Martin Luther in His Own Words: Essential Writings of the Reformation
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Martin Luther in His Own Words: Essential Writings of the Reformation

Baker Books / 2017 / Paperback

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Product Description

Though most Protestants—approximately 900 million believers worldwide—trace their spiritual roots back to the Reformation, many people today have only a vague knowledge of Martin Luther's extensive writings. Jack Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer step into this vacuum with Martin Luther in His Own Words, a carefully selected collection of Luther's works.

Organized around the five solas of the Reformation (sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, sola Christus, soli Deo gloria), the selections offer readers an accessible primer on works that are foundational to the theology of Protestantism in all its forms. An introduction to each writing includes an explanation of its historical context and theological significance.

Students of the Bible, pastors, teachers, and seminary students will find this collection an enlightening introduction to Luther in his own words and a useful addition to their libraries.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 080101932X
ISBN-13: 9780801019326

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    5 Stars Out Of 5 2 Reviews

Author Bio

Jack D. Kilcrease (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of historical and systematic theology at the Institute of Lutheran Theology. He is a church elder at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. He is the author of The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Christ and His Benefits, and his writings have appeared in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Lutheran Quarterly, Logia, and Concordia Theological Quarterly, among others.

Erwin W. Lutzer
(BTh, Winnipeg Bible College; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is pastor emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago. He has led tours to the sites of the Reformation in Europe, including Wittenberg, Worms, Geneva, and Zurich. He is the ECPA Gold Medallion Award-winning author of Hitler's Cross as well as many other books, including The King Is Coming, and When a Nation Forgets God, as well as Rescuing the Gospel. He is the featured speaker on three radio programs, including Running to Win. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area.

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Displaying items 1-5 of 9
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  1. Elizabeth Stone
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Luther on Luther
    November 2, 2017
    Elizabeth Stone
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Good selection of Luther's own works.
  2. JK Turner
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Solid book, if you are looking for a basic intro to Luther's writings.
    July 19, 2017
    JK Turner
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    My Rating -If you are looking for something

    Level -Short, but moderately difficult read. This isn't an intro for the Reformation, some knowledge of church history and theology will be needed.


    The title could be a bit misleading to some, i.e., one may think it is a sort of autobiography. However, the book is a collect of Martin Luther's writings. Twelve selections, to be precise, broken into five broad topics (cleverly) modeled after the five solas - fida, gratia, scriptura, Christus, and gloria.

    If you are unfamiliar, the five 'solae' (alone or only in Latin, think of the modern words sole and solo) was the cry of the Reformation. So the chapters are laid out in the Latin words mentioned above that correspond to faith, grace, Scripture, Christ, glory (to God). Delving into these is beyond the scope of a book review, but as this year (2017) is the 500 anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther was the initiator, it was a pretty interesting way to divide the book.

    There is an into by Kilcrease before each selection that helps with context and there are a few footnotes within the selections that are helpful for understanding particular, archaic, and/or theological/ecclesiastical terms.

    My Thoughts

    There is a difficultly in trying to review a sample pack of a book. My main critique would be that Luther's most famous writings are probably 'The Bondage of the Will' and his Larger & Short Catechisms, and if you know much about him, his commentary on Galatians, and of the 12 selections, only four come from sources other than these. Granted, this may have been their reason for the selections, but I would have preferred a more diverse grouping.

    I wanted to like this book more, but maybe because I am fairly familiar with Luther, it just didn't quite do it for me. However, if you do not know much about Luther's writings or the beginnings of the Reformation, this may be a great place to start. Kilcrease's introductions are great and very informative. Or, if you are curious about Luther's writings and don't know where to begin, this would be a great place to start. If you haven't read much, the translation footnotes are incredibly helpful and will make it an easier read the just pulling some of the freely available online versions of many of his writings.

    There is renewed interest in Luther and the Reformation in general this year as we approach the 500th anniversary and this book is one to read, if you are looking for something.

    If you were looking for a biography then check out Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. I haven't read it yet, but the general consensus seems to be that it is the best.

    If you think this book sounds a little to introductory, or you've read it and want more of Luther, then this collection (which I have read) seems to be the best next step (there is some overlap) - The Martin Luther Collection: 15 Classic Works

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
  3. Chris
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A good intro to Luther's writings
    June 12, 2017
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Regardless of what one thinks of the Reformer Martin Luther, he is an unavoidable figure in church history. His actions during what would be known as the Protestant Reformation would change the trajectory of the church for good and for bad forever. As such, his writings are must-reads for anyone interested in church history and Reformation-era theology. In this short collection, Kilcrease and Lutzer provide a good beginning introduction to the writings of Luther. Using the Five Solas as section headings, and with brief introductory comments, this book provides selections from Luthers most famous works, including On Christian Liberty, his commentary on Romans and Galatians, and The Bondage of the Will. For those interesting in Luthers, this would not be a bad book to start with. It gives you a taste of his thought and might lead the reader into reading these works in full.
  4. Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    In His Own Words
    May 25, 2017
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Five hundred years ago, the writing and teaching of Martin Luther set in motion within the church a series of reforms that were so widespread and foundational that we still speak of them as The Reformation. In this anniversary year, much is being written about the lives of the reformers, but direct access to Luthers commentaries, sermons, and lectures is an irreplaceable part of understanding the truth that triggered such sweeping changes in the way we understand justification by faith, freedom of religion, the nature of salvation, and the wonder of Gods grace. Based on updated translations by Dr. Jack D. Kilcrease, he and Erwin Lutzer have compiled and edited Martin Luther in His Own Words so that the essential writings of the reformation are available as a resource for study and for inspiration.

    The text is arranged around the five solas of the reformation with supporting excerpts from books, catechisms, commentaries, sermons, and lectures that flowed from Luthers pen:

    Sola Fide: Faith Alone

    A Christian is free lord of all and subject to none;

    a Christian is the most dutiful servant of all and subject to everyone.

    From On Christian Liberty

    Although Luther did not hold to mind/body dualism, he often used language of spirit and flesh, and this quote differentiates between the believers standing before God and her relationship with others on this planet. Both statements are rooted in the writing of Paul who made [himself] a servant to all while at the same time urged believers to owe no one anything except to love each other.

    Luthers Commentary on Galatians further explicates this relationship between faith and works with the stunning conclusion that, while the works of the law do not assist us in salvation, it is only people of faith who are truly doers of the law.

    Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

    To fulfill the law means to do its work eagerly, lovingly, and freely, without the constraint of the law; it means to live well and in a manner pleasing to God, as though there were no law or punishment.

    From Preface to St. Pauls Letter to the Romans

    Luthers translation of the Bible eventually became the standard translation within the German-speaking world (equivalent to our English KJV). In his introductions to each book, his teaching lived on long after his death, influencing both Tyndale and Wesley in their spiritual development.

    In his teaching and his writing, Luther affirmed the role of the law as teacher, but declared its insufficiency to bring about righteousness since it is impossible for humans to consistently obey the law. The role of the gospel is to pave the way for new life, a work of grace in which Christs righteousness is imputed to the believing heart.

    Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

    The clarity of Scripture is twofold, just as the obscurity is also twofold. The one is external, placed in the ministry of the Word; the other internal, placed in the understanding of the heart. If you speak of the internal clearness, no man sees one iota in the Scripture but he that has the Spirit of God. . . If you speak of he external clearness, nothing at all is left obscure or ambiguous. But all things that are in the Scriptures are by the Word brought forth into the clearest light and proclaimed to the whole world.

    From The Bondage of the Will

    Luther held a high view of Scripture, affirming that, indeed, the believer can understand what it teaches on a particular subject with careful teaching, and that knowledge of Christs saving death on the cross, the central teaching of Scripture, is through the Word and by grace.

    Solus Christus: Christ Alone

    The sins of the whole world, past, present, and future, fastened themselves on Christ and condemned him. But because Christ is God, he had an everlasting and unconquerable righteousness.

    From Commentary on Galatians: Christ Took Our Sin

    Death of the sinless Christ earned justification for those who believe. Luthers Christology differed from medieval theologians who were unwilling to accept Pauls teaching that Christs work on our behalf was a sin-bearing work rather than merely a superior moral behavior. He argued that if we do not believe our sins have been laid on Christ, then it is up to us to bear them.

    Soli Deo Gloria: Glory to God Alone

    But let this be said . . . that we are to trust in God alone and look to him and expect from him nothing but good, as from one who gives us body, life, food, drink, nourishment, health, protection, peace, and all necessaries of both temporal and eternal things . . . as an eternal fountain that gushes forth abundantly nothing but what is good and from which flows forth all that is and is called good.'

    From The Large Catechism

    When Luther and his colleagues discovered through visitations to country parishes that the state of Christian belief and practice were far from orthodox, he began writing summaries of basic Christian beliefs not to replace the Bible, but to facilitate study of the Bible and worship with understanding of who God is and all that He has done.

    Kilcrease and Lutzer provide just the right amount of editorial input and background material, and then allow the words of Luther to stand on their own. Looking through the cultural lens of 2017, Luthers quest for salvation and earnest pursuit of truth stands out in startling relief against our backdrop of spiritual malaise and cultural assimilation. Thanks be to God that the realities trumpeted by Luther and his colleagues assure us that it is possible even today to embrace a livelier faith and that those who believingly follow Jesus Christ are privileged and compelled to be among those who are always growing, always striving for clarity of belief and faithfulness in practice. Because of the work of Christ and the revealed truth of Gods Word, by grace and through faith, we are always reforming to the glory of God.


    This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  5. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Helpful selections from Luther's works
    May 22, 2017
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This year, 2017, marks the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. Luther was instrumental in initiating the movement but many may not be aware of his contribution. Kilcrease and Lutzer have accumulated selections from Luther's writings and lectures to help modern readers appreciate his works.

    The editors have organized the works around the topics of the five solas. They have added an introduction to each reading and updated the translations, clarifying what might not be understood by modern readers.

    I appreciated the selections included in this volume. There are portions from Luther's commentary on Galatians taken from notes on his lectures. There is his introduction to Romans, including a summary of the main topics of the epistle. It was this work that moved John Wesley as he heard it read. Additional readings are from Luther's Large Catechism. My favorite reading is from The Bondage of the Will. In it, Luther explains how Christ and His saving death on the cross is the central teaching of the Bible.

    Luther rediscovered the doctrine of justification by faith. He translated the Bible into the vernacular and believed preaching should be in the language of the people (not Latin). His work is an essential part of the foundation of contemporary evangelical Christian belief. I recommend this book to those who want to be familiar with Luther's works. Reading works from 500 years ago is not an easy task. The editors have done a good job, however, in helping contemporary readers tackle it.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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