Cover Image: Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This important figure in history and religion is very well done. The research was definitely done,. Well written. Enjoyed this and learned a ton. Will recommend to my friends.
Was this review helpful?
A thorough portrait on a powerful catalyst of the reformation upheaval. Fascinating historical reformation material tailored for contemporary readers. A great read and highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This year is the 500th Anniversary of Reformation Day, that eventful moment that changed the Church and the world. Despite having many volumes already written about this plucky and intelligent German monk, more remain to be said and written. This is probably due to the single greatest impact to the Church at large and how a single man stood against the huge Roman Church aristocracy. The impact of the resistance was so strongly felt that he emboldened many other early reformers to do the same for their jurisdictions leading to a multi-faceted Protestant movement. This book attempts to help us re-visit the story of Martin Luther, cementing its importance, and helping us be grateful for the faith and passion of this man, whose life and work should inspire us to keep standing up for the truth in the eras we are living in. Part of the inspiration for this book is to write for the masses instead of for ivory tower audiences. According to author Dyron Daughrity, this is not just a Protestant movement. It opened the floodgates for the dawn of the modern age; redefining religious freedom; modern capitalism; individualism; secularization; and the courage to change the world. It is also part of the author's personal journey in studying this important historical figure. By writing this work in a language for the common people, the author hopes to replicate the impact of what happened 500 years ago, when the common people stood up against the excesses of the Roman Church regime. It is storytelling of Luther's life and teachings.

Daughrity begins with the world of Luther, describing the political and social climate and the rising Portuguese ambition in the sprawling Roman empire. It was also a time of Muslim conquests but held back through political dominance by the Spanish and the Portuguese. Luther lived in a backdrop of two crises: Avignon papacy (1309-1377) and Great Western Schism (1378-1417), continuing the tense relationships between kings and popes; politics and religions. It was a time of tricky balance of power. We read about Martin Luther who as a little boy, was son of the peasants, yet was able to climb rapidly up the ranks of the social ladder. He was brought up in a strict home and often ridiculed in school. Yet, his drivenness would propel him to the highest academic discipline and passionate study of the Bible. Readers get to see how Luther excelled as a student in Erfurt University. Though not top of the heap, he is driven to learn. He cut short his law education as he thought that there are more eternal things to be concerned about. His decision to enter the monastery was triggered by a promise he made to Saint Anne, after surviving a scary bolt of lightning. He became a very pious monk and learned all he could on how to become a very good monk. Deeply engaged in theological studies, he would become equipped with many skills of study, interpretation, rhetoric, grammar, and priestly rituals. His admiration of the institution of Rome soon was soon derailed as he saw the corruption and hypocrisy surrounding the way things were being done. Priests were disrespectful of the sacraments. Morality was lax. People seemed more interested in the status quo than the way of truth and theological soundness. In Luther's mind, Rome had become a godless and unholy city. Chapter by chapter, the author highlights some of the most powerful events surrounding Luther:
His role as a theologian
His challenge to the Roman establishment with the 95 theses
The growing storm surrounding the dispute and the increasing hostility from Rome
Diet of Worms as a sophisticated chessgame, where one of the key purposes is how Rome tried to silence Luther. Here, the famous words of Luther were recorded:
"Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do likewise. God help me. Amen."
Luther's marriage to Katharine vob Bora and some curious details about making love under a sheet before onlookers
How the death of Luther affected Katherine
The writings of Luther
Luther's confrontation with the Pope to the point of people saying he was a "Protestant Pope"
His core beliefs

Martin Luther remains the most researched and referenced individual as far as the Reformation is concerned. Despite his opposition to many practices of the Roman Catholic Church, he remains within the Church. He didn't leave the Church. He was excommunicated by the Pope. He stood against the ills of the Church but not the Church. He attempted reforms from within the Church but was ostracized because he refused to toe the official line. Many of the things he did were radical moves which most ordinary citizens would never dare to breach. This was one bold individual who was empowered by the Spirit to point people back to the five solas of the faith:
Sola Scriptura; (Scripture Alone)
Sola Fide; (Faith Alone) 
Sola Christus; (Christ Alone) 
Sola Gracia; (Grace Alone) 
Sola Deo Gloria. (For the Glory of God Alone)
While his earlier years were commendable in terms of standing up for the truth, his later years were more controversial. Even fellow reformers like Zwingli and Erasmus challenged some of his theology. Many of them argued that Luther didn't go far enough. The author even said that if Zwingli and Luther had reconciled, the Protestant movement would not have been as fragmented. Some of Luther's writings had been accused on being antisemitic! This book provides a fascinating description of Luther in such a way that it reads like a novel. At the same time, Daughrity pieces together important historical milestones to help the reader appreciate the cultural and contextual background at that time. I appreciate how Daughrity begins with the intention to write for the masses rather than for academics. This means the book would appeal to a wider audience. The writing is at a popular level. The information is provided in chronological order, from Luther's birth to death. Key areas of Luther's life are covered. There is the personal and family background. There is the academic pursuit. There is the interactions with friends and key characters at that time. There is also a theological angle to help laypersons understand the reasons for the break with the Roman Church and the debates.

I am fascinated by one key aspect of Luther. The spirit of Protestantism still exists today. For scholars, this can be harnessed as a constant pursuit of truth. For conservative churches, this could be a continued struggle to stand up for the whole truth and the purity of the gospel. For progressive churches, it means learning to evolve and give space for diverse views without compromising on fundamentals. It is a continuing tension between standing up for truth and allowing room for diversity without tearing apart a community of faith. Luther was forced out of the Church because he refused to budge from his convictions. This is a familiar pattern. Denominations have split. Churches have been torn asunder. Wars have also been fought. Is peace possible? What does it mean to speak the truth in love? One troubling thought from the book comes from the "Experts at Division" section which is a criticism of Luther. For all of his wonderful things he had achieved, he failed to create a structure to avoid infighting and division. The continued fragmentation of the Protestant Church is a case in point. Luther is no saint even though he tried to be as pious as possible. While we celebrate the birth and renewal of the Church, we need to remember that the Church is still very much a work in progress. Perhaps, one of the most hopeful pointers about the purpose of Church comes from David Wells's in his excellent book: "Courage to be Protestant."
"This kind of church is an outpost of the kingdom, a sign of things to come in Christ’s sovereign rule. And this, I dare say, is the only reason we have for the church’s existence and service. It is the anticipation of that great day when Christ returns in his glory. It is pointing beyond itself to that moment. It lives in this world, but it lives because it has seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. This is the knowledge that changes everything. Business savvy, organizational wizardry, cultural relevance are simply no substitute for this. Unless the Lord rebuilds the evangelical church today, as we humble ourselves before him and hear afresh his Word, it will not be rebuilt. But if it is, then what we will see will be the true “attractional church.”
If you want to have a readable summary of Luther's life, this book is highly recommended.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Abilene Christian University Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Was this review helpful?
Non-Fiction titles often have awesome subtitles.  This title, Martin Luther: A Biography for the People, could not have been better stated. It is a perfect selection of words, straight forward and to the point, an excellent description of what lies within the cover of this book. I love History. I enjoy Biography’s. Especially one such as this, written by Dyron Daughrity.

The breadth of information in so few pages speaks well of the man, Martin Luther, who was indeed a thrifty wordsmith himself. Daughrity does well to tackle the life of this man many credit for the reformation starting with his well-known ‘Ninety-Five Theses’, nailed to the door of the church on October 31, 1517, meant as an invitation for debate that never occurred yet stirred the minds of many. Luther learned quickly to use the newly invented printing press to his advantage. Had it not been for his understand or the new power of the press and his abilty to speak to the comman man he may have been a forgotten footnote as many others just before him or after. He used this new technology to his full advantage, changing our relationship with the word and religion he felt had been hijacked by men who had lost their way.

The book details both Martin Luther’s birth and childhood as he framed it and the more likely reality that helped develop and inspire this man of faith. We learn of his family history and a rich life full of inspiration and fallibility all men have. It takes us on a journey towards his enlightenment first as a University student studying law and his quick decision to become an Augustine monk followed by his disappointment and changing thoughts on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and his dissatisfaction with the men who were said to be chosen to lead it.

“I, too, was so foolish as to carry onions to Rome and bring back Garlic.” Such was Luther’s thoughts after entering the holy city with awe and leaving with a fractured vision of it, as Daughrity explains:
“Probably more than most, he was shocked and disturbed by what he had witnessed, and his ire was always directed precisely at the clergy, not at  the city itself. In his view, the city had ben hijacked by people who had forsaken the truth.” – Dyron Daughrity, Martin Luther: A Biography for the People

From this point forward Luther became focused on trying to reform a faith he felt lost its way and did so with a vengeance towards anyone who dared speak against him. Luther was truly a brilliant man as well as a troubled and tortured soul who had a difficult relationship with his father and venom for many who dared speak against him. However, he was also a pastor to many and never ceased preaching or delivering sermons. He counseled and listened to many. Keeping his evolving thoughts on Scripture, specifically the Gospels, and Paul’s teachings, and the Psalms which spoke to his love of music.

Overall I found this to be a thoroughly educational as much as I enjoyed it. It is well told. It is unpretentious. It is a fair and balanced look at a complicated man in a difficult time. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the times, the man, the faith or any of the three individually.

I would like to thank  the Abilene Christian University Press for the opportunity to read this through NetGalley. I will be purchasing a hard copy to rest on my library shelf.
Was this review helpful?
Martin Luther

A Biography for the People

by Dyron Daughrity

Abilene Christian University Press

Christian , History

Pub Date 12 Sep 2017

I am reviewing a copy of Martin Luther: A Biography for the People through Abilene Christian University Press and Netgalley:

Little Did Luther know the impact The Ninety-Five Theses or Disputation for Clarifying the Power Of Indulenges would have, and how it would help to birth Protestant Christianity when he pinned those words to a church door on October.31.1517.  The words as dull as they may seem would help to birth modern day Christianity.

Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margaret on November 10, 1483, in what was already proving to be a pivotal age. Europe was coming on stage as a premier cultural and military as well as premier economic power in the world.  It was also beginning to assert itself in matters pertaining to religion.

Before and during Martin Luther’s lifetime, two critical developments were happening with the Church and State.  The Roman Catholic Church was struggling to rebound its worst crisis since becoming  a state church in the 300’s.  The crisis had two phases the first being Avignon Papacy from 1309-1377 and the second phase was The Great Western Schism from 1378-1417.  

Luther was well educated, an education provided by his Father. Luther first went off to the town of Mansfield to attend  school when he was seven t Luther lost two brothers to the plaque around 1507, and another sister died in 1520.  Three other sisters married and having families of their own.

Luther started out in law but he would change courses and on April.03.1507 Luther would be ordained into the priesthood, and in October 1512 Martin Luther is promoted to doctor of theology at the University Of Wittenberg.

In 1510 Martin Luther was twenty seven years old. He was a conscientious monk, an Ordained Priest and a promising graduate student.

Luther would become known as the man of the people.  As lead minister of the Parish Church, he became popular for his ability to tell stories in the simple terms of the people.

On October.31.1517 the eve of All Saints Day, Luther went public with the ninety five theses.  The ninety five theses spread quickly.  This surprising development was in large part due to the Gutenberg press that had been made in the sixth or seven decades before.  By the end of 1517 the Theses had been printed in Nuremberg, Leipzig and Basel.  Luther would never receive a penny from the yield.  

After the Leipzig debate in 1519 Luther became a household name.  He lost the debates but it is said to have motivated him.

On his way back from Worms, Luther was kidnapped it was May.04.1521.  

Much of Martin Luther’s success was brought through his writing.  

Martin Luther was forward thinking, radical for his time, but his willingness to stand up to centuries of rules and rituals would help create the Protestant Faith.  

I give Martin Luther: A Biography for the People five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
Was this review helpful?
This book could not have come at a better time, I have been fascinated with this later day monk, to the extent that I want to visit the villiage in which he made his sermons and pinned up those famous pieces of scripture on the doors of the church.
I admit to eating up everybit of information this book has to offer and that is alot, it is well formatted and written, it really outshines other books I have read on this subject.
If you go into this book blind, not really knowing much about Luther and the the following religious movement he inspired, then, by the time you have read this, you will be given insight most definatly.
I was interested becauseI love religious history and Tudor history and Lutherism seeped into the religious seams of the English collar and cuffs and I found the correlation betwix the reformation and what was going on inside Wittenburg at the time.
I thouroughly recommend this to anyone who wishes to read more about this era, and as the author states, he wrote this for the  'common' folk and not the scholarly, Luther wanted to educate the 'common' folk too and not take on the doctrines of Rome at face value. ( hope that makes sense?!)
Thank you do much for letting me get my hands on this, I loved it!
Was this review helpful?
An excellent Biography on the life of Martin Luther. I knew much about Luther that was generally known but other ideas and concepts are included in this book. Interesting to read about Luther's childhood days, his friendships and the life of his parents. Of course Wittenberg, Wartburg, The 95 thesis and all of the reformation info is in here.  I enjoyed flow of the book. It was relaxing and covered an in-depth range of ideas about the man who changed church history. I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys this topic.
Was this review helpful?