Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel

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Pickle Partners Publishing, 2018 M09 3 - 349 pages
Martin Luther is often thought of as a world-shaking figure who defied papacy and empire to introduce a reformation in the teaching, worship, organization, and life of the church. Sometimes it is forgotten that he was also a pastor and shepherd of souls. Collected in this volume are Lutherís letters of spiritual counsel, which he offered to his contemporaries in the midst of sickness, death, persecution, imprisonment, famine, and political instability. For Luther, spiritual counsel was about establishing, nurturing, and strengthening faith. Freshly translated from the original German and Latin, these letters shed light on the fascinating relationship between his pastoral counsel and his theology.

ďSince spiritual direction is not the wholesale application of general principles, but the painstaking working out of spirituality in specific situations, the personal letter is one of its best expressions. Luther knew the holy gospel and the human heart, and the double knowledge is evident on the pages of these letters.ĒóEugene H. Peterson, Regent College

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MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Rejecting several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517, which resulted in his excommunication by Pope Leo X and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor. Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of Godís grace through the believerís faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.

Lutherís translation of the Bible into the German vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.

THEODORE GERHARDT TAPPERT (1904-1973) was a distinguished church historian and Schieren Professor of the History of Christianity at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. He was also archivist of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod. His other translations include Pia Desideria (by Philip Jacob Spener) and The Book of Concord: Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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