by MICHAEL HARDING
Luther An Introduction to his Thought by Gerhard Ebeling (Collins 45s.) WHAT was wrong with Luther? Why did he not try to reform the Church from within thus preserving Christian Unity? This book gives us the key to Luther's thinking. It is one of the few books about Luther which arc not controversial. Even the name of Martin Luther has polemical connotations, This work, however, is a cool critical analysis of his thinking. Even attitudes of mind are excluded except where they occur in support of the main theme. The Thinking behind the attitudes and concepts is gradually unfolded with supreme skill. It becomes clear that Luther had a great intellectual capacity, a great gift of ora tory, but almost a complete lack of Vision. The author bases his work on Luther's main themes such as Letter and Spirit, Law and Gospel. Passages from Luther's writings give an introduction to each of them. The writing suffers a little in translation. Due to this and the profound nature of the subject itself, the treatment becomes ponderous in places. The conflict between scholasticism and Luther's Biblical Theology is discussed in great depth. Turning back to scripture, Luther finds that the apostles saw all things created some relationship in time and therefore manifested soionship with the future. Things were subject to change. Scholasticism on the other hand was static and dogmatic. Though it aimed at concilia tion between Dogma and Thought, Faith and Reason, Luther preferred the more pragmatic field of the Scriptures for his sources of Truth.
was also am Blind to the fact that scholas ticism amenable to swerved ry change he weed into an ambit where only doubt and despair were supreme. This is the general impression of this reviewer. It seems to me that Luther's great weakness was his failure to recognise the importance of the Church. Put in simple terms word of God his faith in the ignored Faith in the voice of God, e.g., His teaching Church. Having no faith in the Church meant failure to get perspectives right. Many of his ideas were good and have been applied in our post-Conciliar days. Had Luther remained a n faithful son within the Church instead of breaking away, the Christian disunity and Moral Chaos of today might have never happened. This may seem trite but it is true. This book is a fair and objective introduction to Luther's mind. It could be another milestone on the road to Christian unity.