You can listen to a great interview with the author on Issues, etc.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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Read more and order here.
It arrived yesterday. Is is a huge book with a phenomenal amout of material in it never published in English before--800 large pages of documents. Oi! However, it is far from dry. I took it with me while waiting at the doctor's office with someone to check it out, and was determined not to deface it by highlighting and underlining. But: by the time I got to Francis Pieper's "The Fruitful Reading of the Writings of Luther", all my resolve crumbled. I will keep the book for myself and I will underline in it. I even read the whole document to Martin at night and enjoyed it together. Here are little quotes from the above mentioned Pieper talk based on Walther's theses (p.686,ff):
Bugenhagen saw Revelation 14:6-7 explicitly fulfilled in Luther. Therefore, this first thesis is of great importance. God holds Christianity accountable when it fails to recognize this man as the Reformer of the Church. We dare not think in regard to Luther: 'We could do the same. We could find the truth through diligent study just as well as Luther did.' No. When God fills His prophets with the Spirit and light, He does so for the common benefit of the Church. And woe to the Church if it does not make use of God's tool, but would rather pass over it. A church in which Luther's writings are not first of all studied by the pastors and then also, at their encouragement, by the common Christian certainly does not have Luther's spirit. And Luther's spirit is the pure evangelical spirit of the faith, of humility, of simplicity.
He is quoting Walther. I sympathize with Walther. Better, I should say "agree". Any of us who have come from Germany and heard the little bit of lip service to Luther by quoting just wee little sentence quotes, but never actually getting acquainted with him, and then found him after wandering lost in Pietism, will find him ever so much more the font of Gospel truth.
The polemic writings of Luther are now very much despised, but they are the greatest documents that have ever come from the hand of a man. They prove the truths of Scripture. They demonstrate Luther's great faith and his spiritual cheerfulness. Everything is well grounded. Luther speaks so robustly because he is fighting either the Antichrist or the miserable Schwarmgeister. Buttermilk and honey cannot heal all illnesses. There must also be bitter medicine. Luther raced a thousand-year-old oak tree of enormous girth. He could not cut it down with a penknife. He had to apply a powerful ax and sharp saw. Thereby Luther's heart would melt with grief for the poor souls that sat in darkness. Whoever is offended by this fiery zeal is offended at God, who chose such an instrument.
And a warning of misuse:
Merely invoking Luther's opinion is dangerous, when one thereby gives the appearance that faith is somehow dependent upon Luther's authority. The preacher must have already demonstrated the matter from God's Word, and then Luther can be brought to bear as witness...