Friday, September 1, 2017

The Unreformed Martin Luther - by Andreas Malessa

The Unreformed Martin Luther

About the book:

Will the real Martin Luther please stand up?

After five hundred years of examining the life of the "father of the Reformation," we must surely know all there is to know about Martin Luther. But is that true?

Did he really nail his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door?

Did he throw an inkpot at the devil?

Did he plant an apple tree?

Did his wife escape her convent in a herring barrel?

German radio and television journalist Andreas Malessa looks at the actual history of Luther and concludes that many of the tales we know best are nothing but nonsense.

Diving gleefully into the research, Malessa investigates many of the falsehoods and fallacies surrounding the reformer, rejecting them in favor of equally incredible facts. Full of humor and irony, this book educates and entertains while demonstrating a profound respect for Luther's life and mission.

If you're looking for the truth of the man behind the theses, come discover his faith and influence--with the myths stripped away.

My review:

This is a fascinating and funny book that was easy to read and incredibly informative.  Each chapter looks at a commonly held belief about Luther and whether or not it's true, with research to back it up. The chapters range from a few pages each to fifteen or so.  I had never heard of some of these beliefs but it was still fascinating to learn about what was happening at the time in politics, religion, society and culture and how Luther affected it or was affected by it.  I learned more about the Catholic faith, then and now, as Malessa explained the history of indulgences and what they were really supposed to be for.  I had read about them before but don't remember them explained quite the way he did.  It also still amazes me that it was so important to not marry as a priest or nun back then but it was common practice for monks, priests and nobles to have mistresses.  Luther also talked about other horrible sins that were committed because of this practice and it seems like we can still see the issues today with all of the child abuse in the Catholic church.  It was also fascinating to me the whole discussion about infant baptism versus believers' baptism and what was going on with the different reformers who were trying to change this practice.  A lot of them died horrible deaths.

An especially hard chapter to read was about Luther's anti-Semitism, though Malessa points out it's more accurate to say his anti-Judaism as it wasn't the Jewish race or culture he opposed but rather their religion and theology.  He blamed them for Jesus' death on the cross.  He even wrote a treatise called "On the Jews and Their Lies," where he says their synagogues should be burned and houses destroyed, etc.  Twenty years before, he had the opposite view.  I found it especially sad that Hitler used that treatise during his Nazi campaign.  Many people viewed Jews the same way Luther did during his time but that doesn't make it right.  Malessa points out that the Holocaust does not have its roots in Lutheranism or in Catholicism, as apparently Hitler, some of the leaders and three fourths of the concentration camp commanders were Catholic.  That attitude is not biblical and Evangelical Church in Germany denounced Luther's anti-Judaism in an official statement.

I would highly recommend this book if you like Martin Luther, church history or just learning more about history, period.

I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

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