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Carl Trueman at Reformation21 has been blogging of late on Martin Luther. Below I’ll provide links to his series on what Luther saw as the six marks of a true theologian, and the nine qualities of a good preacher.

But first, he has a nice list of recommended books for those who want to become familiar with Luther and his work. Read the post for more details on each book, but here’s an outline:

Luther’s Life

Luther’s Writings

Luther’s Theology

Trueman writes:

To be tired of Luther is to be tired of life. Only crashing bores, I suspect, can remain untouched by him as they read his works, though, sadly, the church has more than a few of those hanging around her doors and pulpits. Still, I trust that the above will whet a few appetites for reading him, reading about him, and using him in the contemporary church.

In Table Talk Luther gives a list of six things that make a theologian. After introducing the topic, Trueman does a series of posts explaining the marks of the true theologian:

  1. the grace of the Spirit (as shaping the theologian’s identity)
  2. agonizing struggle (the essence of which is the universal experience of doubt as antithetical to faith)
  3. experience (the practical, real-life experience of the external word of God impacting the individual)
  4. opportunity (interpreting or responding appropriately to an opportune moment)
  5. careful and constant reading (particularly of the biblical text)
  6. a practical knowledge of the academic disciplines

(Note: numbers 5 and 6 go to the same link, as they are treated in a combined post.)

Then, in a short series, Trueman looks at the nine characteristic that Luther lists for a good preacher. A good preacher should have:

  1. an ability to teach
  2. a good head.
  3. eloquence.
  4. clarity of speech.
  5. a good memory.
  6. know when to stop.
  7. be certain and diligent in his subject.
  8. put his life, limb, possessions, and honor into his subject.
  9. be able to accept ridicule from anyone.

Marks 1-5 are dealt with in the first post, marks 6-9 in the second.


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10 thoughts on “Trueman: Recommended Books on/by Luther, and Luther on What It Means to Be a Good Theologian and Preacher”

  1. Brian says:

    Consider me tired of life, then.

  2. Richard says:

    No, Luther is a treasure. The more you read him, the more you say “yes, he has it.” Of course, there are times when you want to pull your hair out too at things he says.

  3. Francis Szarejko says:

    I would also recommend “Off the Record with Martin Luther: An Original Translation of Table Talk” translated by Charles Daudert.
    This is a new rendering of Table Talks with excellent commentary. By far better than anything I have read or found on the Internet.

  4. Matt Jacobs says:

    Alas, the more you read Luther, you more you must inevitably come to his anti-Semitic writings. His treasure declines into his tragedy.

    Moreover, while his early writings can be wonderful and “lightbulb over the head” edifying, his ego and his obstinance also caused some unnecessary schisms during the Reformation.

    At the end, let’s remember that he was just a man, and his writings are those of just a man. While I understand Trueman was just being Trueman, you can only be tired of life when you are tired of Christ. I think Luther would agree.

    Blessings,
    Matt Jacobs

  5. Matt says:

    I wonder how Lutheran Lutheranism really is today…

  6. John says:

    9 marks of a healthy lutheran…

  7. Just finished Table Talk last week. A gold mine.

  8. MRS says:

    Should also highly recommend the works of Gerhard Forde, too – an excellent summation of Luther’s work and thought.

    1. Richard says:

      Yes. On “Being a Theologian of the Cross.” Actually, Dr. Trueman has some good talks on the subject as well, found here: http://www.opc.org/new_horizons/NH05/10b.html

    2. Brian says:

      Most, or perhaps many, “conservative and confessional” Lutherans do not rank highly the writings of the late Gerhard Forde.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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