Monday, September 15, 2014

Life of Luther: With Several Introductory and Concluding Chapters from General Church History by Gustav Just

Church History is a woefully neglected subject. All Christians, but children especially, should be taught their family history between Pentecost and today. It is a particularly modern bane to have such myopic and self-absorbed perspectives. Knowing and honoring your fathers in the faith goes a long way towards curing this disease.

Life of Luther is a slim little hardback volume that was a standard brief Church History appendix or addendum to the Bible History taught in Missouri Synod schools and homes. While not long enough for a year long class, it is an excellent window into Church History for children and their families. It was prepared by Gustav Just, a teacher at Bethlehem Ev. Lutheran School, St. Louis, and was translated into the German by M.S. Sommer and F.W. Herzberger, who are only referred to as "S. and H." Its wide use in the Synod is evidenced by its mention in synodical periodicals and model curricula...and the numerous copies which can be found in Missouri Synod church and home libraries to this day. There are also a plentiful amount of copies to be had for very cheap on Amazon and other sites.

The main focus and weight of the book is placed upon Luther and the Reformation. However, out of the twenty chapters, seven deal with general church history. There is a very brief, yet helpful, 5 chapter review of early and medieval church history that sets the stage for the Reformation. The final two chapters deal with the troubles of the Lutheran Church after the Reformation and the Lutheran Church in America. One can see its influence on later CPH works such as Weidenschilling's "Living with Luther" (1945). While Just's narrative has quite a swift pace, especially outside of the chapters on Luther, he tells a story that flows and fits together.

Need to Get Level: 8/10

This excellent little book is a perfect introduction into church history for a child or a layman who wants to begin studying church history and needs to get a "bird's eye" view to start out. Homeschoolers and teachers in Lutheran parochial schools will be especially interested in this volume. Pastors would also be wise to have this volume on their shelf to aid them in teaching church history in the parish. And who knows?...Maybe even using it as an appendix to Bible History as it was originally intended!

Since it is a 1903 publication, it is in the public domain, and can be found free online at Google Books, Haithi Trust, and Kindle.

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