A World Ablaze The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation – Review
Craig Harline’s A World Ablaze The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation is a thorough yet readable biography of Martin Luther. This book handles the big moments of Luther’s fast rise to infamy. But it also covers a lot of the other major people involved in protecting, challenging, and threatening the German monk.
Martin Luther famously started the Lutheran religion by posting his 95 theses on the Wittenberg church doors. Harline takes the time to discuss whether Luther actually nailed (or glued) these to the doors and even if that would be out of the ordinary to do so.
Luther’s life is really interesting beyond this single, well-known moment. He was a scholar and prolific writer, writing many more theses, pamphlets, and full-length books about his ideas. But he wasn’t merely a contrarian and definitely not a heretic. His theses were challenges to the Catholic church, and his words were harsh especially against the pope. But his books and sermons were clearly based in scripture from the Bible.
A World Ablaze does a great job discussing Prince Frederick’s patronage to Luther. Without his help, Martin would have most likely been arrested and possible burned at the stake as many wanted. The intrigue, including a fake kidnapping, reads like a novel.
While focused more on the five or so years after the 95 theses, this book includes a lot of historical nuggets that add interest. Luther’s writing was almost unbelievable considering that during part of the time he was still preaching, traveling, and defending his theses. In one period of time he published around 20% of all the books published in Germany. This at a time when the printing press was still a fairly new invention.
A World Ablaze The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation is a great introduction into Luther’s life. It isn’t as thorough as other books but really provides a spark for further study.
Note that I was raised a Catholic and only recently converted to Lutheranism. So the topic is of high interest to me.
Pair this with some Mystic Monk Coffee which I’ve tried (and liked) but have yet to post a review.