Luther’s writing introduced mass media, unified a nation, restructured German literature and arts, and revitalized church liturgy.

Martin luther was many things to the sixteenth-century Christian church: reformer, teacher, orator, translator, theologian, composer, and family man. He came to symbolize everything the Protestant Reformation stood for.

Yet, had it not been for his powerful influence as a writer, all the changes he brought about and all he taught on the interpretation and practice of the Christian faith would have never had such a universal and long-lasting impact.

The man whose five-hundredth birthday is being celebrated all around the world this year published some 420 works on a wide range of topics, from The Babylonian Captivity of the Church to A Marriage Booklet for Simple Pastors. He wrote prefaces to, and brilliant sermons and commentaries on, every book of the Bible, his translation of which into German changed forever his country’s language, literature, and dramatic arts. He also composed several hymns, most notably Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”). With all of that, he still found time to be a tender and witty correspondent of such enormous output that over 3,000 letters have survived.

In a time of intense restlessness, revolt, and violence, Luther’s pen took the place of the sword he refused to wield, and its influence reached far into the future.

John Wesley, confronted with Luther’s teaching one night in 1738, wrote in his Journal·. “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through ...

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