Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas. Viking. 296 pages. 2017
****

The author is one of our best current biographers having written major works on Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, as well as shorter biographical works. In this book he aims to separate the facts from the myths about the great Reformer’s story, as he looks at Luther “warts and all”. Assuming that most are familiar with the main points of Luther’s life, I’ll focus on unique aspects of Luther’s story that this book offers.
The first myth he addresses is that Luther’s family were humble peasants. In reality, he writes, Luther’s father was a miner. Another myth that the author dispels is that Luther’s father was harsh, strict and severe.
The author writes that others (Wycliffe and Huss, for example), sought to reform the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church before Luther, though few remember much about those early Reformers, compared to what we know about Luther.
The author as is his custom, fully embraces his subject giving us a detailed life of Luther. However, much of what he dispels as myth, I’ve learned from Luther scholars such as R.C. Sproul, Stephen Nichols, Michael Reeves and Roland Bainton.
As a monk, Luther dealt with the issue of how are we to be forgiven of our sins. A 1,600-mile round-trip to Rome was key for Luther. There he wondered “Who knows if it is true?” There he saw the immorality of the priests, with them doing masses in as little as 9 minutes.
Metaxas gives us a different take on Luther’s famous breakthrough about justification by faith in Romans 1:17. Basing his speculation on Luther’s own words, the author speculates he may have had this breakthrough while sitting on the toilet.
The author also speculates that perhaps Luther actually didn’t nail his famous “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg Church door after all, but that this was posted by a custodian.
At the Diet of Worms Luther was asked to recant his writings. After asking for time to consider the request he delivered his response the following day in both German and Latin. His response included his famous “Here I stand” and appealed to his conscience. The author tells us that conscience in Luther’s time did not mean what it means today (appeal to our own truth). Instead, it meant appealing to God’s truth.
Another myth that the author dispels is Luther’s famous throwing of an inkwell at the Devil. The author indicates that event never happened.
Luther, a former priest and monk, would marry Katie, a former nun. The story of the escaped nuns being smuggled in fish barrels is a myth, according to the author. Luther grew to deeply love Katie, and would sadly lose two daughters to death. The author states that he valued women more than most men at that time.
The author highlights conscience, dissent and freedom as he discusses Luther’s legacy. The book includes some adult language; most, if not all, from Luther’s writings. The audiobook version is well-read by the author, who brings his characteristic wit to the task. Continue reading

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13 Reformation Resources to Help You Prepare for the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation  

On Sunday, October 29, churches around the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenberg Church door, signaling the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. To prepare you for Reformation Sunday, below are 13 Reformation-related resources:

What Reformation resources do you have to add to this list?


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My Review of Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer

DVD Review – Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer
****

Luther is a well-made documentary that serves to introduce the great reformer to a new generation.
This excellent film arrives as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg. The film is directed by Stephen McCaskell, who also worked on the outstanding 2015 documentary Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
McCaskell uses a variety of ways to interestingly tell the story of the great reformer. Barry Cooper serves as the film’s narrator, and we see him on location at several sites. The film includes a number of beautiful aerial shots of Germany. It also includes artistic animation and interviews from respected theologians, pastors and historians R.C. Sproul, Stephen Nichols, Steven Lawson, Robert Godfrey, Carl Trueman, and Robert Kolb. The film also includes some excellent music.
The film quickly takes us through the life of Luther, including the importance he placed on music, as a family man, the impact – for good and bad – of his tongue, and his writings against the Jews.
The church must, in every age, always be reforming to the Word of God. The film tells us that there are about 2.2 billion Christians in the world today. Although things seem dark for the church in many ways today, we do have hope.
With my DVD, I received a code to download the new book, The Legacy of Luther edited by Stephen Nichols and R.C. Sproul, which I am reading now. If you order the DVD online, you also get a free download of the film’s soundtrack. The film will be released April 21. To pre-order, go here.


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How I Spent Spring Break: 9 Reflections on the 2017 Ligonier National Conference

Almost every year since 1997, my wife Tammy and I have left the cold of the Illinois winter to head down to the sun and warmth of Central Florida to attend the annual Ligonier Ministries National Conference. This year’s conference, held March 9-11, was their 30th National Conference. It had a theme of “The Next 500 Years” and was being held on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Thus, many of the speakers referred to Martin Luther and his influence in their addresses. The conference was held in the wonderful facilities of the First Baptist Church in Orlando where it has been held most years, sold out months in advance, and featured an excellent lineup of speakers, including John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton and more.

As Ligonier President and CEO Chris Larson told the attendees at the beginning of the conference, “Pace Yourself”. The three-day conference can be exhausting. In total, there were 26 sessions you could attend, in addition to a prayer session, two mini-concerts, and a bookstore tour. I always purchase copies of the messages and listen to them multiple times in the months after the conference. Here are the daily highlight posts that Ligonier posted about the conference:

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Here are 9 reflections I have from this year’s conference: Continue reading