From time to time I’m lucky enough to get sent books to review.
Today’s book is one that I was glad to review, and was looking forward to reading.
Andy Johnston has written a really readable, gripping and fast-paced biography of Luther, one of the key Reformers. Johnston has been careful to engage with the man and his writing – and does this by telling Luther’s story through Luther’s own words, as Luther grows older.
Ultimately, this is a good little book to introduce the man involved in one of the greatest moves of God in history. Luther’s childhood, faith, adulthood, marriage and legacy are all covered. Johnston makes a strong case that Luther was passionate in pursuit of truth. Mike Reeves’ Foreword makes this same point – that the pursuit of truth is far more valuable and useful than anything else. And, in this, as the writer’s craft is elegantly deployed, the reader is drawn towards the moment where Luther utters those famous words:
“The Word did it all…”
Finally, ‘Convinced by Scripture’ is unrelenting in its faithful and honest presentation of Luther as fully human. His anti Semitism is not ignored. His anger is not excused. His sexuality and view of second marriage is fully engaged with. The reader is treated to an entire chapter on his flawed character. With that, ‘Convinced by Scripture’ reveals it’s authors credentials – this is a careful but ultimately Christian book that longs to present Luther and his concerns in a way that makes sense and applies Luther’s passions to the world today. Johnston writes:
“Yet, whilst unity is precious, it must not be preserved at the expense of primary truth. There are some secondary issues where we can agree to disagree as Christians. But there are others, such as the authority of Scripture and salvation through grace alone by faith alone, which are non-negotiable”
I think that Johnston offers a helpful and timely reading of Luther for the Church in the world today. It isn’t perfect – as Luther was not perfect. It is overly brief, perhaps – just as Luther’s exploration and explanation of several things was perhaps brief. Ultimately, though, this is a readable and well-structured biography of a man that God mightily used. I’d commend it’s reading to anyone who takes this blog serious, and to anyone else interest in the way that ideas, faith and personality blend together to say something true.