Luther, Martin. Edited and translated by Holger Sonntag. Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus: Martin Luther's Complete Antinomian Theses and Disputations. Minneapolis: Cygnus Series/Lutheran Press, 2008. 409 Pages. Paper. $15.50. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)
Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and Arranged by Paul Strawn. Christians Can Be Soldiers: From Martin Luther's Whether Soldiers Too Can Be in a Holy Estate. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2010. 123 Pages. Paper. $6.00. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)
Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Adapted by Paul Strawn. Convicted by the Spirit: From Martin Luther's Postil 235 - John 16:8-13). Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2009. 105 Pages. Paper. $.6.00. www.lutheranpress.com (LHP)
Luther, Martin. Edited by Christopher Boyd Brown. Sermons V (Luther's Works, Volume 58.) St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 489 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. http://www.cph.org (LHP)
I've said it once and I'll say it again: Christians need to read more Luther. And not just in time for Reformation Day. Sit down with him at least once a week. And graduate from the one Table Talk Volume. Read his exegetical and theological works. And then, challenge yourself.
Pick up Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus.
The title is intimidating because it is in Latin.
And because Luther uses formal logic and great rhetoric inside.
If you don't know Latin, buy the English-only edition.
I appreciated this volume for two main reasons.
This is not a critical edition, but it is a bilingual Latin-English edition. This edition's title, "Only the Decalogue Is Eternal," comes from page 128, the 34th argument of the first disputation (7).
Many today are unfamiliar with the logic-heavy and theologically demanding exercise of disputations as a way to do theology. How does one deal with false/ambiguous/unclear teachings in the church? This is one way. Motive and method are important (205, 277). Luther himself took on Agricola's teachings on the law of God. He did it in several rounds. Agricola recanted, and Luther accepted this recantation, suspicions remained (15).
The experience of reading all the theses and disputations in one volume is a very positive one. It has aided my preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and understanding of Walther's Law and Gospel.
I look forward to more in this elegant, substantial, and unique Cygnus Series (Latin for swan) imprint of Lutheran Press in addition to their two volume biography of Matthias Flacius and new offerings in their popular Luther series.
Christians Can Be Soldiers is one of two examples of Lutheran Press' popular series of the works of Luther.
And that's how I've personally used this volume. It was good reading to prepare to give pastoral care to returning veterans and retired military. It was a supplemental volume to a 2011 midweek Bible Class on Islam through Christian eyes. And it is as relevant as when it was first published.
Sonntag's translation gives Luther an appropriately conversational and earthy tone. Editor Paul Strawn's study questions are properly insightful and Socratic in that they allow the reader/class to make the mental connections and the joyful discovery of what Luther says from God's own Word about war and those who have the vocation for it.
Convicted by the Spirit is a second volume in series of popular versions of Luther's Works.
A commentary on John 16:8-13, readers will learn:
Accessible for the modern reader, Strawn and Sonntag have developed a translating, editing, and formatting process that works (105). And I want more for the sake of the Gospel!
Electronic versions are available on the Lutheran Press website. Personally, I prefer the neat paperbacks to purchase and give away.
I've taken to reading Luther more closely in Lent. The new volume of sermons (Sermons V) in the Twenty-first Century expansion of the American Edition of Luther's Works was ideal Lenten reading for me.
Volume 58 is an ideal supplement to the four widely-available volumes of Luther's Church Postils translated/edited by John Nicholas Lenker.
Nothing whatsoever will help us except to pay serious attention to God's Word with all diligence to help preserve it for ourselves and for our descendants, especially by maintaining good schools and educating the youth, for they are the seedlings with which the Church of God, like a beautiful garden, is cultivated and propagated (262 and 279, as also quoted above).
Lutheran Christians know that reading Luther is good for them for he preaches the Word and points us to Christ. These five volumes will edify you and those whom you serve. I pray that this review will encourage you in why they are good so that Luther may be a continued blessing to the Lord's Church.
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.