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October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  177 ratings  ·  45 reviews
“This volume is small but weighty and a solid addition for all modern Christianity collections.” —Ray Olson, Booklist

With a foreword by James Martin, this classic reader on the Reformation by Martin Marty answers the question: Why is the Reformation relevant today?

Most importantly, this book is about how the Reformation impacts us devotionally as Christians of any denomi
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Paraclete Press
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Jon Nakapalau
500 years ago a monk challenged the religious power of the Catholic Church. I am always fascinated how some ideas become doctrine; why do some ideas gain followers while other ideas just fall away? This small book does an excellent job of explaining Luther's 95 Thesis (with an appendix of Luther's 95 Thesis). ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
I haven't given a one star review in a long time. Partly why I am doing it is because Dr. Martin Marty really misled people on what this book is about. You ever fall for the 'click bait' article that misleads you into what you are about to read and then after you get halfway through you are like 'why did they put this picture on the cover and why did they name it this?' Well that's what I felt as I read this book. This book took advantage of the fact that it was the 500 year anniversary of the R ...more
Bleh. About a chapter on Luther and a few on Catholic-Lutheran ecumenism in recent decades. Reads like a weekend lecture converted to a book, with the 95 theses tacked on to push the book to 100 pages to justify publishing.
Rick Wolff
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent book by acclaimed author and historian Martin Marty, this brief but focused work contemplates the history, meaning, challenges and impact of Martin Luther's 95 Theses. It provides a reflection on repentance (a central idea in the theses) and the role it has played, in various expressions, among religions and in the world since Luther. It is poetically written, and Marty elegantly weaves its themes and ideas, making this book as enjoyable as it is thought-provoking. "October 31, 1517 ...more
Jeff Crosby
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What insight esteemed University of Chicago professor and church historian Martin E. Marty packs into less than 100 pages of text as he considers the events of 500 years ago and the implications for ecumenical dialogue over the past several decades and in the years to come. A wonderfully rich, insightful, helpful resource. Highly recommended.
Phil Schneider
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Repetitive and dull. The actual content of the book has little to do with the title. I was looking for a brief history of Luther, but what I got was a discussion of Lutheran and Catholic reconciliation.
Amanda Rogozinski
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book's perspective was unique and valuable. Whereas other books on the topic of the Reformation focus on glorifying Luther and the reforms he sparked, Marty talks in an unbiased way about Luther's influence. He celebrates the unity that has come in recent times between Catholics and Lutherans and focuses on bringing more understanding between these two branches of Christianity. While this book honors what Luther stood for, it primarily gets to the heart of Luther's main exhortatio ...more
Juliann Cerrito
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest and monk. On October 31, 1517, Luther promulgated his 95 Theses. Martin Marty, a renown writer of Christian history gives us an amazing, detailed recounting of the day that changed the world. Most of us reading this book had perhaps thirty minute lecture on this topic back in This book brings that lecture to life in eleven chapters. I highly recommend it for those closely examining the split off from Christianity.
David Steele
Disappointing -- a missed opportunity.
Rob Chappell
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As we remember the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, many questions come to mind. What caused the split in Western Christendom 500 years ago? How did this "family quarrel" get far worse in the following centuries, and what has led to a phenomenal improvement in Roman Catholic-Lutheran relations since Vatican II? What areas of agreement do Lutherans and Roman Catholics hold in common -- and where does more work need to be done?

Dr. Marty, in this small but powerful book, reviews all
C.S. Areson
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book wasn't what I expected. It took the idea of repentance and hit everyone on how we have done a poor job doing it in the past and how the ecumenical movement is doing it now. It even questioned its own title suggesting that this wasn't a day that changed the world and maybe Luther was a little crazy. I didn't give it one star because it did have some decent material even if it didn't fit what it was selling by the cover. ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Marty is a good writer, enjoyable to read. It's an attractive little volume as well. But I found no spiritual kinship with him as he attempted to use Luther and specifically a supposed fidelity to the first of his famous 95 Theses as a basis for a call to reconciliation of Catholics and Protestants. While I certainly do not believe the 95 Theses were written by the great reformer (they were written rather by a troubled but devoted Catholic monk), his legacy as a reformer is a recovery of the Gos ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: faith, nonfiction
The forward and first few chapters were stimulating and insightful, but the rest was dense and seemed aimed at theologians rather than lay readers. still, with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaching, this slim book (more of a long essay) provided some interesting background on the impact of Luther's actions in 1517 and how he, without intending to, changed the world. ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I like Martin Marty a lot and I read his earlier biography of Martin Luther . I was expecting this to be a similar historical account. It wasn't. Martin Luther's nailing the 95 theses to the door, is a reference point for discussing ecumenical dialogue between Protestants and Catholics 500 years later. Still some helpful and insightful stuff here, Marty offers good analysis; however if you are expecting church history this book offers only a superficial analysis on the original event (except for ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was really hoping this would be a piece written about The Day of the Theses, but it's not. I even read the other reviews that said it wasn't about the day! But I forged ahead anyways, excited about this Lutheran anniversary. He's my man! He's the guy who made a list of complaints (I love lists!) and angrily nailed it on the door of his dumbass neighbors. And got people talking about it! And CHANGED how people interacted with God. And reinvigorated their relationship with God.

This is a loose c
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
As other reviewers have noted, this is not a book about Luther, the story behind the 95 Theses, or the Reformation. This is really a book about the rifts between Catholics and Lutherans. It's pretty good and I would not have picked it up if it were accurately titled The Doctrine of Repentance as a Stumbling Bock in Ecumenicism. But it was interesting, especially about how what seem to be arcane and esoteric sticking points of doctrine trickle down to practitioners. It can also be read in a singl ...more
Lisa Mooney
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was expecting a more historical/biographical look at Luther and the events of the time surrounding the posting of the 95 Theses. This is more a theology study. Also focused a lot on the modern Christian church and moves toward reconciliation now 500 years after the start of the Reformation. It got a little heavy at times.
Liked the writing style and I'm sure Reformation scholars and theologians can get a lot out of it. It just wasn't what I was expecting.
David Pate
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
An unimpassioned lecture and a half-hearted review.

I was extremely disappointed by this book. It did not address much of the actual history of the date in the title. It addressed, ironically, the more obscure consequences of The Reformation. At first, I felt the book may be written to staunch Lutherans and Catholics as opposed to a casual reader looking into that background of this year's quincentenary, but as I read on to the end, it appeared more clearly that perhaps the author under valued t
“Of course, the Catholics also believed in grace and faith. But they disagreed on how grace and faith were effected and experienced and what part the church to which they all belonged was to play.”

I put this book on my to-read shelf back in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther started a revolution. I am sure that when I saw that Marty wrote a book about the Reformation, I thought it would be worth reading. I was right, but for the wrong reasons.

Marty is a good writer, great
Evve Kuykendall
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is very short—around 90 pages. One might assume it is about Luther, his life, and the Reformation writ large. Disappointingly not the case. The book deals more with the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church leading up to its current state of affairs. While the tenants that led to the Reformation are tangentially discussed as it relates to the current relationship between the two churches, it isn’t very through and barely spends any time on the actual Reformat ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this -- I like the idea, a very short book (114 pages), written by an expert about a specific subject.
But the author didn't seem to have a clear idea what he was writing ABOUT -- repentance seemed to be the big theme, also the efforts made by Catholic and Lutheran churches recently for ecumenical rapport. Didn't really seem to be about the 95 theses. Also very wordy; editing could have helped with word choice.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Based on the title I expected to read a historic account of 10/31/1517. That's not what this is. It's a reflection on the theological issues behind Luther's 95 thesis and the affects on Lutheran and Catholic relations post Vatican 2. It read more like a didactic sermon than the work of a historian. ...more
Brady Jones
Nov 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Know what you’re in for before you dig into this...

I was expecting a history of Luther and his 95 theses, and instead I got a short book about some bureaucratic reconciliations between the Catholic and Lutheran churches in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1999.

This is most certainly NOT a history book for the laity/common people. The most interesting part was the reprinted 95 theses at the end. 🤷🏻‍♂️
Worth a read in this year that is the 500th anniversary of Luther and his 95 Theses. The primary theme is repentance -- and how Luther's view compares with the thinking of modern Lutherans and Catholics. The book includes a complete copy of the 95 Theses. ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Terrible. Basically an apologetic for ecumenicalism between Catholics and Lutherans under the guise of “repentance.” The Catholics have never repented and any Lutherans who accept the Joint Declaration of 1999 need to repent, for the preach a false gospel.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
More space should have been provided to discuss important points that are treated in passing.
Jason T Brumbach
Oct 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Essentially, this is a call for reformed Christians to repent of the Reformation. Martin Luther would have some choice words for Mr. Marty
Don Russell
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not a good biography of Martin Luther
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Important and interesting. The 95 Theses are at the back. Start by reading them.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Meh. Not really what the title would seem to indicate. Ok for what it is; terrible for what it would seem to be.
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Martin Emil Marty is an American Lutheran religious scholar who has written extensively on 19th century and 20th century American religion. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1956, and served as a Lutheran pastor from 1952 to 1962 in the suburbs of Chicago. From 1963 to 1998 he taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School, held an endowed chair, and now holds emeritus sta ...more

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“Getting closer to home, is it a fully satisfying repentance if we only deal with the past, which cannot be changed? “Alas, what did I do?” I don’t think so. Believers get closer to repentance instead by asking, “Alas, what kind of person was I that I could do that?” 0 likes
“Of course, the Catholics also believed in grace and faith. But they disagreed on how grace and faith were effected and experienced and what part the church to which they all belonged was to play.” 0 likes
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