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Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Library of Christian Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1955

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Paperback, January 1, 1955
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Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Library of Christian Classics) + The Pastoral Luther: Essays on Martin Luther's Practical Theology (Lutheran Quarterly Books)
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Christian Classics
  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; Reissue edition (January 1, 1955)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664230857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664230852
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,376,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Theodore G. Tappert was a distinguished church historian and author. He was Schieren Professor of the History of Christianity at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Tappert was also archivist of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and a consultant to the Lutheran Church in American's Board of Publication.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joshua V. Schneider VINE VOICE on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a very readable collection of Martin Luther's pastoral letters, organized topically by chapters, and chronologically within the chapters. The "Letters of Spiritual Counsel" give insight into the pastoral heart of Luther, and how he applied the correction of the Law and the comfort of the Gospel to the daily lives and affairs of people in his time. The reader clearly learns how Luther brought the consolation of Christ's death and resurrection to the troubled at heart. Sections that I found particularly helpful were those that dealt with people who were sick and dying, as well as with the families of the recently deceased; how he dealt with people who were troubled over their election to salvation; and his advice in matters of the civil realm. One of the best sections is his advice to clergymen, in which he gives suggestions on how a pastor should deal evangelically with various troubles in the congregation. Overall the letters show how Luther sought to turn people to Christ alone for their salvation, and how this specifically served to comfort them in a multitude of daily matters. This book would be an excellent resource for any pastor or seminary student, and can easily be read in bits and pieces since most of the letters are relatively short. Despite the difference in time periods, a modern pastor will recognize the problems that Luther approaches are familiar to us today, and much of Luther's pastoral insight has enduring value for today.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Concurring totally with Reviewer Joshua's summary of the contents and its usefulness to the faith, this review will content itself with the humble addition of several quotes to highlight this delightfully rich resource for the church.

First, a fascinating and relevant inquiry into ceremonies and rites of worship involving elevation of the Sacrament and processions, etc., Luther saliently responds in part: "If your lord, the margrace and elector, etc. permits the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached with purity and power (goes on to add administration of the Sacraments as Christ mandated; removal of invocation of the saints, etc.) in procession, go along in the Lord's name and carry a gold or silver cross and wear a cope or alb..." He adds further along: "Only do not let such things be regarded as necessary for salvation and thus bind the consciences of men. How I would rejoice and thank God if I could persuade the pope and the papists of this! If the pope gave me the freedom to go about and preach and only commanded me (with a dispensation) to hitch on a pair of trousers, I should be glad to do him the favor of wearing them."

Further relevant is this encouragement to a German prince going into battle with the Turks: "Secondly, I beg that those on our side may not place their reliance on the Turk's being altogether wrong and God's emeny while we are innocent and righteous in comparison with the Turk, for such presumption is also vain. Rather it is necessary to fight with fear of God and reliance on his grace alone. We too are unrighteous in God's sight."

Finally, this admonition to Bruck who read the Augsburg Confession in public: "As we read in Rom. ch. 8, we know not what we should pray for as we ought.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Justin Holcomb on August 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ministry to troubled souls is a ministry of the gospel. Luther wrote letters of spiritual counsel to his friends and contemporaries in the midst of sickness, death, sadness, imprisonment, anxiety, famine, persecution, and despondency.

Because of his role as the instigator of the Protestant Reformation, it is sometimes forgotten that Luther was a pastor. For Luther, pastoral care is always concerned with faith--establishing, nurturing, and strengthening faith. Because faith is about the gospel, when people needed pastoral care, his aim was not to get people to do certain things or disciplines so much as to get people to have faith and to exercise the love that comes from faith.

Here is an excerpt from the letter Luther wrote to his dying father: "The longer a man lives, the more wickedness and sin and plagues and sorrow he sees and feels...I commend to you Him who loves you more than you love yourself. He has proved his love in taking your sin upon himself and paying for them with his blood, as he tells you by the gospel."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Hopping on June 12, 2013
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Known for starting the Protestant Reformation in 1517, Martin Luther was first and foremost a pastor who deeply carried for those around him. This pastoral heart shines brightly through the countless letters Luther wrote to friends, acquaintances and governmental leaders. Luther's letters also give readers insight into his theology as he never wrote a systematic theology book.

The book "Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel" is a collection of these pastoral letter centered around eleven spiritual topics. As Luther typical wrote his letters in Latin or German with portions in Greek or Hebrews, the letters have been translated by Theodore G. Tappert, professor of history at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into English.

The thing that stood out to me the most was Luther's concept of the supremacy of God. In adopting a theology of salvation based upon the supremacy of God above everything else, Luther must maintain that all sickness, disease, illness or pain must either come directly from the hand of God or, at the very least, by his permission. This view of God leads Luther to tell one sick friend that he is to "patiently bear the blows of his [Jesus'] kindly hand" (pg 29) while to another, his own mother in fact, Luther writes "know that this sickness of your is his gracious, fatherly chastisement" (pg 33). These comments, while written to comfort, actually seem to me to do the opposite as they place the pressure of the illness upon the party to whom it is addressed (i.e. if the aliment is to be viewed as punishment from God, than the sick person must have done something bad and, therefore, is ultimately responsible for their current situation).
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