It’s October 31st, 1517. A monk with a temper and 95 theses nails them to the door of a church (Maybe? Or maybe he didn’t actually, but that’s not the point), sparking the Protestant Reformation and forever changing the world. But just who was Martin Luther? What are some of the highlights of his life? What was his marriage like? “The Real Martin Luther” by Josh Hamon answers these questions and many more, some I would never have thought to ask. While reading, I frequently found myself saying, “Wait, what?”, so I search the internet about it to realize it wasn’t a joke. The book is full of humour, but don’t let that deter you from taking it seriously.
I would recommend that anyone beginning to study the Protestant Reformation start with this book. Not only is it genuinely informative, there is never a dull moment. The book engages the reader with facts, keeps them awake with humour, and leaves them with a desire for deeper study into the life and teachings of Martin Luther.
This book is not merely for the beginner though. The seasoned church historian will also benefit from the pages of this wonderful book. History doesn’t have to be humorless. Even if you know every fact, read every work mentioned in the book, there is simply no replacing the uniqueness of “The Real Martin Luther”.
Now, is this book for protestants only? What if I hate Martin Luther? Why should I read this book? Well, it’s up to the individual whether they read it, but the purpose of the Holy Misfits series, to which this book belongs, is to humanize heroes of the faith, showing us their strengths and their weaknesses. It remind us they aren’t perfect and they aren’t all bad either, giving us a thoroughly human person with whom we can relate and empathize.
Hamon presents us with a Luther who is often relatable and at other times a cranky pickle, who is potentially even more relatable in those moments. The illustrator, Brynn James gives us some amazing and memorable artwork such as beer-pong-playing Martin and DJ Luther. Among my favourites is Martin in front of a drawing board that says “Phase one: Collect nuns, phase 2: ???, phase three: awesome” (see “The Real Martin Luther” for context). I laugh just a little every time I see the words “Phase one: Collect nuns”.
Please don’t let the light-hearted nature take away from your desire to read this book. While it is an incredibly fun book to read and I’d recommend it merely for that, it is also very informative and fair to the person of Martin Luther. It isn’t just jokes and no history, it’s a healthy balance of both. So whether you hate Luther, love everything about him, are looking to spark your interest in the reformation, or need to rekindle your love for church history, this book is a must-have for every Christian bookshelf!
Special thanks to Josh Hamon for providing me with an e-copy in exchange for review.