Book Review: The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson


What would A Line Line of Godly Men be without a biography of Martin Luther? Considered the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther was known for his recovery of the gospel truth of justification by faith and challenging of the Catholic Pope’s authority as head over the church. The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther is a short, but impactful book that demonstrates the life, philosophy, and achievements of this German Monk.

Like the other biography books in the series, this Martin Luther book is not an exhaustive biography, although it certainly contains biographical elements, most notably in the first chapter of the book. Chapter 1 is a fitting beginning that speaks about the early upbringings of Luther and how he eventually entered the monastery (following the lightning strike incident). It was during his years of study of God’s word that led him to realize the sinfulness of mankind and the futility of achieving salvation by works. This book brilliantly documents his conversion process and the convictions that have come out of it. He became a heroic man for standing up for the Christian faith in the midst of papal attacks that distorted and long hid the true meaning of salvation by faith.

The other chapters describe Luther’s philosophy of ministry and approach to the pulpit. As Chapter 2 documents, Luther was a man deeply convicted that Scripture was inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient. It cannot be superseded by the writings of the church fathers, the Catechism, or even the Pope’s fallen interpretation. Because the Bible contains the mind and will of God, Luther believed in the need to understand it through diligent study (Ch 3), which included study of the original text languages. The word of God must also be preached expositorily on the pulpit, taking the meaning of the text, explaining it, and exhorting the congregants through application. Luther has been noted for speaking about making the Scriptures clear, understandable, and relatable, in contrast to the practices of his day in which Scripture was in Latin and the teaching was over the reach of the commoners. Finally, Lawson documents the passion of Luther. In preaching, Luther is demonstrated to have zeal and contagious excitement, which shows that he understood human nature and how to effectively involve them in the understanding and attention to the word of God.

This book is an informative and inspirational book that teaches about the need to boldly defend the gospel and to preach it effectively. In many ways, it is a good preacher’s manual in that it demonstrates how a preacher is to approach the text (in humility and in the Spirit) and what ingredients go into making a great sermon (long studies, good introduction, verse-by-verse commitment, pleas and exhortations, passion). This is definitely a call for Reformation as Lawson repeats in the Conclusion. Luther’s life demonstrates what ingredients led to Reformation – Christ exalting, God exalting, and Word exalting church. That is what is missing in modern evangelicalism right now, which is why this book is both insightful and important for our day and age. It is a title I would highly recommend for the preacher of God’s word, the evangelist, and even laypeople who want to understand the importance of biblical inerrancy and exposition.

Note: I received this book as a complimentary copy from Reformation Trust Publishing. I was not obligated to give a good opinion, but only my honest take.