- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Crossway (February 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781433525025
- ISBN-13: 978-1433525025
- ASIN: 143352502X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom Paperback – February 28, 2015
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“If you think you know Luther, read this book. It is a remarkably edifying and illuminating piece of work. Displaying the interests of a pastor and the rigor of a historian, Carl Trueman provides us with an analysis of Luther on the Christian life that is as ‘human’ as the German Reformer himself. Yet it’s far more than Luther on the Christian life. It’s one of the very best summaries of Luther in context.”
―Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; Host, White Horse Inn; author, Core Christianity
“Carl Trueman has pulled off a tremendous feat: he’s not only given us a volume that is scholarly and historically nuanced while still accessible and refreshingly contemporary; he’s also managed to capture the brilliance and boldness of Martin Luther in a relatively short space. Trueman is to be commended for presenting a Luther who is unlike us in so many ways, and yet a Luther from whom we can learn so much.”
―Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina
“This book illustrates again why Martin Luther remains a nearly inexhaustible resource. Trueman explains why Luther can be such a perceptive, encouraging, human, and even humorous guide to the Christian life. Especially important is Trueman’s clear communication of why the cross of Christ grounded Luther’s approach to almost everything and why a ‘theology of the cross’ might powerfully motivate believers today as well.”
―Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame; editor, Protestantism after 500 Years
“Trueman gives us not only Luther’s theology, but Luther as a theologian, which in turn connects with us as theologians. We learn from Trueman’s insight into Luther that theology isn’t just what we know about God, or even how we know it, but is intimately connected to who we are. Trueman gives us Luther―constipation, wit, contradictions, and all. We also finally get a theological apologetic for a robust sense of humor.”
―Aimee Byrd, author, Why Can’t We Be Friends? and No Little Women
“It is no easy task to write a small volume summing up the theology and significance for the Christian life of Martin Luther. Yet Trueman has done it superbly with aplomb and verve. Highly recommended as an excellent introduction to a remarkable Christian and human being.”
―Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Director, Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies
“This book takes us on an engaging, enjoyable tour of the thought of one of Christianity’s most influential theologians. Writing with wisdom and accessible style, Trueman gets to the heart of Luther’s theology, showing how his teachings in areas like law and gospel, justification by grace through faith, and the means of grace connect with the everyday Christian life of believers. Trueman’s insightful scholarship and clear writing give us a wonderful introduction to Luther’s thought. I highly recommend it.”
―Justin S. Holcomb, Episcopal Priest; Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; coauthor, Rid of My Disgrace and God Made All of Me; editor, Christian Theologies of Scripture
“In this compelling book, we encounter an arresting portrait of Luther the pastor, a full-blooded man who knew the spiritual and physical joys and pains of life and the formidable daily challenges of being a Christian in a fallen world. In elegant, bracing prose full of pastoral and theological insight and leavened with his characteristic humor, Trueman both keeps Luther in his time and engages us in conversation about how the German doctor speaks to ours. Trueman’s profound exploration of one of the great writers on the Christian life challenges all of us to cancel our tickets for journeys of self-exploration and self-expression to pursue something more authentic. From a distance of five hundred years, Luther tells us that the story is not about us; it’s about what God has done for us.”
―Bruce Gordon, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Yale Divinity School; author, Calvin
“This book deftly combines deep historical learning with sage pastoral wisdom to present us with an unaccommodated Luther―one who is sure to surprise as well as offend those only familiar with sanitized portraits of the Wittenberg Reformer. But this is the Luther that we need, for it is the real Luther―not the fictions of hagiographers―who has the most to teach us about the Christian life. Both new and longtime readers of Luther will derive much benefit from Trueman’s book.”
―Scott R. Swain, President and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“Eminently readable, humorous, and always with an eye to the church today, Trueman brings us into Luther’s world, devils and all, and shows us the centrality of the cross and the objective power of God’s Word for Luther’s understanding of the Christian life. Most importantly, we meet Luther on Luther’s terms. His high view of the liturgy and sacraments stands alongside his more familiar views on the authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone. All those interested in Luther or the Reformation need to read this excellent book.”
―Carl Beckwith, Associate Professor of History and Doctrine, Beeson Divinity School; author, Hilary of Poitiers on the Trinity
About the Author
Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.
Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.
Justin Taylor (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books, including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worlds―hosted by the Gospel Coalition.
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The book is a balanced blend of biography, Reformation history, and theology. Beginners and seasoned students of Luther will all benefit from Trueman's work.
While each chapter is a worthy read, the fifth chapter, Living By the Word will be the focus of this review. The author does a magnificent job of drawing Luther's love for the Bible in these pages. But he demonstrates how important the Holy Spirit was in Luther's life and theological framework: "For Luther, the Spirit is only given with the external word." Indeed, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to transform the people of God. Eliminate the Spirit and the result is a dry rationalism. Remove the Word and the result is a subjective train wreck. Luther stressed the importance of both the Word and the Spirit.
Luther's devotional life and approach to the Christian life is explored, leaving readers with much to contemplate and weight out. The author contrasts Luther's emphasis on being a theologian of the cross (as opposed to a theologian of glory):
The very essence of being a theologian of the cross is that one sees God's strength as manifested in weakness. The primary significance of that is the incarnation and the cross. God's means for overcoming sin and crushing death are the humiliation of his Son, hidden in human flesh. Nevertheless, the cross also has a certain paradigmatic aspect to it, for it indicates that God does his proper work through his alien work.
Additionally, Luther's approach to spiritual warfare is reviewed. Anyone who battles melancholy stands in good company, for Luther battled the same throughout his adult life. Truman adds, "Luther certainly regards the cultivation of despair as one of the primary tasks of the Devil ... Everything hangs on this, from confidence before God to ethical conduct before neighbors, to the ability to look death in the face and not despair."
Luther's struggles are always held captive to the Word of God. Ultimately, Luther's relief comes when he rests in the promises of the gospel. Luther says,
And so when I feel the terrors of death, I say: 'Death, you have nothing on me. For I have another death, one that kills you, my death. And the death that kills is stronger than the death that is killed.'
Carl Trueman offers a carefully thought out treatment of Luther, which includes both triumphs and tragedies. The reader can determine which issues merit further studies. Luther and the Christian Life is a fine contribution to the growing work on the German Reformer.