Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography – Herman Selderhuis


I have to admit, biographies are usually not my go-to reads. They are often thought of as dull and boring with endless details and descriptions of everyday life. But this spiritual biography of Martin Luther is a breath of fresh air! 

Selderhuis’ writing is very simple and concise. The details of Luther’s life are carefully chosen and each section tends to focus on major aspects of his life that contributed to his spiritual and religious acclaim. The simplicity of writing comes out in Selderhuis’ own translation of many quotes from Luther in the book.

The main goal is to set Luther in his own context. It begins by describing the religious and cultural world that Luther was born into. It was a strange world that drastically affected how Luther viewed God and how He relates to His creation.

After setting the background, the chapters move forward, working through different areas and positions of Luther’ life, as Child, Student, Monk, Exegete, Theologian, Architect, Reformer, Father, Professor, and Prophet. As Selderhuis works through these various aspects of Luther’s role in the life of the Church, there are major tensions as he forms his own beliefs over against the prevailing and dominant Catholic influence of the day. This tension is high throughout the book, considering his struggles with the Roman Catholic Church were never-ending.

One of the main focuses is Luther’s spiritual journey from beginning to end. You get an up close and personal look into his struggles, his doubts, his worries, etc. He was a complex and far from perfect man with a desire to live for God. You get all of the complexities, the imperfections, and yes, the victories in his pursuit for God and the truth of His Word.

This is a biography for those who are not big biography fans! Though biography-junkies would love it as well. I would recommend this to better understand Luther’s spiritual growth and walk with God, as well as the religiously tumultuous times in which he lived.

Read & Repeat

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