Editor’s Introduction: Why Luther? -- By: Jonathan Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:1 (Winter 1999)
Article: Editor’s Introduction: Why Luther?
Author: Jonathan Armstrong

Editor’s Introduction: Why Luther?

John H. Armstrong

Martin Luther was a man of great courage. He was also mortal and weak. He knew his own heart all too well. He had doubts and often needed assurance from God. He had no doubts quite so severe as the doubts he entertained about the whole effort of the Reformation.

Oh, with how great an effort and exertion, also with proof from Holy Scripture, did I barely succeed in justifying before my own conscience that I, a lone man, dared rise against the pope, consider him the Antichrist, the bishops his apostles, the schools of higher learning his houses of ill fame! How often my heart struggled, rebuked me, and threw up to me their one and strongest argument: You alone are wise? Can it be that all the others are erring and have been erring for so long a time? What if you are erring and leading into error so many people, all of whom will be eternally damned? Such questions continued until Christ strengthened and settled me by His own certain Word so that my heart no longer struggles ....1

Luther later added:

I hope that He will acknowledge that it [the Reformation] has been in His name, and, if any impure motives have crept in—since I am a sinful man of ordinary flesh and blood—will graciously forgive them and not deal severely with me in His judgment. 2

Of one thing we can be absolutely sure. Luther is clearly one of the most significant figures in the history of Christianity. Generally speaking, most Christians have either

loved him or hated him, depending almost entirely upon how they understand the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation and what ultimately happened to divide the visible church during the upheaval of those days. But what do modern evangelicals really know about Martin Luther? About his theology? About his sermons? About his understanding of important biblical doctrines?

In our previous issue (Volume 7, Number 4) we provided an overview of the life and thought of Martin Luther. Considering how much Luther wrote—there are 54 volumes of his works—and how much has been written about him—thousands of books and articles since the sixteenth century, it is a daunting task to get the measure of this Reformer and his massive thought. The difficulty of the task, for our staff at least, was underscored by the amount of good material submitted to our editorial office for the theme of Martin Luther. As a result of the quantity and quality of material provided we agreed to turn our Luther issue into two installments. Therefore, the issue you now read ...

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