Products>The Theology of Martin Luther: A Critical Assessment

The Theology of Martin Luther: A Critical Assessment

Format: Digital


Does Martin Luther have anything to say to us today? Nearly five hundred years after the beginning of the Reformation, Hans-Martin Barth explores that question in this comprehensive and critical evaluation of Luther’s theology. Rich in its extent and in its many facets, Barth’s didactically well-planned work begins with clarifications about obsolete and outdated images of Luther that could obstruct access to the Reformer.

The second part covers the whole of Martin Luther’s theology. Having divided Luther’s theology into twelve subsections, Barth ends each one of these with an honest and frank assessment of what today can be salvaged and what’s got to go. In the final section he gives his summation: an honestly critical appropriation of Luther’s theology can still be existentially inspiring and globally relevant for the twenty-first century.

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Key Features

  • Examines systematically the theology of Martin Luther
  • Provides critical analysis of the whole of Luther’s theology
  • Shows the relevance of Luther’s thought for us today


  • Luther: Objectively and/or Subjectively
  • Methodological Problems
  • Entry Points
  • Difficulties in Approaching Luther
  • Alternatives: Between Cross and Self-Determination
  • Breakthrough: From the Hidden to the Revealed God
  • Tension: Between Law and Gospel
  • Identity: “Both Sinner and Justified”
  • Dialectics: Freedom and Limitation
  • Complementarity: Word and Sacrament
  • Struggle: Between the “True” and the “False” Church
  • Division of Labor: God’s Left and Right Hands
  • Christian Existence: Secular and Spiritual
  • Intercalation: Time and Eternal Life
  • Conflict: Between Theology and Philosophy
  • Rivalry: Between Sacred Scripture and Human Tradition
  • What Endures
  • What We Should Let Go
  • What Needs to Be Developed
  • Martin Luther’s Theology: Existentially Inspiring and Open for Global Integration

Praise for the Print Edition

Like a scalpel, Hans-Martin Barth’s The Theology of Martin Luther exposes, analyzes, and evaluates the unique body of Luther’s theology. It provides, like never before, criteria for a realistic celebration of five centuries of Luther research (1517–2017).

—Eric W. Gritsch, lecturer, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

Barth’s forthrightly critical but passionately appreciative reading of Luther in the context of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries models how we may fruitfully engage Luther’s discerning, perceptive reading of Scripture and sensitivity to the human struggle in ways that speak to the people of our time, who live in a vastly different world than his.

—Robert Kolb, Emeritus Mission Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary

This magnificent study offers an honest and compassionately critical account of Martin Luther’s ‘provocative theology of existence’ with its tensions and integrative possibilities for future generations. Hans-Martin Barth is bringing Luther back to the ecumenical center, especially with the reformer’s Trinitarian foundations, and invites the readers to contemplate on what of Luther may endure for the future, and to whom. An indispensable companion for teachers and students alike, now available in an engaging English translation.

—Kirsi Stjerna, professor of Reformation church history Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

Product Details

About Hans-Martin Barth

Hans-Martin Barth is an emeritus professor of systematic theology and philosophy of religion, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany, and a former president of the Evangelical Alliance. He is the author of many works including Dogmatic: Protestant Faith in the Context of World Religions, 3rd edition and Authentic Feel: Impetus to a New Self-Understanding of Christianity.