National Book Award winner Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, turns his scholarly pen to Martin Luther in this compact yet meaty biography.
Marty portrays Luther as a "God-obsessed seeker of certainty and assurance in a time of social trauma and of personal anxiety." Rather than highlighting his most obvious flaws, Marty lets Luther's words and actions stand for themselves. He sticks strictly to the man and the events of his life, leaving others to examine Luther's posthumous influence.
Marty presents Luther as a mass of contradictions: a man of courage who often lived in dread; given to verbal violence but sometimes tender; unimpressed by popes but enamored of princes; a man who fought against perceived injustices yet who held many prejudices.
As Luther's life unfolds chronologically, the reader enters the world of the high Middle Ages, with its fierce battles over infant baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the place of grace and works in the life of the Christian. Political intrigue salts the pages, but Marty is matter-of-fact in his account rather than imaginative or sensational. This story of how one man's passion for God broke the hold of a religious system is a noteworthy contribution to writings on Luther.
Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).
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More information about Martin Marty is available from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago.1