Simonetta has written several books in her Christian Biographies For Young Readers series that include giants of Church history such as John Knox, John Calvin and Athanasius. She has also authored books on women of the faith like Lady Jane Grey and Marie Durand. You will find my review of Marie Durand here. Her latest volume in the series is of the renowned, Martin Luther.
“It took only a few months for ninety-five troubling questions to stir a nation, and only a few years for them to shake a continent, changing the course not only of the Western church but also of world history.”
Martin Luther was born in 1483 in a small town in central Germany to hardworking parents, Hans and Margaritha. By today’s standard, Martin Luther’s parents would be considered strict and so would his schooling. This seemed to serve him well as he graduated from the University of Erfurt with excellence.
It was during a journey back to college after a summer visit with his family before his final course of studies, that Martin Luther was caught in a treacherous thunderstorm. Being consumed with the fear he had not done enough to please God, Martin Luther was terrified of dying.
“Fearful at the thought of having to face God, he cried, “Help me, St. Anne! I will become a monk.”
Seeking protection from God and Jesus who were seen as angry judges of sinners, Martin Luther added a promise to do something good in return for the Saint’s protection which was common among Roman Catholics.
Much to his father’s chagrin, Martin Luther made good on his promise and entered the Monastery. Despite his works, rituals and sacrifices, Martin Luther continued to doubt he was accepted by God.
What must he do to be at peace with God? He was desperate to learn the truth. His angst was palatable.
By 1512, Martin Luther had become a professor of Bible Studies, though he still wasn’t certain he was qualified to teach, nonetheless, from this point on he was refered to as, Dr. Luther.
“As it was customary, he took an oath promising to teach the Scriptures faithfully.”
During this time, Pope Leo X was having financial difficulties and hatched a plan that he would create more ‘indulgences’ to sell.
“Indulgences were official declarations that people could buy a shorter stay in purgatory.”
Being that purgatory was seen as quite unpleasant, people were anxious to make their stay as brief as possible and the sales of ‘indulgences’ became a fully fledged business.
Pope Leo secured the assistance of a preacher named, Johann Tetzel, who would create a frenzy of sorts when it came to marketing the ‘indulgences’.
“Whoever has an indulgence has salvation. Everything else is of no avail.”
Tetzel even created a jingle;
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
Dr. Luther became increasingly concerned over the false hope of salvation the ‘indulgences’ were creating. It was this concern that led Dr. Luther to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517, solidifying him as a seminal figure in The Protestant Reformation.
Unbeknownst to Dr. Luther, that act, would reverberate forward and backwards throughout history.
Dr. Luther’s story doesn’t end there but rather it gains traction. Simonetta’s book allows us to travel through the Diet of the Worms where the famous quote was birthed;
“I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither right nor safe to go against conscience.”
From there we follow Dr. Luther’s challenges of disguising himself since he was considered an outlaw, to his prolific writings, to getting married and raising a family, and eventually, his death. There are stories within these stories.
In addition, there is an educational section called, ‘Did You Know?’ As well as a section that includes portions of Dr. Luther’s Catechism.
Simonetta’s books are so well crafted that it’s delightful to simply hold them and explore the texture and artistry within and without. Still, it is what Simonetta has captured amongst her precise and enlightening writing that is fascinating for all ages.
“Soon it was obvious he was going to die. One of his assistants asked him, “Are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?” Luther replied, “Yes.” That was his final word.”
Purchase Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr
You can also visit Simonetta at her blog: Christian Biographies For Young Readers