95: The Ideas That Birthed the Reformation (Martin Luther) – Review

Nov 24 95-copy-1

 ~ About the Book ~

In 1517, an unknown Augustinian monk, informed by his growing belief that salvation is by faith alone, published and distributed a stark criticism of papal abuses in the Catholic Church. In doing so, Martin Luther lit the spark for what would become the Protestant Reformation.

What became known as the “95 Theses” was a series of statements expressing concern with corruption within the church, primarily the selling of “indulgences” to the people as a means of releasing them from acts of penitence.

For the five hundredth anniversary of Luther’s revolutionary writing, This volume combines each thesis with an excerpt from one of his later works to provide a convenient way to understand the ideas and concepts that became the seeds of the Protestant Reformation.

Release date:  8 August 2017
Pages:  192
Publisher:  Whitaker House Publishers

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

Luther mask

Print out a fun Luther mask here.

~ Review ~

This is a great resource for those wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the document and the ideas that set the Reformation in motion. I knew the basic facts: Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, and he was protesting against certain practices and teachings that had arisen within the Catholic Church, such as indulgences and purgatory. This book has given me a greater understanding of the specifics, and in the words of Martin Luther himself, no less!

However it’s not only useful for its historical insight. The Bible itself says there is nothing new under the sun, and as I read through this book I was struck by the fact that, although Luther was addressing specific practices of the time, many of his supporting arguments are just as relevant to us today as they were to the church 500 years ago. What is true penitence? In what (or whom) do we place our hope—works or faith? The excerpts here often highlighted to me that we still share the same weaknesses and tendencies as those Luther originally addressed, even if they manifest in different ways in our modern world.

Each ‘chapter’ (one for each thesis point) is relatively short, so this is an ideal resource for those who are looking for something that can be taken in and digested in small bites. I actually think that is the more profitable way to read this as the translation, while eminently readable, is still scholarly in style, and the substance of Luther’s arguments is worth reflecting on.

The one thing I would say is that I would have preferred a more definite distinction between the words of each of Luther’s theses and the excerpts that followed. It took me a couple of chapters to realise that the first line in each chapter was actually the thesis point, and the text that followed was the excerpt taken from Luther’s other writings. However, that is a very minor detail. I have no hesitation in recommending this to anyone who would like to deepen their understanding of why Luther felt it necessary to stand up to the church leaders of his day.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a German monk, priest, professor of theology, and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the sale of indulgences, the church’s practice of selling pieces of paper that guaranteed freedom from God’s punishment for sin. In 1517, Luther directly confronted this and other papal abuses by publishing his “95 Theses.” In 1534, Luther published a complete translation of the Bible into German.

~ Guest Post from Whitaker House Publishers ~

In 1517, a thriving new industry was sweeping northern Germany. Begun a few centuries earlier, its reappearance in the 16th century was perhaps the cleverest abuse of church power to date. Church officials strapped for cash decided to offer remission from the punishment for sins, or “indulgence,” to German believers in return for a commensurate amount of money. The slick church salesmanship of indulgences incensed one young priest, who believed that faithful Christians were being manipulated and the Word of God misinterpreted. He wrote a pamphlet comprised of 95 claims that he hoped would inspire scholarly debate. Titled Disputation of Dr. Martin Luther Concerning Penitence and Indulgences, it went down in history as “The 95 Theses.”

Most historians believe that Martin Luther did not intend to spark a public debate. It was written in Latin, the language of scholars, and pinned to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church which served as a “bulletin board” of sorts, where Luther knew fellow theologians would see it and perhaps engage in a discussion on the topic.

Luther’s pamphlet, how­ever, was not another piece of paper flapping in the wind. Someone translated into German, and distributed it to the public with the help of a recent invention—the printing press. Luther tried to retrieve his work, but the damage was done. Within weeks, the debate that began in Wittenberg spread throughout Germany, and within months, all of Europe.

Five hundred years later, Whitaker House presents each of Luther’s 95 Theses paired with an excerpt from his many writings. Not every excerpt directly relates to the accompany­ing thesis, but we endeavored to select passages in which Luther was expounding on the same subject. Where further explanation was thought necessary to contextualize his words, a footnote is included. We hope you find 95: The Ideas That Changed the World an accessible and fascinating look into the ideas of this groundbreaking priest who stood up for God’s Word, the grace of the gospel—and made history.

~ Giveaway ~

Luther Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Whitaker House is giving away

Grand Prize: 95: The Ideas That Birthed the Reformation by Martin Luther, KJVER Sword Study Bible/Personal Size Large Print-Burgundy Genuine Leather ($60 value), Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book.
First Place: 95: The Ideas That Birthed the Reformation by Martin Luther, “This is The Day” ceramic mug from Christian Arts Gifts, Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book
Second Place: 95: The Ideas That Birthed the Reformation by Martin Luther, Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c517

~ Blog Stops ~

Tour Home Page

November 24 – Lane Hill House

November 25 – Book Reviews From an Avid Reader  //  Fiction Aficionado

November 26 – Pursuing Stacie

November 27 – The Power of Words

November 28 – Blossoms and Blessings

November 29 – A Greater Yes

November 30 – Karen Sue Hadley

December 1 – Mary Hake

December 2 – Texas Book-aholic

December 3 – Bigreadersite

December 4 – Carpe Diem

December 5 – A Baker’s Perspective

December 6 – Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

December 7 – Multifarious  //  A Reader’s Brain

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, New Releases, Non-Fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 95: The Ideas That Birthed the Reformation (Martin Luther) – Review

  1. Good review. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Weekend Book Buzz – 25/26 November 2017 | Fiction Aficionado

  3. jenniferjbunderle says:

    Excellent and thoughtful review! Thank you for sharing so well!

    Liked by 1 person

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