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On Christian Liberty (Facets) Paperback – April 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Facets
  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800636074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800636074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This timeless little classic communicates essential teachings of Martin Luther

About the Author

Martin Luther was the founder of the Protestant Reformation. He remains a pivotal figure in Western history.

More About the Author

Martin Luther (1483-1546) initiated the Protestant Reformation. As a priest and theology professor, he confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. Luther strongly disputed their claim that freedom from God's punishment of sin could be purchased with money. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Edict of Worms meeting in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor. Martin Luther taught that salvation is not from good works, but a free gift of God, received only by grace through faith in Jesus as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptised Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with Luther's teachings are called Lutherans. His translation of the Bible into the language of the people (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, causing a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the translation into English of the King James Bible. His hymns inspired the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
One direction where Luther goes beyond Paul is in explaining how all of this works.
B. Marold
This was a great read by the way, I was forced to read it for school however, once I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down.
Kristy May
Faith alone produces a desire for righteous living, which produces good works compelled by the love of Christ.
William E. Turner Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By William E. Turner Jr. on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Before being set free by the reading of Romans 1:17, Martin Luther was enslaved to the bondage of works righteousness. He was acutely aware of his need for salvation but sought it through the means of works instead of finding it through faith in Christ. Upon discovering the "righteousness of God" Luther was set free from his bondage and was able to become a slave to Christ. It is this freedom of the gospel, which Luther sets forth as being the freedom for the Christian. Through faith alone a believer is justified in Christ and set free to live a life of obedience compelled by the love of Christ. Thus freedom to service through the gospel of Christ is at the heart of Luther's treatise The Freedom of a Christian.
He begins the work by summarizing the Christian life in paradoxical fashion. He writes, "A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none." And he continues by stating, "A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to none." Luther correctly believed that these two assertions, although seemingly contradictory, are nonetheless biblical and he seeks to show how they work together in the rest of this treatise.
It is only through faith alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby one is saved and is given the free gift of Christ's righteousness and the perfect freedom found in being united with Christ. Thus the only thing necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom is the Word of God, which is the gospel. Without the Word of God there is no help for the soul. Yet a soul that has the Word of God is found lacking nothing.
Luther's work asserts the underlining truth of the Christian life: that we are freed through the death of Christ to service.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A Blevins on February 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Martin Luther's treatise "Christian Liberty" (or "The Freedom of a Christian") is perhaps the most powerful and concise presentation of the Christian life ever written. I cannot recommend this work highly enough. I rank this among the very best of Luther's works (and that is really saying something). If an inexpensive copy were still in publication I would buy every copy to give as gifts to friends and family. The power, discernment, brevity and readability of this work make a true gem among Reformation writings (and Christian writings in general). Here you will find the essence of the spirit of the Reformation distilled into a guide for practical, biblical living.

With the clarity and bold authority of a true prophet, Luther sets forth the whole of the Christian life in two theses: "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." We are free from sin and the law (subject to none) but slaves to Christ in love (subject to all). As Paul writes in Romans 6:22, "But now...you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God."

Luther writes as a shepherd of the common people and the tone and content differ greatly from his better-known debate-oriented works (ie. Bondage of the Will, 95 Theses). The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is the heart and soul of Luther's message, founded upon a firm conviction in the authority of scripture alone.

He writes, "One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ALM on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This powerful little book is a solid, one-two punch from Luther about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church at the time. It is an excellent synopsis of grace and the freedom of Christians. Where we were once enslaved by sin and could do nothing good, when saved by Grace, God is able to work good through us. That is, when saved, we are then truly free.

The second punch, if you will, is the letter Luther sent to Pope Leo X wherein he tells the pope that Luther is a friend of the church but speaks out against the sacreligious and sinful Indulgences being sold to masses by those around the Pope. Luther debunks the notion that we can buy our own salvation.

I'd recommend that you read the introduction, then the letter, then the actual essay, and THEN reread the letter to the Pope because it will speak so much louder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (The Freedom of a Christian), Translated by W. A. Lambert, revised by Harold J. Grimm (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2003)

Luther's works translated into English comprise 55 thick volumes. Looking at the editions of his works in German and in Latin, I can believe that even those 55 volumes are not complete. So where does one start with this vast volume of writing? This little book is about as good a starting point as one could wish for. It may not be Luther's best statement of his position. For that, one may need to go to the far more difficult The Bondage of the Will, but this little work, written in the heat of the opening battles of the Reformation, in 1520, may be one of the most concise statements of Reformation theology you will find anywhere. It is an especially good balance to The Bondage of the Will, which may leave one in a pessimistic mood, after reading the long argument against free will and the complete inability of a person to affect their own salvation.

Following Paul's epistles, especially Romans and Galatians, Luther spells out the Reformation doctrine of sola fide, faith alone. That's the easy part. Luther does at least two additional things which illuminate that doctrine and show us where it takes us.

I'm particularly taken by Luther's opening sentence: `Many people have considered Christian faith an easy thing, and not a few have given it a place among the virtues'. This statement is reassuring to those who may like to think they have a Christian faith, but have doubts. As those who have read a biography or two of Luther will attest, he is not being clever or cute when he says that he himself has `...no wealth of faith to boast of...'. He was beset by doubt well into his term as an Augustinian monk.
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