The Ethics of Martin Luther

The Ethics of Martin Luther

The Ethics of Martin Luther

The Ethics of Martin Luther

Synopsis

This comprehensive, systematic survey of Luther's ethical thought and teaching clearly discusses all the major ethical issues that concerned Luther. Contemporary readers will be especially interested in what the Reformer has to say about the Christian's attitude toward secular society, toward the state, and toward war. The Ethics of Martin Luther offers scholars and nonspecialists alike a much-needed explanation of Luther's ideas.

Excerpt

The Ethics of Martin Luther appears at a particularly significant point in the church's encounter with Luther. After some fifteen years, the American Edition of Luther's Works is close to completion. For the first time, nearly the full scope of Luther's thought will be available to the English-speaking world. No one can know what this will mean for the future development of Christianity outside the homeland of the Reformation, or even what the gradual appearance of these volumes over the years has already meant. For it lies in the very nature of this edition that its effects will be felt primarily not in publications but in sermons, in church school classes, in pastoral care, and in the conversation of the brethren.

When plans for the American Edition were first announced, there was a question whether the church could muster the editorial patience and translating skill to complete so great a task. There was also reasonable doubt as to whether Americans would buy enough copies of such an extensive edition to make the project economically feasible. All such questions have been resolved by the appearance of the Edition itself. Indeed its quality and widespread acceptance raise a far more serious kind of question about the relationship between Luther and his American readers.

During the past few years, we have seen the handsome series of volumes in a multitude of pastors' studies and church libraries. And whereas we were once pleased by its unexpected presence, we are now more likely to speculate about the reasons for its absence. But another more subtle impression remains: bright and colorful rows of books, always in sequence, dust jackets sometimes faded but rarely frayed, the earliest volumes showing no more sign of use than the most recent, in short, orderly and respected nonuse. If these impressions are valid, then we need now—now that the task of making Luther available has been resolved—to lead people into a fruitful encounter with the Reformer himself. There is a sense, of course, in which that is really beyond our do-

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