Review of “The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther”

Published August 3, 2014 by Mitch Chase in Books, Church History, Martin Luther

Lindsey, Andrew J. The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2013. 100 pp. $11.95.

God gifted his Church with the person of Martin Luther at an appointed time and place. It is hard to underestimate the significance of Luther regarding the years of the Reformation and the abiding influence of his works. While we may know specific events of Luther’s life or memorable quotes from his works, Andrew Lindsey wants you to consider his life as a whole. The title of his book aptly conveys his goal: to take the reader on a journey through the life, teaching, and legacy of Luther. Lindsey’s degree in and devoted study of church history make him a trustworthy guide.

In the opening sentence of the introduction, Lindsey writes, “It is my goal in writing this work to render an account of Martin Luther’s life that is brief, simple, accurate, and evangelical” (ix). In my judgment, Lindsey succeeded in this goal. There are hefty tomes on Luther, and some biographers may not prioritize writing on a level that almost anyone could appreciate, so Lindsey has done readers a great service by providing a concise treatment that touches on the important issues of Luther’s life while at the same time not being intimidating with jargon or word-count. Adults will benefit from this book, and it is something their children can read as well.

Lindsey is a gifted writer in his clarity and presentation of Luther. The twelve chapters are short but stocked with helpful information.
1) Origin, Education, and the Monastery
2) Early Monastic Career, First Mass, and the Pilgrimage to Rome
3) Professorship in Wittenberg and Evangelical Experience
4) Background to the 95 Theses
5) Posting the 95 Theses
6) Interview With Cardinal Cajetan
7) The Leipzig Disputation and the Papal Bull
8) The Diet of Worms
9) “Sir George”
10) Marriage and Family Life
11) The Augsburg Confession
12) Death and Legacy

Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection and discussion. Sprinkled throughout the book are sketches of Luther and individuals and events associated with him, and these sketches add to the book’s aesthetic appeal. The bibliography at the end is an invitation to go even deeper into Luther’s life and works.

Do you know why Luther became a monk? Do you know the verse that was influential in his conversion? Do you know why he nailed 95 Theses on a church door? Do you know why he was declared a heretic by the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church? Do you know the context of his famous “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise”? Do you know about the amazing writing feats he accomplished in Wartburg Castle? Do you know why he, who previously thought he’d remain a single man, decided finally to marry? Do you know Luther’s last written words? Do you know what Luther called the essence of the Bible’s theology? Do you know which of his books he deemed to be chief among his other works?

Here’s the bottom line: Christians need to know about Martin Luther, and The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther is the place to begin. I’m thankful for Lindsey’s work on this project, and I know Christian schools and churches would benefit from using his book. More so, families will be edified by reading it and discussing it. As is the case with any good but concise treatment of a subject, Lindsey’s book on Luther will leave you wanting more!


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