Review of The Legacy of Luther

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The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul is a timely read in light of the coming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This work brings together some of the bes church historians to address important aspects of Luther’s life and thought.

The contributors to this volume are: Stephen Nichols, Steven Lawson, David B. Calhoun, Joel Beeke, Michael Horton, Guy Prentiss Waters, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Gene Edwards Veith, Aaron Clay Denlinger, Scott Maentsch, Sean Michael Lucas, Terry Yount, Derek W.H. Thomas, and R.C. Sproul. The first section of this book provides a look into the life of Luther most significant in this section is Beeke’s chapter on Luther as a family man, which addresses Luther’s teaching on marriage and family and how he practically lived that out. This is one aspect of Luther’s life and thought that often goes underappreciated. The second section addresses Luther’s doctrinal understanding along the lines of the Solas of the Reformation. The final section addresses Luther’s ongoing contribution as a Bible scholar, his contribution to the broader Reformation, his impact as polemicist, his contribution to hymnody, and Luther’s impact on preaching. R.C. Sproul fittingly closes this work with a reflection on Luther as pastor-theologian.

Each author draws out important aspects of Luther’s life and thought. In reading this I did find it odd how little diversity there was in the denominational backgrounds of the contributors especially in light of the greater diversity in contributors found in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion,  Doctrine,  Doxology. Especially surprising is the fact that a work on Luther only has two contributors from the Lutheran tradition. I think in exploring Luther’s more attention should have been given to the theology of the cross and its outworking in his theology.

Overall this is one of the better works out there on Luther that seek to address him in his own context and address his importance today. Some modern works seek to psychoanalyze Luther more than explore his doctrinal convictions and impact on church history, a pitfall these contributors happily avoid. If you’re looking to learn about Luther and why he is so significant in the development of church history this book is a must read.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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