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Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
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Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  6,454 ratings  ·  366 reviews
"Here is an outstanding modern contribution to religious literature--a vivid portrait of the man who, because of his unshakable faith in his God, helped bring about the Protestant Reformation." ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 1st 1955 by Signet (first published 1950)
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Petra X back to reality & the diet!
It's funny to think that the Protestant religion - today, at least, a moderate and forward-looking religion - is based on the writings of this man, one of the evilest human beings that ever lived. He was also the acknowledged inspiration for the Nazi party which should tell you plenty of his sentiments on race and the value of life. Not only did he advocate violence, including arson and looting, against Jews but was behind the Peasants' War where thousands died. All because he felt that men shou ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: monks and sinners - no diff actually
Recommended to Wayne by: a unit on Reformation History
As a young Catholic monk, I and several other students were sent off to Adelaide University.I chose English and History.
And the first unit of History was the Reformation.
When I came to read about Martin Luther, (I can recall the book, the library, the sunlight AND the dawning that I totally agreed with him), my own Reformation had already begun but now I found I had allies I never expected.
And later when I heard my new mate labelled as "a Wolf in Sheep's clothing" by one of our priests(my forme
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Unquenchable Flame, I had to re-read this biography of Luther. This is regarded as the classic biography on the life of Martin Luther and it certainly holds up to this standard. I appreciate Bainton's effort to be honest about Luther's strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses only help us see better the greatness of the God Luther served instead of glorifying the man. On the other hand stands Luthers prodigious life work which among other things includes a translation of the Sc ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in either general or church history
16th-century German theologian Martin Luther, instigator of the Protestant Reformation, is a pivotal figure in Christian church history, in subsequent German history and culture, and in the history of the modern world as a whole. The larger picture in any of these areas can't really be grasped without understanding his influence. Having been raised in a Lutheran denomination originally founded by German immigrants, I naturally heard plenty about Luther as a child and teen in church (and parochia ...more
To read this book, according to Bainton, you would be led to believe that Martin Luther was quite possibly the most angelic of all men, without fault, judging the Papacy correctly for enriching themselves from indulgences and all the excess of the Roman Catholic Church. And if I didn’t know about Martin Luther’s darker side, I might have been completely pulled in by this hagiographical account of Martin Luther’s life.
I think the scholarship is excellent on Martin Luther’s war on the excesses o
Jack Neary
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a staunch and long-standing RC, I, of course, knew absolutely nothing about Martin Luther beyond the notion that he messed up everything for us back in the 1500's and made way for all those churches where you could still believe in Jesus and not have to get up for Mass on Sunday. I experienced Bainton's book via the Audible route, as I am wont to do these days for a lot of non-fiction, and though the minutiae of a good deal of ML's idiosyncratic takes on religion became, at times, more whelmi ...more
Andrew Huish
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and well-written biography of one of the most influential men in church history. The account of Luther's emergence from within the Roman Catholic Church to become a prominent religious dissenter and champion of justification "sola fide" occupies the majority of this work. This portion of the work almost mandates a second or third reading due to the sheer number of characters which interplay in the complicated ecclesiastical and governmental milieu of Luther's day. The latter portio ...more
A concise and purposeful biography on Martin Luther, the German monk who grew a conscience, could not ignore it, and -- with the courage of God -- changed the history of the world.

Here's my quick review:
Valerie Kyriosity
Simply wonderful. This missing fifth star is an indictment of me, not of Bainton or Luther. The chapters on politics and economics were just brutally dull to my dull mind, and my interest was lost for months on end. As for the rest, I love Luther and I love this recounting of his life and influence. I wish I had better reading habits, especially that of keeping a pen handy to mark and underline, because this volume was replete with gems. We owe so much to Brother Martin, and I was grateful for t ...more
Rick Davis
When I last read this book (sometime between 2000 and 2004 when I was in college), I thought it was good, but I didn't really retain a lot except for the exciting parts (95 theses, Diet of Worms, and all that). This time around I took my time and also took about 40 pages of notes, and I am impressed by what an excellent biography this is. It balances the historical, theological, and political perfectly. It presents Luther with all the praise and credit he deserves but doesn't veer into hagiograp ...more
Luther's medieval life has had major influnces on our modern world, and he is both unfairly praised and maligned frequently, especially when his statements are taken out of context. This even-handed and readable biography was quite helpful in understanding the backdrop of the reformation and the man who became the father of Protestantism. ...more
Nathan Schneider
The greatness of a book is in large part due to its writing. This book was a very well written biography of a very well lived man. Enjoyable to read, Here I Stand is an accessible and enjoyable read on someone that we, as Christians, owe much to.
Czarny Pies
Five Stars. Three for the text plus two for the illustrations.

Here I stand is an extremely charming book published in 1950. In addition to being a professor at Yale, the author is described on the dust jacket as being both a Congregationalist and a Quaker. The intended audience would seem to be the graduates of Yale and the other Ivy League universities of New England who at the time of the publication it could safely be assumed would have been predominantly practising members of some protestant
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in college and loved it then. I always liked crusaders for justice and underdogs, and Luther fit the bill in that regard. He was the right man at the right time; the honest man who called out the Catholic Church on its hypocrisy, and was willing to take the consequences of speaking truth to power. Regardless of what you think of his theology, one has to give him credit for courage.
Demetrius Rogers
It's hard to imagine a historical figure more significant than Luther. This was an excellent biography to gain a familiarity with the man and his times.

I was a bit frustrated with it though. Bainton seemed to try so hard to present an objective narrative that I felt he failed to speak to his reader. I wanted to hear from Bainton. Tell me why, Bainton, I should be reading about Luther. What do you like about him? Is there anything you find unsavory? Yes, as an historian, I should think you'd wan
Chris Hall
A very readable biography that's gives a broad view of the life & ministry of Martin Luther. It's a fun read that's fast-moving and keeps you interested until the end. I would love another biography that provides more depth regarding his teaching, battle with the Roman Church, and inward struggle amidst the Reformation. ...more
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One of the best biographies I've ever read about Martin Luther. I gave it my two thumbs up! Great perspective, good presentention and accurate data about this figure in history. ...more
Max Nova
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review and highlights at

Halloween 2017 is the 500th anniversary of a turning point in Western history. Although few actions have changed the world as much as Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg, it was barely mentioned in my formal education. Bainton's "Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther" filled an important gap in my understanding of the world. Bainton introduced me to the complex issues of religion, politics, and
This book is more than fifty years old but still accessible and full of insight into Martin Luther’s life and times. Early on, it is evident Bainton admires Luther very much – maybe a bit too much to take an honest and well-rounded approach to Luther, the man, in toto. My first significant exposure to Martin Luther was in Will Durant’s volume, “The Reformation”, (From his magnum opus, “The Story of Civilization”) a comprehensive look into the religious and secular conflicts that occurred during ...more
Eric Keel
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic read. Luther's life and convictions are inspiring and hilarious all at the same time. ...more
Bethany Kellam
A fantastic look at the life of one of the greatest reformers.
Nathan Moore
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Briskly paced, exciting read. The scope of Luther's life is staggering. Should he not be considered the most influential figure of the last two millennia? I find it truly fantastic that God used a single man to up-end the religious, economic, social, and even artistic, climates of Europe. What remained untouched?

This is a good read. Though the first Lutheran biography I've read, I'm a little surprised at how highly this work is praised. Many other biographies that I've read are styled and narrat
A brilliant treatment of Luther that doesn't settle for simple caricature, but examines the complexities of this famous man from childhood to death.

What makes this biography stand out is Bainton's dependence on primary source material, as well as his consideration for *context*. We see Luther as a man of medieval, not modern, times. His years long struggle to find peace with God, and then open the door for others to walk through. We see the anxieties of Luther, who lived for years as an exile in
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a nice beginning biography of one of the world's most remarkable men. It is an older book that hails from the early 1950's. It is a really good overview of Luther's life and his encounters with the outside world, especially up till about 1525. It seems aimed at a believing Christian readership. That is, Mr. Bainton, the author, seems to be a believer who appreciates very much Luther's lifetime spiritual struggle and his scriptural resolution of it in the doctrine of justification by fait ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Bainton masterfully weaves together gigantic life of Luther.

"If a German is asked whether a passage of Luther's Bible is not remarkable, he may answer that this is precisely the way in which any German would speak. But the reason is simply that every German has been reared on Luther's version. The influence of the man on is people was deepest in the home. In fact the home was the only sphere of life which the Reformation profoundly affected. Economics went the way of capitalism and politics the
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've not read enough about Luther to make a serious comparison with other biographies, but this seemed pretty solid: readable and scholarly and, while clearly the work of a Christian writer, the author's religion appears to have only minimally affected the text.

There is a tendency to provide long - and often repetitive - extracts of primary sources, as well as to assume the most positive interpretation of Luther's ideas. As a work of 1950 some parts - the assessment of early capitalism, for exam
Though sometimes long in the tooth, this was quite an enjoyable read---if you're interested in the Luther or the Reformation that is.
It contains many quotes from Luther and his contemporaries which help to give the book a sense of relevance. It is packed with useful information, but of course that it is important to remember, that Bainton, like all authors/historians had an agenda.
While he claims to want to show the man behind the myth, he cannot help but perpetuate the myth in his writing. For
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third reading of this book. Roland Bainton was a Lutheran historian, and this is probably the definitive biography of Luther in English. For obvious reasons this book will hold more appeal for Protestants than Catholics; nevertheless, Bainton does not whitewash Luther's faults, particularly towards the end of his life. It is a very good history of the Reformation; each time I read it, I learn or remember something new about that tumultuous period of time. Bainton also explains extreme ...more
Dwayne Smith
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book that was not written for the quick reader. It is a book that sums up the life if the great reformer and how he set the wheels in motion to reform the church. As a Baptist preacher, I appreciate his stand against the evils and arrogance of the Roman Church during this time of corruption. May all of us when approached with the same challenge of standing for Gods Word, "Here I stand, I can do no other." ...more
Philip Mcduffie
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
In the midst of one of Luther's moments of depression and temptation, he said, "He does not know the meaning of hope who was never subject to temptations. David must have been plagued by a very fearful devil. He could not have such profound insights if he had not experienced great assaults." From this quote, we understand the life of Luther. Luther was assaulted and plagued by the spiritual forces evil, but these are, for the most part, the very reason we still glean from his labors. ...more
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ROLAND H. BAINTON (1894-1984), a specialist in Reformation history, was for forty-two years Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale, and he continued writing well into his twenty years of retirement. He wore his scholarship lightly and had a lively, readable style. His most popular book, Here I Stand, sold more than a million copies.

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