Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation

Course No. 6633
Professor Phillip Cary, Ph.D.
Eastern University
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Course No. 6633
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Course Overview

He was only one man—a humble monk and Bible professor—yet he sparked a religious rebellion that changed the course of history. Who was Martin Luther? What made his theology so explosive in 16th-century Europe? Was it really his intention to start Protestantism, and with it a new church?

How did this late-medieval man launch the Protestant Reformation and help create the modern world as we know it?

And how should we think of him: hero or heretic, rebel or tormented soul?

Martin Luther is so interesting to study, Professor Phillip Cary believes, because he is so controversial. In fact, Luther may be more interesting to study today because the controversy surrounding him is more complicated—less black-and-white—than when he was alive.

Many Catholics today find things in Luther to respect and admire, while many Protestants reject aspects of his legacy as misguided, embarrassing, or even evil.

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation will help you reach your own conclusions. This course explores Luther's theology, the circumstances surrounding his conclusion that the papacy was "antichrist," and major issues and events in the Reformation as it unfolded in Luther's life after he posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517.

Professor Cary presents Luther as a multifaceted human being, a man with extraordinary virtues and profound flaws. You will meet an inspiring religious thinker who presented the Christian Gospel as a message of comfort, joy, and freedom; as great good news for sinners and God's loving promise of salvation. And you will encounter a leader whose unswerving certainty about his doctrines led him to launch vicious attacks against those with whom he disagreed most infamously and malevolently—the Jews.

What makes this course so involving for students is that it is not intended to leave you with a neutral impression of Luther. Professor Cary wants you to use his lectures—supplemented by your own research and reading—to make your own judgments about Luther, the man and his teachings.

In addition, he encourages you to ponder some larger implications of Luther and the Reformation. How should we view argument and disagreement? Are they opportunities to prove we are right or ways to find the truth? Can we find ways to disagree that could improve relations between religions—between Catholics and Protestants, and between Christians, Jews, and Muslims—and strengthen the quest for faith in a post-modern world?

Luther's Compelling Theology: "Believe It, and You Have It"

This is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the origin of the controversies associated with Luther: his distinctive doctrine about the power of the Christian Gospel. Throughout these lectures, Professor Cary carefully traces the often subtle and challenging thinking behind Luther's central theological doctrine of justification by faith alone.

You will see how Luther modified the traditional Catholic notion, derived from St. Augustine, of the relationship between God and man. In this Augustinian paradigm, the spiritual life was a journey in which believers drew near to God through a lifetime of expressing love and doing good works.

Luther felt at the bottom of his heart that his love and good works were never good enough. Schooled by medieval practices of penance and confession that arose long after Augustine, Luther could not escape the thought that he was a sinner who must eventually face the judgment of God, all the while incapable of meriting God's love and approval.

In the face of that terrifying thought, Luther believed the only possible comfort was the Gospel of Christ, which is not about what we do but about what Christ does. The Gospel, Luther taught, is God's promise of salvation in Christ (and as Luther insisted, "God doesn't lie"). Instead of works of love meriting God's approval, all that is required to be justified in God's sight is to believe this promise. As Luther often put it, "Glaubst du, so hast du": Believe it, and you have it.

You will see how this simple concept—to be justified simply by believing God's promise—exploded like a bombshell in late-medieval Europe. It offered certainty of salvation to ordinary people whose consciences tormented them with the thought of horrific punishment after death. It freed German Christians from financial exploitation by a Roman church that sold Masses, indulgences, and other means of warding off punishment in the next life, and used the profits to fight wars, build ostentatious churches, and keep mistresses.

In addition to this pivotal notion of justification by faith alone, Professor Cary surveys Luther's whole theology as it is expressed in such works as On the Freedom of a Christian, Treatise on Good Works, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and The Bondage of the Will.

You will follow Luther from his disturbing early view of justification through self-hatred; to his mature breakthrough in thinking of the Gospel as a sacramental promise; to his later and, once more, disturbing notion of unfree will and predestination, in which a "hidden" God (deus absconditus) chooses, in advance, which souls to save and which to damn.

Throughout, Professor Cary underscores the thought-provoking nature of Luther's theology by emphasizing not only its details, but its larger implications:

  • Why is so much of Luther's thinking based on the writings of one man: St. Augustine?
  • What strengths did Catholicism and Protestantism lose by their separation?
  • Why is the Bible—and certainty about what it means—so important to Luther and Protestantism, and how does that relate to Christian fundamentalism?
  • And, given recent ecumenical thinking, does Luther's theology still offer reasons why Catholicism and Protestantism should remain separate?

Medieval Background, Modern Consequences

This course will enable you to understand Luther in context—to grasp the medieval background and modern consequences of his life and thought. These include:

  • Circumstances surrounding Luther's break with the church: his 95 Theses, his trial at the Diet of Worms, and the Edict of Worms, which declared him not only a heretic but a criminal. You will explore a variety of issues that are often misunderstood. What was Luther's purpose in posting his theses? Was he already a rebel against the Catholic Church, protesting against it? Or was that label thrust upon him by his papal opponents?
  • Controversies within the Reformation: Professor Cary examines Luther's disagreements—on topics such as baptism, the Eucharist, and predestination—with other Reformationleaders: Andreas von Karlstadt, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin. These comparisons will help you appreciate Luther's distinctive location in the Reformation movement, standing between the more conservative Catholic Church and the more radical forms of Protestantism.
  • The Lutheran impact on church and state: For his own protection, Luther aligned himself with local German princes against the authority of the pope. In addition, his "two kingdoms" theology assigned greater authority to the state in protecting the religious life of society. But states that protected rival forms of religion, Catholic and Protestant, were inevitably drawn into bloody religious warfare. The modern principle of separation between church and state emerged as a way for Europeans to stop killing one another in the name of Christ.

Good, Bad, or Somewhere in Between?

This course portrays Luther in a way that is simultaneously critical and sympathetic. Luther offers both wonderful good news and vicious attacks on his opponents. Professor Cary is interested in exploring the connections between these two sides of Luther.

You will learn about Luther the exceptional writer, who did for German what Dante did for Italian by making the deepest concepts of religion accessible to unlearned people in their own language. To translate the Bible, he listened to how ordinary Germans spoke, learning from butchers, for example, the names of animal parts used in biblical passages about animal sacrifice.

In addition, ordinary Christians identified with Luther's affirmation of the spiritual value of marriage and family life. He saw his own wife and children as gifts of God, even in hard times and bereavement; picking up his crying child, he could say, "These are the joys of marriage, of which the pope is not worthy."

On the other hand, Luther's commitment to the certainty of his own beliefs led him to the borders of wickedness and beyond. During the Great Peasant War of 1525, he used his theology to assure German nobility that they could destroy the rebels in good conscience. He refused to retract his views even after the repression led to the killing of women and children.

Luther was given to accusing anyone who disagreed with him, from other Protestant leaders to the pope, of speaking for the devil. He attacked their opinions in harsh and filthy language that his friend Philip Melanchton described as the "rabies theologorum," or the "rabid fury of the theologians."

Luther's fury was at its worst against the Jews, toward whom he was more violent than any other major Christian theologian. Offended that Jews did not recognize the Old Testament as bearing witness to Christ, he came to see them as liars and blasphemers. He called for Jewish synagogues to be burned and property to be confiscated (fortunately, the German authorities ignored him) and rationalized his views by projecting his own hatred onto his victims.

"Indeed, if the Jews had the power to do to us what we are able to do to them," Luther wrote, "not one of us would live for an hour." Imagine how unsafe Jews must have felt hearing that!

What should we make of all this? That's a central question for Professor Cary, for this course, and for you.

What Do Luther and the Reformation Mean to You Today?

In the last lecture, Professor Cary offers his own assessment of the effects of Luther and the Reformation on the modern and now post-modern world. How have they changed the relationship between religion and public institutions? How have they influenced the value we place on tradition? Can religion offer the certainty that Luther sought? Should it even try? And what can we learn from both the "good" and the "bad" Luther that can help religions argue with one another reasonably, without violence and bloodshed?

Then it's your turn. Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation asks you to evaluate its conclusions and reach conclusions of your own. How do you think Luther fits into the story of Western civilization, and was he in fact good, bad, or a complex combination of both?

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Luther's Gospel
    Luther's Gospel is essentially something all Christians believe: the story of Christ dying for us sinners. What was new and controversial is Luther's doctrine about the Gospel—about how we are changed simply by believing it. Professor Cary tells a parable to illustrate the experience of faith in the Gospel as Luther understood it. x
  • 2
    The Medieval Church—Abuses and Reform
    Clerical abuses, most of which involved money, were prevalent in Luther's time. At its worst, the late medieval church funded itself by claiming authority over individuals' consciences and exploiting their anxieties about the next life. x
  • 3
    The Augustinian Paradigm of Spirituality
    At its best, the medieval church promoted a broadly Augustinian notion of an earthly pilgrimage leading to eternal happiness. But late medieval Christians were tormented by a question that disrupted the pilgrimage: How can I stand before God's judgment? Luther's Gospel addresses this question. x
  • 4
    Young Luther Against Himself
    In his early doctrine of justification, Luther concluded that the way to become truly righteous is to hate oneself and wish to be damned, agreeing with the righteous God who condemns sinners. This promoted an experience of deep terror from which only the Gospel could rescue him. x
  • 5
    Hearing the Gospel
    For the mature Luther, the Gospel includes a divine promise of forgiveness that forbids us from regarding ourselves as God's enemies. In The Freedom of a Christian, Luther described this as a wedding vow that gives us a divine bridegroom, together with all that is his. Unlike Augustine's paradigm, Christ is not just the road we take, but is God coming to us and making himself ours. x
  • 6
    Faith and Works
    Luther distinguishes Law and Gospel: One is God's commandment telling us what to do, the other is His promise of what He does for us. Because salvation comes simply by believing the Gospel, a question arises: What need is there to do good works? Luther answered this in The Freedom of a Christian and in other writings such as his Treatise on Good Works. x
  • 7
    The Meaning of the Sacraments
    For Luther, the Gospel is an external word that gives believers what it promises. Like a sacrament, it is an outward sign that gives the inward gift it signifies. This sacramental concept of the word of God can be found in Luther's earliest treatises on the sacraments, dealing with penance, baptism, and the Eucharist. x
  • 8
    The Indulgence Controversy
    The Reformation began with the indulgence controversy, when Luther posted his famous 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. The controversy exploded when Luther's earliest papal opponent labeled him a heretic because he questioned practices approved by the pope. This turned an academic disputation about the theology of indulgences into a Europe-wide controversy over papal authority. x
  • 9
    The Reformation Goes Public
    Protected by his prince, Frederick "the Wise" of Saxony, Luther developed a program of reformation. His address "To the Christian Nobility" backed the German aristocracy in age-old complaints against the clergy. He was tried as a heretic on German soil at the Diet of Worms in 1521 before the emperor of Germany, not the pope of Rome. The Lutheran Reformation was ever afterwards tied to the protection of the state. x
  • 10
    The Captivity of the Sacraments
    Among the world-changing works Luther published in 1520 is The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In it, Luther criticized the Catholic sacramental system. He recognized baptism and the Lord's Supper (and in a way, penance) as sacraments, but dismissed the rest of the traditional seven sacraments because they did not contain a sign and a divine promise. x
  • 11
    Reformation in Wittenberg
    The Reformation began in Wittenberg, Luther's hometown. This is where he learned to make the reforms work. This is also where his own life was drastically changed when he married an ex-nun named Katherine von Bora. We know a great deal about Luther's home life because his dinner guests often wrote down his table talk. x
  • 12
    The Work of the Reformer
    Luther left an indelible mark on German culture. He translated the Bible into German. He composed catechisms that are still used today. He wrote deeply sensitive letters of spiritual counsel. And he wrote music designed to fill people's hearts with the Gospel, including such famous hymns as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." x
  • 13
    Against the Spirit of Rebellion
    Luther opposed both spirituality and rebellion, which he found often went hand in hand. Although sympathetic to peasant grievances, he was appalled by the Great Peasant War of 1525. In "Against the Robbing and Murdering Horde of the Peasants" he insisted that Christians in good conscience should "stab, smite, and slay" those rebelling against legitimate authority. x
  • 14
    Controversy Over the Lord’s Supper
    The differences between the Lutheran and Reformed wings of the Reformation are best understood by their views on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper. The leader of the Reformed, Huldreich Zwingli of Zurich, argued that the Eucharist symbolized Christ's body, but did not make it really present. Luther found this view literally devilish. x
  • 15
    Controversy Over Infant Baptism
    The Lutheran and Radical wings of the Reformation disagreed, above all, about baptism. Called by their opponents Anabaptists (i.e., rebaptizers) the radicals regarded infant baptism as invalid because infants could not believe, and therefore baptized only adults—even those already baptized as infants. The Anabaptist position forced Luther to explain how infant baptism, which he defended, was compatible with his emphasis on faith alone. x
  • 16
    Grace and Justification
    The doctrine of justification (how one becomes righteous before God) is the most characteristic legacy of the Reformation. Luther's position can be contrasted with both the Catholic doctrine of sanctifying grace and the Reformed emphasis on forensic justification. Luther's large commentary on Paul's letter to the Galatians (1535) is the gold standard on his mature doctrine of justification. x
  • 17
    Luther and the Bible
    Luther initiated the Protestant tradition of emphasizing the literal rather than allegorical sense of Scripture. To read the Bible literally, for Luther, is to find Christ in it. But as early as Calvin, critics wondered if Luther's biblical interpretation was too narrowly focused on the doctrine of justification. Luther's reading of Paul's writings in the New Testament is a test case for this kind of criticism. x
  • 18
    Luther and Erasmus
    Desiderius Erasmus, a contemporary of Luther's, was a famous humanist, renowned scholar, and the leading Christian moralist of his day. Though sympathetic to Luther's criticisms of the Catholic Church, he never joined the Reformation and ended up in a fierce controversy with Luther over the role of free will in salvation. x
  • 19
    Luther and Predestination
    How is it that the lovely notion of grace seems to turn into the horrifying notion of predestination? The deep concept here, as Calvin realized, is the doctrine of election; i.e., of God's choice to be gracious to some undeserving sinners rather than others. Theologian Karl Barth has argued that Augustine, Luther, and Calvin mistakenly made election into bad news, as if it meant some were chosen instead of others, rather than some for the sake of others. x
  • 20
    Luther and Protestantism
    Luther is more "Catholic" than most Protestants. The best way to see this is to clarify the anxieties characteristic of each theology. Catholics worry about mortal sin, Luther worries whether God aims to condemn him, and Calvinists worry whether their faith is true faith. x
  • 21
    Luther and Politics
    Like other Reformation theologians, Luther made a sharp distinction between the powers of church and state, which he described as "two kingdoms." This meant in practice that the Reformation sided with the state in its struggle for power against the church. The Reformation's appeal to the patronage and protection of Protestant rulers led to ongoing religious warfare, but eventually to an ideology of religious toleration. x
  • 22
    Luther and His Enemies
    Luther's abusive language toward his theological opponents is graphic and unforgettable. Did he simply become bitter in old age, or should we take him at his word that his fierceness was not about personalities but about the Gospel? This lecture suggests that only the latter interpretation makes sense of Luther's theological polemics. x
  • 23
    Luther and the Jews
    The most vulnerable targets of Luther's polemics were the Jews. In 1523, in "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew," he argued that Christians should cease persecuting the Jews and be content to argue about Scripture with them. But two decades later, in treatises such as "On the Jews and Their Lies" (1543), he insisted that they were as devilish as his other enemies. x
  • 24
    Luther and Modernity
    The modern era can be traced to the split in Christendom that began with Luther's break from the pope. The Protestant tradition thus stands between the Catholic tradition going back to antiquity and the modern traditions of secularity and liberalism. But Luther's insistence on faith in God's word has much to contribute to Christianity even after modernity. x

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Your professor

Phillip Cary

About Your Professor

Phillip Cary, Ph.D.
Eastern University
Dr. Phillip Cary is Professor of Philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, where he is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Templeton Honors College. After receiving his B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, Professor Cary earned his M.A. in Philosophy and Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Yale University. Professor Cary is a recent winner of the...
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Reviews

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 106.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed the academic presentation of the material. The instructor remains neutral in presenting the Lutheran, Catholic, and Protestant views on various theological issues. Every "class" was interesting and informative!
Date published: 2018-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great presenter I like the course only if he could speak a bit slower . I also think the professor repeats the same thought for a good while. The first 6 lessons could be wrapped up in one or two lessons but overall I can t help liking him, I loved the way he presented his lectures. I am not done yet but it is getting better.
Date published: 2018-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, More to say later!! Excellent, More to say later!! I have not finished all lessons.
Date published: 2018-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Luther, the man, his theology, the times I bought the DVD and am very happy I did. It is not a summary, but a well presented, very extensive erudite study of Luther, the person, his life, his theology, and what was going on around him, including Catholics, other Protestant sects, their beliefs and differences presented in a non-prejudicial manner. The DVDs are well worth the time and the money if you really want to understand.
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from well done lectures I’m only on lecture 5 but so far I’m finding the lectures very interesting and I’m learning a lot about late medieval religious life and Martin Luther’s personal upbringing and how it relates to the doctrines he developed. I am not a religious person myself, but I’m interested in learning how and why others are.
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointing! My wife and I watched three lectures. That's all we could take. The speaker's presentation was needlessly repetitious. This repetition made the video drag on to the point of total boredom. The speaker seemed ill-prepared for the presentation. He kept looking at his notes, which led us to believe his knowledge of the subject is suspect. Maybe he is an expert but you'd never know it based on his on-camera presentation. We'd highly recommend some video-presentation training. We've returned the course and are waiting for a refund.
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sympathetic but Balanced Objective--could be appreciated by someone of any religion. Faces squarely the issue of Luther's late-life anti-Semitism. Author's vast learning gives useful context and fascinating detail. Excellent assessment of a reformer who, despite his faults, helped to establish freedom of conscience, which led ultimately to other freedoms. His impact profoundly shaped Germany especially, fostering mass literacy, the flourishing of music, and the German personality--frugal and hard-working.
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent walk through a complex life Dr Cary does a superb job of describing and analyzing this complex personality and the times in which he lived. More than that, he makes sense of the different phases of Luther's religious development, showing how this development led to often radically different positions. Take for instance his favorable writings concerning the Jews from the 1520s, contrasted with his diatribes against not only Jews, but anyone else who disagreed with him of the 1540s. This course is a must for anyone seriously studying Luther the man or the reformation which he brought about.
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lots of theology I guess I was hoping for more historical facts regarding the logistical and geographic evolution of Luther’s reformation. The detailed theology, with words which weren’t always well-defined (justification being a big one) made it hard to listen to and understand.
Date published: 2018-01-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mostly Good, But Some Problems The Luther course was worth the money to me. It refreshed a lot of my knowledge just in time for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. It was mostly accurate information, well presented. But I didn't care for the pot shots at Luther's sometimes rash words. Especially regarding the Jewish people. This speaker, in my opinion, draws a straight line from Luther to Hitler, and that is irrational and highly prejudicial. It's a cheap shot that is unprovable, thus illogical. I expect better from intelligent people. For the record the major Lutheran bodies of America formally disavowed those statements many decades ago. But some people like to stir the pot.
Date published: 2018-01-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My opinion of Luther changed. I had previously consider him egotistical; now I see him as genuinely concerned but arrogant.
Date published: 2018-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Comprehensive Overview Gives a good explanation of differences between Catholic and Protestant approach to the Gospel and the concept of justified by faith alone.Good presentation. My only criticism is that he is repetitive at times.
Date published: 2017-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Clear presentation, engaging lecturer, fascinating subject. Even if I didn't agree with one of Prof. Cary's conclusions, I found his presentation fair, interesting, and respectful of other opinions.
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from INACCURATE Listening to Prof. Cary's introduction gave me hope that he would give this topic a fair treatment. Quickly it turned to disappointment when he said that the pope could condemn people to 'you know where' (this website screens anything considered profanity and won't accept the word I want to use). The Church has never condemned anyone, has never claimed even to say any particular soul is in 'you know where'. Only God knows the state of the soul at death. Prof. Cary misunderstands mortal sin. It must meet 3 criteria: It must be grave, committed with full knowledge and with deliberate consent. Excommunication is also misunderstood. It too does not condemn anyone to 'you know where.' The intention of an excommunication is just the opposite. It is intended to show the person that he is outside the communion of the Church and that he must turn away from the wrong he is committing and be reconciled. Christ said He came to save, not to condemn. Christ gave us the sacraments to bring us to heaven. It is these sacraments the Church wishes the excommunicated would return to. The Catholic Church does not teach that love of God and meritorious good works must come before Grace. Quite the opposite. God loved us first. His grace gives us the power to return that love and to cooperate with His grace by doing meritorious good works. We don't work for Grace. It is a gift. We also don't earn our salvation by our good works. We are called to love God and neighbor. This is our response to God's free gift of Grace. He gave us free wills so that we would chose to love Him. With free will we also have the choice not to respond to His love and to reject Him. Luther rejected the doctrine of free will. We cooperate with His gift of Salvation by our acts of love. This is biblical. Numerous Scripture references give us commands to do good works, which could all be boiled down to 1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. One example of many is in Mat. 25. Our Lord said to those who did not give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, cloth to the naked, minister to the ill or visit the imprisoned, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Prof. Cary fails to discuss Luther's early life and mental illness. His parents were cruel and unloving. His mother beat him and his father rejected him. It is well known that he was scrupulous, suffered from OCD (Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder), and would probably be diagnosed with bipolar if he lived today. He lived a tortured life thinking he was too wicked and sinful to be loved by God. I can't help but think that much of this came from his family situation. He believed that, even after being saved, he was still 'dung' and that Christ covered him with snow to hide it. The Catholic Church teaches us that we are not dung, but precious children of God who Christ created anew. We can grow in virtue and love and become like Christ, being transformed by Him. Finally, Prof. Cary's commentary on private Confession is so far off track. All the Sacraments are encounters of love with Christ. It's free counseling that the Church offers to help us grow in virtue and love. Jesus heals our wounds and brokenness in this beautiful Sacrament. It certainly did not make Luther go off the rails. I only got into the 2nd CD until I couldn't take any more, which most of you reading this will probably be thankful for, because this post is so long already. If you want to know what the Church teaches, ask Her, not a Protestant! The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great starting place, as well as Catholic Answers and Called to Communion. God bless you in your search!
Date published: 2017-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Review of his life These CDs offer a very clear and entertaining review of the life of this most important man in the history of religion. Well worth the time spent in watching.
Date published: 2017-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Luther This course updates your Lutheran studies. The Reformer was a historical Church founder. Thanks
Date published: 2017-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Really useful and user friendly a great resource to own
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An awesome value for price. As a life long learner and faithful customer of The Great Courses for over 2 decades I found this course to be wonderful. With the 500 year anniversary upon the Church & Luther this course gives clarity as to "what happened" that caused a split with the church of Rome. The church of Rome needs to assess its relationship with Luther and bring Lutherans into full communion with Rome. Luther should have been recognized as another religious community such as the Franciscans and Dominicans. Professor Cary did a awesome job and is a great teacher. Can't we all just get along !!
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course -- leads one think deeply Excellent Course! The material is well presented and balanced in viewpoint. Most importantly, it leads one to think deeply of what is meant by 'faith' and what is the ultimate goal God intends for man.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Appropriate I have completed three sessions and am very satisfied with the course.
Date published: 2017-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent review A very detail review of Luthers life and thinking Love the fact that he tells from the start where the professor stand on issues . His ability to clearly separate fact from opinions, including hisis remarkable
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Take a breath, Dr. Cary! I am 're-listening' to this set for the 4th or 5th time. This approach--spread over a number of years--is typical for me with respect to all of the TGC lecture sets I own (probably around 50, give or take a few). I will most certainly donate the set to my local library once I've finished it. As I have listened, and re-listened over the years, Dr. Cary's delivery and 'preachiness' has become ever more annoying. Granted, the content is certainly there. However the repetitiveness and sidebars get in the way. The course could have benefited from significant editing without diminishing its effectiveness. Responding to commenters who either approve or disapprove of the approach of a given lecturer (too religious/not religious enough): As I have mentioned in other reviews, when considering a purchase of a lecture series with a theology/history of religion emphasis, it is wise to check out the the university with which the lecturer is associated. If it is a secular one, then the emphasis will likely reflect that. If it is associated with a particular faith tradition, then the emphasis will likely reflect (to a greater or lesser extent) reflect that. All that said, I'm giving the set 3 stars/Would Recommend to a Friend (w/caveats) rating.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History,Theology, and Impact of Luther Great in depth look at the life and history of Martin Luther; as well as his theology in the context of Catholicism and other reformers. The professor gave meaningful modern insight that enhanced the history he was covering. Was educational and enjoyable to listen to. Audio format was just fine.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of the life and writings of Luther I really liked this course. I didn't know anything really about medieval Christian thought -- and by providing the historical context about why Luther became a monk, why Luther ultimately broke with the church, how Luther came to marry a former nun, why Luther felt so firmly about communion, etc. -- I feel like I have a better understanding of Protestantism generally. The professor really loves his topic -- he conveys the fact of Luther's remarkable skill as a writer and his transformative influence without neglecting some of the dark side of Luther's philosophy and personality. This course scratches the surface -- it doesn't go into as much detail as I might have liked. I didn't feel that I fully understood all of Luther's arguments with other protestant movements, and the professor really glossed over the history between when Luther went into hiding into how the German princes worked out a deal where each could establish the religion of the land within his own territory. There was limited discussion of what happened at Luther's trial, how Luther got "abducted" and then ensconced in a fortress for years, what was going on with the princes, etc. The discussion of Luther's theology left me with a bunch of questions -- I wish there had been more clarification of Luther's point on Communion. It was a critical difference, but I didn't feel like I understood his position. Some of the lectures (especially at the end) felt like the professor was forced to pick what he was going to cover and leave out -- I think he had to leave a bit too much out, so some of the topics felt a little disjointed with the prior topics (for instance, the lecture on Luther's anti-semitism didn't really flow very well with the other lectures). The course was an introduction. I learned A LOT. My nitpicking with the level of detail aside -- for a beginner, this was great. I hadn't understood how the medieval view of death as a real terrifying struggle against damnation informed their whole existence. I found it really illuminating and even helpful in trying to understand religious extremism in modern day (although that is obviously not what this course is about). The course gave me a lot to think about and I highly recommend it if you are interested in the Reformation, Medieval theology, European history or Luther's theology. The professor can be dry, but he's enthusiastic and that makes the course worth listening to. I didn't read the materials, but listened to it while driving.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from One-fourth through. So far very good My wife and I are reviewing the course together. The first portion focuses on the development of Luther's theology and we have not yet gotten to the discussion on the reformation, which is my primary interest. So far the audio would be fine. There has been no meaningful use of visual material up to this point.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insight What is the role of Human leadership in our atmospheric bubble we call earth? Everybody tries to answer this question, not just critical thinkers like Luther. Thanks, Dr. Cary for allowing me to use Luther eyes.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good informative lectures Have not had a chance to go thru many lessons. The lecturer seems to be fairiy unbaised as he is not a Lutheran. Good info.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding history of Luther and the Reformation I am a Lutheran pastor who is using this as part of a study for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is well done and the class is enjoying it.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Introduction to Luther A great basic course introducing Luther and his times. Lecturers' presentation is good and his development of the flow of lecture content is excellent. Only drawback is his introduction of personal beliefs.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from BORING MUCH TOO BORING. NARRATOR DRONES ON WITH MANY INSIGNIFCANT FACTS. HARDLY ANY GRAPHICS AND COULD USE SOME VIDEO OF AREA OR FACTURAL VIDEO/MOVIE CLIPS.
Date published: 2016-11-26
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