The date that entitles this brief quincentennial prologue may not be immediately recognizable, but it was momentous. On it, Martin Luther posted 95 theses about Christian faith on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Saxony, and launched the Protestant Reformation. While directly prompted by the selling of indulgences, whereby the buyer reduced suffering for sins, the document was fundamentally about salvation through Christ. Luther asserted that salvation was effected by God’s grace alone, approached by faith alone. Faith was manifested by repentance: “the whole life of believers should be penitence,” says the first thesis. Marty, the dean of American Lutheran church historians, argues that, eventually, Luther’s stance, from the beginning acknowledged by the Catholic Church as essentially correct (disagreement’s in the details), became the means of reunifying Christianity through ecumenism, a movement that became explicit and official with the Second Vatican Council of 1962–65. This volume is small but weighty and a solid addition for all modern Christianity collections.
Marty, Martin E. (author).
May 2016. 128p. Paraclete, hardcover, $19.99
REVIEW. First published April 15, 2016 (Booklist).