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Here I Stand: Martin LutherWarm-hearted Luther

There have been many biographies of Martin Luther, the German spearhead of the Reformation, but this must be the most readable: Here I Stand: Martin Luther, by Roland Bainton (Lion, 1978, ISBN 0-7459-1008-4). It's illustrated, too, with contemporary woodcuts.

Luther emerges, not as some reclusive thinker in an ivory tower but as warm-hearted, outspoken and passionate. Here are a few gems.

The most intrepid revolutionary is the one who has a fear greater than anything his opponents can inflict upon him. Luther, who had so trembled before the face of God, had no fear before the face of man. (p135)

If sacramentalism is undercut, then sacerdotalism is bound to fall. (p137)

Balaam's ass was wiser than the prophet himself. If God then spoke by an ass against a prophet, why should he not be able even now to speak by a righteous man against the pope? [quoting Luther] (p154)

Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching. St Augustine was troubled in conscience whenever he caught himself delighting in music, which he took to be sinful. He was a choice spirit, and were he living today would agree with us. I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance and the like. Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honour. I would not exchange what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that next to the Word of God only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devils music is distasteful and insufferable. My heart bubbles up and overflows in response to music, which has so often refreshed me and delivered me from dire plagues. [quoting Luther] (p341)

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