Category Archives: Martin Luther and the Reformation

A Letter from the Editor Regarding Luther’s Protest

Dear fellow servants of the Word,

Wise King Solomon observed, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). That certainly is true of books in general, and we can also safely say that it’s true of books about Martin Luther and the Reformation. In fact, it has been said that more books have been written about Martin Luther than any other person in history, except for Jesus Christ. I have never seen actual statistical evidence to back up that assertion, but it does seem reasonable. And over the years Northwestern Publishing House has contributed more than a few titles to that ever-growing list of books on Luther. This Reformation 500 anniversary year, NPH has published four new Luther titles and brought back into print or reissued new editions of several older Luther books. Some are aimed at younger readers and people with little knowledge of Luther. Other books are aimed at pastors and teachers, as well as laypeople who already have some knowledge of Luther and the Reformation. Continue reading

A Letter Regarding the New Catechism

Dear Brothers in Christ’s Ministry,

Luther wrote his Small Catechism to help pastors teach God’s Word, especially to children. He could not have imagined the sheer numbers of students who would be armed with the Word of Truth through his little book. No other book of Christian instruction has endured for almost 500 years. Not one! No other book of Christian instruction has been so widely used. It is with a deep sense of awe and gratitude that we consider the blessings God has given to the church through this book. It is truly amazing. Though our world has changed in innumerable ways over these last five centuries, the value and relevance of Luther’s Catechism are just as great today as when it was first written. Continue reading

A Letter from the Editor regarding 2000 Demons

Dear fellow soul-tenders,

Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us . . . (CW 200:3)

Will you be singing that hymn a few extra times in your congregation this year as you celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation?

What will those first two lines of the third verse mean to most of the people in the pews? What do they mean to you? I would have to admit that this is not the way I personally perceive my reality, my everyday life: that it is filled with fallen angels who, if they could have their way, would devour me and all that I hold dear. How often do you take that reality seriously? How often do the members of your congregation face up to this ever-present, world-filling threat? Continue reading

Martin Luther, Part 12: The Knight (continued)

The Writer and Translator

Martin Luther was not a man who could remain idle. There was work to be done. He couldn’t preach, but he could write. And it was here, in the “Land of the Birds,” that he did some of his most important writing. At first he had only his Hebrew and Greek Testaments, which he managed to put in his knapsack just before he was kidnapped near Eisenach. At various times Melanchthon and Spalatin secretly provided him with some of the books that he requested.  Continue reading

Martin Luther, Part 11: The Knight

When Elector Frederick saw that things were not going well at the diet, he feared for Luther’s safety. He knew that his enemies would try to seize and kill him as soon as the safe conduct was no longer in effect. He told one of his trusted knights to see to it that Luther would be taken to a safe hiding place. He said, “I want you to arrange to hide Luther somewhere in Saxony, but don’t tell me where he is. I don’t want to be able to answer any questions regarding his whereabouts.” Luther and Amsdorf knew something of what would happen on the way to Wittenberg, but they were not told the details. Continue reading

Martin Luther, Part 10: The Edict of Worms

The Edict of Worms

Charles V was angry. The next day he summoned the electors and princes to ask their advice. He had already made up his mind to put Luther under the imperial ban. He said, “I wish to proceed against him as a notorious heretic, and ask you to declare yourselves as you promised me.” But the electors thought it wise not to condemn Luther without making another effort to persuade him to recant. They knew that Luther had many followers who would come to his defense. Some were powerful German princes. The emperor finally was persuaded to appoint a small committee to confer with Luther. In the discussions with that committee Luther made it very clear that he would recant only if he was proven wrong on the basis of the Bible and clear reason. That the committee would not accept. Continue reading

Martin Luther, Part 9: Luther Before the Diet

Both Luther and Elector Frederick had requested that the hearing take place before a committee appointed by the diet. At first the diet agreed to this, but on April 17 Luther was told that he was to make his appearance before the diet itself. He was also told to conduct himself courteously and not to speak except when answering questions. At four o’clock, Pappenheim, the imperial marshal and Sturm, the herald, conducted Luther to the episcopal palace. The streets were crowded with people so that they had to use side streets and alleys to get to the palace. After waiting two hours, Pappenheim and Sturm led Luther into the court chamber. He was accompanied by his friend and legal advisor, Jerome Schurf. Continue reading

Martin Luther, Part 8: The Accused (continued)

The Summons from the Emperor

Luther had dared to defy the pope. What would happen now? On January 3, 1521, Pope Leo X announced the formal excommunication of Martin Luther and his followers. The pope thereby decreed that everyone was to consider Luther and his supporters heretics and heathen. The church had excommunicated Luther, but that was where its power ended. It could not imprison him or punish him by death. Continue reading