastor Riley's Blog
This book traces Luther’s theological development from medieval Augustinianism to evangelical theology. It provides a theological study of how Luther became a ”Lutheran”. As readers explore Luther’s spiritual and theological journey, they gain a context for the teaching of Lutheran doctrine and the development of those documents that would become the Lutheran Confessions. The author specifically shows the teachings that make Luther’s theology evangelical, that is, uniquely poised to deliver the Gospel. In addition, Saarnivaara also explores other theologies touted as evangelical, yet when held to the Law-Gospel distinction, they are revealed to be flawed.
“Luther for Armchair Theologians,” by Steven Paulson
Martin Luther started a reformation movement that revolutionized Europe in the sixteenth century. His far-reaching reforms of theological understanding and church practices radically modified both church and society in Europe and beyond. Paulson’s introduction to Luther’s thought, coupled with the illustrations, provides an engaging introduction to Luther’s multifaceted self and the ideas that catapulted him to fame. Written by experts but designed for the nonexpert, the Armchair Theologian series from Westminster John Knox Press provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound Christian theologians in history. This series is an essential supplement for first-time encounters with primary texts, a lucid refresher for scholars and clergy, and an enjoyable read for the theologically curious.
“Luther and the Old Testament,” by Heinrich Bornkamm
This book was written at the height of the pre-WW2 Nazi attempt to take over the Christian churches of Germany. At the time, the Nazis tried to ‘do away with’ as much of the Jewish origin of Christianity as possible, especially with the Old Testament (there were actual attempts to remove the Old Testament from Biblical cannon, and down played Martin Luther’s reliance on the Tanakh (i.e., the Scriptures). German Lutheran professor Bronkamm then wrote extensively of Luther’s absolute reliance on a Christ-centered understanding of the Old Testament, that the Old Testament cannot be done away with and still understand Luther, or follow the Christian church. This book was refused publication until after the war was over, on which time it became a basic textbook of many a Lutheran seminary. An excellent read, if one is interested in the German Church struggle, Martin Luther, or the Christian understanding of the Old Testament. (Summary written by David Schultz)
Most Luther scholars have focused largely on the polemical side of the reformer with only occasional allusion to his Devotional Writings. The aim of this book is to unfold the pastoral, not the polemical, side of the reformer, drawing on the spiritual insights he offers to people of high and low estate. These writings are devotional and catechectial in shape and intent, yet not devoid of rich theological substance, the fruit of his rigorous reflections. They are the exercises of Luther’s basic calling as a theologian-pastor and are the concrete illustrations of the interface of theology and piety, the former being the abiding presupposition of the latter. Dr Ngien’s work reveals Luther as a true theologian, i.e., theologian of the cross at work in the pastoral context.
“The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther,” ed. Donald K. McKim
This Companion provides an accessible introduction to Martin Luther for students of theology and history and everyone interested in the life, work and thought of the first great Protestant reformer. Historians and theologians present a complete picture of Luther’s major writing themes and the ways in which his ideas spread and continue to be important. The Companion is oriented to those with little or no background in Luther studies, as well as teachers and specialists.