A Short Note on Steven J. Lawson, “The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther”

In reading this book I was arrested almost at once by this passage (xvi, emphasis added, footnote omitted):

… With the aim of restoring the Word of God to the life of the church, Luther used every legitimate means to make known the truths of Scripture.  His strategies included writing books, tracts, pamphlets, and letters, as well as classroom lectures, public debates, and heated disputations in churches and universities.  But his chief means of producing reform was the pulpit.  Luther was, as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserts, “pre-eminently a great preacher.”

This is the author’s overarching theme.  Accordingly, while this short book is of general interest (see endnote below), it would be of greatest use to preaching pastors, and of course especially those of the reform persuasion.

It’s interesting to think about how the most favored medium has changed over time, and the McLuhanesque relationship between medium and message.  Consider, for example, emphasis on persuasion rather than ritual, on Biblical text, on a decentralized message, on vernacular rather than Latin — all this sounds very Protestant.  And using a sermon (versus, say, a book) requires brevity, simplicity, and directness rather than prolix jargon.  And the use of spoken rather than written word, and of course in-person rather than broadcasted speech, is a product of that time and place, with still-limited literacy and publishing in Luther’s era.

[Endnote:  This book is one of the “Long Line of Godly Men Profile” series, and its author — a prominent American minister — is also the series editor.  The idea of the book (and the series) is to hold up various Christians (all Protestants, I think) as exemplars; the book concludes that we need more men like these.]