Interpreting Martin Luther | Victor Shepherd

Interpreting Martin Luther is a seminary course converted into a book. Each of the twelve chapters correspond to the twelve classroom lectures in the semester. Having taken the course from the author a little less than a decade ago, I was surprised at just how much of this course has stuck with me.

Shepherd eases you into the life of Luther, first dealing with all the background issues that swirl around the Reformation: the Renaissance, Humanism, Scholasticism, and other movements. When he gets down to Luther himself, the chapters cover nine aspects of his life and teaching such as that core issue of the Reformation, The Righteousness of God. He never does abandon important background issues, though. The chapter on The Lord’s Supper is a good example. By the time you’re finished, you’ll understand not only Luther’s view, but Calvin, Zwingli, and the Roman view as well.

What sets this book apart are the telling little anecdotes from Luther’s life, paired with a few pregnant reflections on the current state of the church. For instance, Luther’s graphic vision of the devil covered in human excrement is strong medicine for a church who loves to flirt with sin.

All of Luther’s source material for these lectures can be found in Lull’s Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings. If you’re serious about learning Luther, it’s worth reading these two books together.

I can’t think of a better overview of Luther’s life and teaching than these converted lectures.

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