How Has Studying Martin Luther Encouraged You? In this video, Stephen Nichols shares how the study of Martin Luther has encouraged him.
You know, I’d have to say the most encouraging thing for me about studying Martin Luther is just the full dimension of his life. You know, so often these historical figures come to us almost as if they’re simply encyclopedia entries. You know, we see the bare facts as it were of their life. Well, Luther just absolutely defies that. He almost jumps off the page at you as just this full-dimensional, full-bodied figure. We see Luther experiencing intense times of depression. We see this when his daughter dies. You know, here’s his daughter who he called, “my Lenchen.” This is his twelve-year-old daughter Magdalena. And she was hit with a serious illness, she did not recover from it, and she died. And Luther and Katie had to bury her. And Luther goes into a time of two weeks of depression, just locked himself in his room and just suffered terribly her loss.
You see him also though in times of great joy. Now, he also had this depth of pleasure and happiness and expression of great joy. And so, you come to Luther and you really get a whole person and you see it. We’ve got this other piece for Luther that a lot of other church history figures don’t have, this body of literature we refer to as the Table Talk. And, of course, we like that so much at Ligonier, we gave that name to our little magazine. But this was Luther around the dinner table with his family, with his students, with the visiting dignitaries who would come to Wittenberg and he would just be talking. And, after a while, his students thought, well, we need to be writing this stuff down. And even the family dog, Tölpel was the family dog at one point, which I think is sort of a German word for “tipsy.”
And you get the impression of this little puppy, you know, whose legs are sort of too big for it and it’s sort of teetering around. And so, Luther calls the dog Tölpel. Even the family dog makes its way into these table talks.
So, what we see in Luther is unique among church history figures. We see him just full of life, and we see him engaging life. And what we see is a theology working itself out in life. And we just don’t see that with many of our other heroes from church history. I have to say, hands down, that’s the main reason, that’s one of the main things that I always come away from Luther. And also one of the reasons why I consistently find myself wanting to go back to Luther and spend more time with him.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 7, 2019.