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October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World Hardcover – May 1, 2016
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This book is a little book with a big message: a message of repentance as change of heart, the message of 1517 that Marty is able to show has manifold implications for church and world. It is worthy of careful attention in the commemorations to come. Because of its size and accessibility to a broad readership, this book is an excellent resource for use in congregations as well as classrooms.
—James M. Childs, Jr. is Joseph A, Sittler Professor Emeritus of Theology and Ethics at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Book Review Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.
His [Martin E. Marty's] central point is that Luther’s bold act of protest was a call for repentance or a change of heart within the Catholic Church, which at the time was overrun with corruption due to the selling of indulgences. Instead, Luther emphasized justification by faith and an acceptance of the grace of God.
Other interesting topics covered in the book are the present day existence of some 40,000 Christian denominations (part of Luther’s legacy), the continuing dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, and their sincere efforts to come together in common prayer and joint action. —Living Lutheran, June 2016
"Martin Marty's attention to October 31, 1517, the day that Martin Luther promulgated his 95 Theses, provides valuable insights for the past, the present, and the future--why Luther's articulation of"repentance" meant so much then, why his commitment to "justification" has now built a bridge for Catholics and Lutherans to work with each other, and why this great event of 500 years ago might herald a hopeful future for Christian believers and all others. There is an awful lot packed readably into this one small book."
—Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
"I would not dream of preparing my mind and heart for the celebration of Luther's role in the Reformation without finding out what Martin Marty has to say on the subject. And he says it here in this wonderful little book. The gifted historian that he is, Marty gives us much solid information. But he also writes eloquently about how best to prepare our souls for the kind of commemoration that also includes some prayers of repentance." —Richard Mouw
"This pithy book offers valuable insight on how Luther's 95 theses have had a profound influence on he ecumenical movement, and can help Christians today understand what it means to be a member of a truly 'catholic' church." —Kathleen Norris
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Instead, this is indeed a very important small volume written by Marty—and also by the best-selling Catholic author James Martin, who wrote the Foreword to this book—examining the issues that sprang from that date and cascade down to us, half a millennium later. To be fair to the low-star reviews here, they're right: If you're buying this book expecting a gripping historical narrative about 1517, then you'll be mistaken.
What has happened in the decades leading up to this anniversary is many, many dialogues and studies involving Lutheran and Catholic leaders. No, not all Lutheran groups participated. But there was historic involvement by a number of Lutheran leaders, especially in Europe and that led to the amazing start to this "anniversary year" in late October 2015 including Pope Francis in Sweden in joint worship with Lutherans. This is the first centennial of the key date in Luther's career that is being jointly commemorated by Catholic and Lutheran leaders together in Europe.
This volume, both Marty's short text and James Martin's Foreword, seek to clarify issues surrounding this history and to point toward areas of emerging convergence. Obviously, many Christians still object and disagree on these issues. But, if you do buy and read this volume, you'll understand a whole lot more about how the events Luther set off in 1517 have an important legacy in our contemporary world.