He was an Augustinian monk, transformed by the sovereign grace of God. His newly regenerated heart beat with passion for Jesus. His mind was devoted to the sacred Scripture. This former Roman Catholic turned Protestant rebel was mightily used by God to influence a nation and eventually the whole world for the sake of Christ’s gospel.
But one of the key themes in Luther’s life was the other love of his life, Katherina Von Bora. This fascinating love story emerges in Jody Hedlund’s new book, Luther and Katharina. This work of historical fiction captures the pathos of a woman who left the “safe” confines of the abbey. Safety was a relative term in the 16th century abbey, since the Roman Catholic church was plagued by corruption, heresy, abuse, and sexual sin.
Luther and Katharina underscores the heavy works-based orientation among the faithful. At one point in the story, one of the former nuns asks with chagrin, “Do you ever wonder if we should have stayed?” “What if God is displeased with us? What if He’s punishing us for forsaking our vows?” She continues, “What if we’ve thrown away our best chance at salvation.” Such a sentiment not only characterized the church in the 16th century. It is still a part of the warp and woof of the Roman works-based system.
Additionally, the book captures the tension between genders in a 16th century context. The author does a formidable job of fairly representing a male dominated culture, “without horns and without teeth,” as Luther might say.
Hedlund is a colorful writer, with an ability to turn a phrase and guide the imagination of the reader in the right direction. She demonstrates a good working knowledge of Reformation culture, including the priesthood of believers, cardinal doctrines such as justification by faith, and the repudiation of celibacy.
Luther and Katharina is a terrific historical read designed to awaken a thirst for authentic relationships which are grounded in gospel reality.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.