Book Review: Luther on the Christian Life

In Luther on the Christian Life, Carl Trueman surveys the life of Martin Luther and draws connections to how the contemporary church can benefit from the reformer’s theology. Although the book is around 200 pages long, Trueman is still able to give readers a generous sampling of Luther’s illustrious life. Trueman assumes the reader to have some theological background but diligently avoids trying to explain sophisticated terminology or theories. From Luther’s birth to his death, Trueman points out vital turning points that impacted Luther’s life and theology. At the core of the book, the author’s aim is to illustrate how Luther’s intense love of God’s Word and sacraments are so vital to the 21st century church. Trueman argues that present-day Christians look to experience God through extraordinary events or experiences while Luther believes that the Christian life is rooted firmly in the ordinary means of grace. By highlighting the dynamic personality and raw emotions of Luther, Trueman points out that the famed theologian was not a stoic, unsympathetic scholar but a passionate servant of the Word ever concerned about the welfare of God’s people.

I would gladly recommend this book to those who are unfamiliar with the 16th century theological giant. For those who know Luther’s life and theology well, this book may be on the lean side but Trueman’s familiarity with the subject makes the reading applicable and enjoyable to a large audience. The author’s witty and concise writing style keeps the book moving at a brisk pace but provides enough details to allow the reader to appreciate the subjects discussed. Each chapter ends with helpful concluding thoughts that Trueman uses to relate the material discussed for readers to ruminate on.  After reading the book, I had to confess of the many excuses that I have conjured up to explain away my lack of passion in embracing God’s Word and the sacraments. I would rather listen to the latest podcast discussing substitutionary atonement than open the Bible and read Isaiah 53 to focus on the work of Christ. May we all learn from Luther’s humility and passion for God’s Word along with his insistence that we are all beggars in need of God’s grace to sustain us each and every day.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

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