Fortress Press

Luther Refracted: The Reformer's Ecumenical Legacy

Luther Refracted

The Reformer's Ecumenical Legacy

Piotr J. Malysz (Editor), Derek R. Nelson (Editor)


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Luther Refracted speaks to the currency that Luther’s life and thought continue to enjoy in today’s Christian reflection. The contributors, representing a variety of Christian denominations, demonstrate Luther’s lasting impact on their own traditions and, together with the Lutheran respondents, encourage a fresh understanding of the Reformer. In their at times vigorous engagement, Luther’s legacy comes to light not only as variously received but also as contradicted, and transformed, only to reemerge as a fruitful leaven for further thought and transformation. All the essays presented here witness to Luther’s significance as a formidable doctor ecclesiae, a teacher of the church.

Contributors include:

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Matthew Myer Boulton, Christian Theological Seminary
Brian C. Brewer, Baylor University
Anna Case-Winters, McCormick Theological Seminary
Paul R. Hinlicky, Roanoke College
Matt Jenson, Biola University
Piotr J. Małysz, Beeson Divinity School
Ian A. McFarland, University of Cambridge
Derek R. Nelson, Wabash College
Ted Peters, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
David Tracy, Emeritus, University of Chicago Divinity School
Jared Wicks, SJ, Pontifical College Josephinum
Susan K. Wood, SCL, Marquette University
Johannes Zachhuber, University of Oxford
Randall C. Zachman, University of Notre Dame


  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451490381
  • eBook ISBN 9781506401478
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 366
  • Publication Date December 15, 2015


Review on Lutheran Theology



"'Martin Luther is one of those rare Christian theologians who belong to all Christian theology.' With these perceptive words David Tracy concludes his contribution to this remarkable volume on Luther's theology. Malysz and Nelson have assembled contributions of established authors hailing from various denominations who make two points clear: Luther's theology continues to influence and stimulate the whole of Christendom. Though Luther was neither infallible nor a saint, his theological insights provide valuable resources across denominational lines. This book needs to be studied for the benefit of the open-minded reader."

Hans Schwarz | emeritus, University of Regensburg

"In this book, world class theologians move beyond dialogue designed for developing churchly position statements effectuating ecumenical rapprochement.  Instead, by means of unguarded and critical engagement with Luther, essayists from a variety of confessional heritages address topics of perennial relevance, such as community, universal priesthood, ministry, faith, divine hiddenness, and the sacraments, and allow a new Luther and a new ecumenism to emerge. From the questions posed to Luther as well as the challenges that Luther poses to us we can foresee a thawing of the current ecumenical winter and the warming of a renewed theological collaboration across confessional lines."

Mark Mattes | Grand View University

"This symposium contributes to the emerging ecumenical consensus that Luther's theology can be a rich resource for all Christian churches and denominations. An aspect of this consensus is that Luther's followers have often diminished his greatness by practicing the art of selective reductionism to prove the superiority of their particular brand of Lutheranism. The pietists reconstructed Luther after their own image and the orthodox did the same. With hindsight we Lutherans must grudgingly admit that Luther was never a good Lutheran, judged by the criteria applied by the various denominations that bear his name."

Carl E. Braaten | emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

"The essays in Luther Refracted free Luther from captivity to confessionalist or modernist agendas and engage him in lively contemporary ecumenical-theological conversation. A valuable stimulus for anyone interested in the continuing vitality of Luther's theological legacy."

David S. Yeago | North American Lutheran Seminary and Trinity School for Ministry

"Martin Luther is a more polyphonic and full-bodied theological figure than ecumenists usually assume. This volume discovers a variety of ways in which the Reformation contributes to the unity of the church. In our multicultural modernity, ecumenism needs the rich powers of theological imagery and imagination present in Luther."

Risto Saarinen | University of Helsinki

"In this important new work, editors Małysz and Nelson daringly hand over the richest treasure in the Lutheran tradition, Martin Luther himself, to a wide range of generous and vigorously engaged ecumenical conversation partners: Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, and more. They do not, in other words, tell their ecumenical partners what their Martin Luther has to say but instead listen with patience to a varying series of answers to the question how those partners hear Luther's voice. The result is a Luther ready and able to surprise, and just so to contribute, to theology today, a Luther who provokes a constructive pan-Christian conversation that beckons the divided churches beyond mere convergence, toward listening and learning together. In short, these essays model a new kind of ecumenical engagement that invites diverse Christian readers to share the task of understanding anew their divided traditions, in the hope that they will be led toward the unity that only Spirit can give. An exciting venture!"

Mickey Mattox | Marquette University