Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World
Illustrated by Greg Copeland
(Concordia, 2004), hb., 32 pp.
I have seen this book and heard good things about it, so this year I decided to buy it for Reformation Day. I am glad I did!
This is an excellent brief overview of the work of Martin Luther. Maier, as a historian, knows his facts, but the key thing about the book is that it gets the key issue of the Reformation- the gospel. This is not a collection of facts about Martin Luther but the story of how God used Martin Luther to recover the gospel, which is “the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). Maier captures the heart of the reformation in a way that is understandable for young readers. It is also very nicely illustrated by Copeland.
The book opens not with Luther, but with God as one who rescues his people and sends servants to keep His church pure. Luther is introduced as one of these people. Then Maier explains the corruption of the medieval Catholic church, writing:
In those days, the Christian church no longer based its beliefs on the Bible alone. It had actually invented new doctrines and practices that Jesus and His apostles had never taught. Sadly, too, the church leaders of that time, far from setting a good example for their people, sinned worse than the people did!
Maier then surveys the key events and accomplishments in Luther’s life in an engaging way. The book closes then summarizing the many contributions Luther gave to the world, ending with this:
But his greatest gift of all was to find in God’s Word the answer to the question that had tormented him as a monk: ‘What must I do to win God’s forgiveness for my sins?’ The Bible showed him that God had already done it all for him by sending Christ whose suffering and death paid the penalty for sin and whose resurrection would be shared by all those who had faith in Him. That great good news is the Gospel- the central message of the church that is as great today as it was 500 at Luther’s time, or in Jesus’ own day.Amen! This is what I want my kids to understand from Luther and the Reformation. Great truths, important history, well told and beautifully illustrated- this is a great book and I recommend it for every family.