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Luther and His World
by Graham Tomlin
Published:24 August 2012
Although slender compared with some books on Martin Luther, this new paperback is packed with information and tells us as much, in 150 pages, as most of us probably need to know about the chief instigator of the 16th century Reformation, whom Graham Tomlin calls "one of the most influential European figures of the last millennium". It's all there - Luther's complex character, "a man of immense personal courage, fierce intelligence, and Teutonic stubbornness" (Yes, and with recurring health problems!); his personal spiritual struggles and anxieties, not only in a monastery in his youth, but in his later life, too; his "exuberant sense of relief and joy" when God was transformed for him from a "condemning, demanding tyrant" into "a good, generous, big-hearted God". You will read of his conflicts with the religious and political authorities after he had "thrown down the gauntlet" with his theses in Wittenberg in 1517, challenging much of the thought and practice of the Church and "changing the course of history irrevocably". Read Chapter 6 for Luther's political views and his attitude to the 'peasants' revolt' in Germany, and Chapter 7 for his controversies with Erasmus and Zwingli. The final chapter, ‘The Legacy’, offers stimulating thoughts on Suffering, Justification by Faith and Theology and Experience. I think Graham Tomlin has succeeded in his aim, which is "to present an accessible and attractive introduction to Luther’s life, ideas and significance", leading many readers on to more substantial works, such as those by G Ebeling or R H Bainton.
Reviewer: Barry Vendy (14/11/12)