It seems appropriate to post this today.
I recently received a hardback copy of a new book about Martin Luther by Richard Rex (“King”), professor of Reformation history at Cambridge.
The Making of Martin Luther (Princeton Univ. Press, 2017)
He sets out, as he states, “to explain Luther’s ideas – to explain what they were, what was distinctive about them, and how he worked them out.” He wants to avoid caricatures.
I am assured by a correspondent:
I have known its author since he was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, England in the early/mid 1980s. He is a practicing orthodox Catholic, and the father of six children. Fr. Hunwicke commented on the book HERE. [Very funny, btw.]
The book is not “polemical” in the way that Luther and His Progeny ed. John Rao is – not that Rao’s collection (which I am currently reading) is not a fine work as well – but I do not see how the discerning reader can come away from the book without some distaste for the figure whose intellectual and theological “development” it analyzes. And with such a founder as Luther (just as with Joseph Smith for the Mormons or Francis Hodur for the “Polish National Catholic Church”) it may make one question the credibility of “Lutheranism as an -ism.”
That said, since I read the polemic book, I will will read what is promised to be a non-polemical.
A comment in the preface drove me right away to look first at a specific chapter. In the preface:
The key to Luther’s theology is his notion of certainty. Luther, who might in some ways by regarded as the intellectual progenitor of the “masters of suspicion” (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud), called a great deal into doubt.
So, I turned immediately to Chap. 4: The Quest For Certainty. It was rewarding.
BTW… the other Luther book mentioned, above, is:
Luther and His Progeny: 500 Years of Protestantism and Its Consequences for Church, State, and Society, edited by John Rao.
Let’s just say that these writers are not about to become Lutherans. Fr. Hunwicke, who reviewed Rex, penned an essay for Rao.