Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith

Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith 136 Book Reviews / Ecclesiology 7 (2011) 97–136 Robert Kolb, Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 215 pp. £50.00. ISBN 978-0-19-920893-7 (hbk). Th e professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, has given us a very handy introduction to Martin Luther and his theology. He sets Luther in the context of his times and the reception of his reputation, and gives us an intellectual biography with several excursuses on particular aspects of Luther’s thought. One aim of the book is to take account of recent research and this is dovetailed neatly into the narrative. Kolb’s work does not take the place of Bernhard Lohse’s Martin Luther’s Th eology (ET Fortress Press, 1999) with its twin tracks of historical and systematic presentation. It is more dynamic, but less substantial, than Paul Althaus’s Th e Th eology of Martin Luther (ET Fortress Press, 1966). And it does not supersede Gerhard Ebeling’s Luther: An Introduction to his Th ought (ET Fortress Press, 1970), which distils the essence of Luther’s dialectical method. But Kolb’s is a very serviceable, fresh and stimulating study, which could well be put into the hands of under- graduates of any Christian tradition as their initiation into Luther. Anyone who grapples with Luther in depth can never be the same again. Luther’s ecclesiology is given its due. Th e sacraments are taken under the rubric of the Word of God (‘God’s Power and Presence in the Oral, Written and Sacramental Forms of His Word’) and the eucharistic controversies are clearly expounded without the argument getting too technical or convoluted. Th e shape of the Church is discussed under the title ‘Lambs Listening to their Shepherd’, which captures Luther’s striking sense of the intimate relationship of trust and love between Christ and his own. Th e phrase ‘the priesthood of all believers’ is repeatedly used on pp. 157-161, but no references are given to this wording in either Luther’s own writings or the Lutheran confessions. Th is phrase is a read- ing back of a later Protestant slogan, which has come to mean something rather diff erent to what Luther intended by the common priesthood of the baptised. It is good to see Luther’s deployment of natural law recognised (pp. 178ff ) and to have the concept of the Two Kingdoms sensibly explained (there is no one meaning: pp. 176f ). As well as being the apostle of justifying grace, Luther was also the theologian of Christian love (the supreme command for Christians: p. 178). Th ere is a choice discussion of Luther on marriage, sex and womanhood (pp. 180ff ). A fi ne all-round introduction to Luther. Paul Avis Th e Council for Christian Unity, Westminster, and the University of Exeter paul.avis@c-of-e.org.uk © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI 10.1163/174553110X541076 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecclesiology Brill

Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith

Ecclesiology , Volume 7 (1): 136 – Jan 1, 2011
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Brill
Copyright
© 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1744-1366
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1745-5316
D.O.I.
10.1163/174553110X541076
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Abstract

136 Book Reviews / Ecclesiology 7 (2011) 97–136 Robert Kolb, Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 215 pp. £50.00. ISBN 978-0-19-920893-7 (hbk). Th e professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, has given us a very handy introduction to Martin Luther and his theology. He sets Luther in the context of his times and the reception of his reputation, and gives us an intellectual biography with several excursuses on particular aspects of Luther’s thought. One aim of the book is to take account of recent research and this is dovetailed neatly into the narrative. Kolb’s work does not take the place of Bernhard Lohse’s Martin Luther’s Th eology (ET Fortress Press, 1999) with its twin tracks of historical and systematic presentation. It is more dynamic, but less substantial, than Paul Althaus’s Th e Th eology of Martin Luther (ET Fortress Press, 1966). And it does not supersede Gerhard Ebeling’s Luther: An Introduction to his Th ought (ET Fortress Press, 1970), which distils the essence of Luther’s dialectical method. But Kolb’s is a very serviceable, fresh and stimulating study, which could well be put into the hands of under- graduates of any Christian tradition as their initiation into Luther. Anyone who grapples with Luther in depth can never be the same again. Luther’s ecclesiology is given its due. Th e sacraments are taken under the rubric of the Word of God (‘God’s Power and Presence in the Oral, Written and Sacramental Forms of His Word’) and the eucharistic controversies are clearly expounded without the argument getting too technical or convoluted. Th e shape of the Church is discussed under the title ‘Lambs Listening to their Shepherd’, which captures Luther’s striking sense of the intimate relationship of trust and love between Christ and his own. Th e phrase ‘the priesthood of all believers’ is repeatedly used on pp. 157-161, but no references are given to this wording in either Luther’s own writings or the Lutheran confessions. Th is phrase is a read- ing back of a later Protestant slogan, which has come to mean something rather diff erent to what Luther intended by the common priesthood of the baptised. It is good to see Luther’s deployment of natural law recognised (pp. 178ff ) and to have the concept of the Two Kingdoms sensibly explained (there is no one meaning: pp. 176f ). As well as being the apostle of justifying grace, Luther was also the theologian of Christian love (the supreme command for Christians: p. 178). Th ere is a choice discussion of Luther on marriage, sex and womanhood (pp. 180ff ). A fi ne all-round introduction to Luther. Paul Avis Th e Council for Christian Unity, Westminster, and the University of Exeter paul.avis@c-of-e.org.uk © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI 10.1163/174553110X541076

Journal

EcclesiologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2011

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