Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton: A Review

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The content of this paper is a review of the book on the life of Martin Luther written by Roland H. Bainton entitled Here I Stand. Bainton describes the life of this humble Augustinian monk who revolutionized religion unintentionally. In his text, Bainton provides a vivid portrayal of the historical settings, supporting characters, and the events that shaped the Reformation movement of the sixteenth century. As a biographer, he does not create a character that is flawless or larger than life; rather, he accurately portrays a man that changed the world in the midst of self-doubt and inner struggles within his own spiritual and personal life. Bainton quotes Luther, “Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” Luther’s reformation works began as an innocent objection to the evils as he perceived them in the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy when he nailed those objections; the now infamous Ninety-Five Thesis, to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. The resultant fervor propelled this monumental figure to the forefront of what would become known as the Reformation. Bainton paints the life and times of Luther vividly as being complex, tumultuous, and at times even transitioning from horror to humor. The first part of the book deals with Luther’s days as a university student turned monk after his encounter with a bolt of lightning. Bainton chronologically weaves a tapestry of Luther’s personal crisis of faith, his tormented bouts of depression and psychotic taunts with demonic forces. The latter half of the book is devoted to the development of his theology that ultimately leads him to break from Rome. Bainton states of Luther, “A loyal son of the Catholic Church, he was later to shatter the structure of medieval Catholicism. A devoted servant of the pope, he was later to identify the popes with Antichrist.” The process that led to...
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