Today, we celebrate the 501st anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I’ve been reading LUTHER: A Visual Book by Stephen McCaskell and Aaron Armstrong (Patrol Books, 2017) to our girls before bed this week.
The book is advertised as a gorgeously illustrated companion to the award-winning LUTHER documentary. The marketers aren’t kidding. Rommel Ruiz’s illustrations are amazing. My girls have noticed the facial expressions of the people in particular at several points.
But what I love most about the book is that it treats Luther so fairly. Martin Luther is known as one of the driving forces behind the Reformation, and a vital figure in the history of Christianity and the world. He was a remarkable yet flawed man. Honesty about his sins—both his brash language and anti-Semitism—have been a part of our conversations.
If Luther’s looking down from the great cloud of witnesses, I think he’d approve of this straight-forward treatment of his earthly life. The doctrine of justification that Luther helped recover reminds us that we are simul justus et peccator, that is, simultaneously declared to be righteous people as well as sinners. In this life, both of these identities cling to us. The book makes clear that the doctrine holds true for Luther as well.
The book of course also describes Luther’s conversion, his contribution of translating the Bible into the people’s common language, and the way he helped recover the good news of the gospel.
This is not necessarily a kids book. The prose would be tough for younger children, but it has been perfect for our middle elementary and middle school girls. I’d encourage you to pick it up as a Christmas gift and consider working through it with your family next October.
If you liked this, you may also like… Happy 500th Birthday Protestants!