Book Reviews

Book Review: “Martin Luther and the Rule of Faith” by Todd R. Hains

Martin Luther and the Rule of Faith by Todd R. Hains explores Martin Luther’s reading of scripture. It’s a topic that has occupied theologians for hundreds of years, but Hains presents it in a way that allows readers to see Luther’s reading of scripture contextually.

Hains notes Luther’s words against reason and notes how it has been misunderstood. Then, he turns to the questions that arose in reading scripture, including the question of when scripture might be read against itself. This led Luther, Hains argues, to reading scripture in much the same way as others in church history had–reading it as a book of faith that speaks with the power of the Spirit (11).

The rule of faith, however, is to be understood not abstractly but as reading through ancient catechesis- the use of the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. By understanding this as the foundation of Luther’s reading of scripture, the notion of sola scriptura as well as his reading in certain places becomes more evident. Not only does Luther follow the ancient catechesis in his own catechism (57ff), but it also helps illuminate how Luther read the Law (89ff especially). Here, Hains notes, that Luther argued that the Torah would be seen by reason as a “jumble of stories and random laws” while the rule of faith leads to seeing the Torah as books that “teach faith and its fruits” (93).

Martin Luther and the Rule of Faith is an intriguing look at Luther’s reading of scripture. Readers interested in what Luther may have meant by sola scriptura and how he practiced it will find it insightful.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: “Martin Luther and the Rule of Faith” by Todd R. Hains

  1. I have always wanted to learn more about Martin Luther but somehow I never got around to it. That might be partly because of how little media there is covering his life and work. Perhaps all the branches that sprang from his branch of the church would rather not pay homage and risk losing followers? Simple thought, but just thought I would say it anyway.

    Posted by Rohan Jolly | May 1, 2023, 9:32 AM
    • There’s an incredible amount of work covering Luther’s life and work! I have personally read something like 6 different biographies of Luther, and that’s not even beginning to scratch the surface on the number available. This is not to mention a constant stream of books about Luther’s theology, including boiling down individual works of Luther, specific aspects of his theology, and more. I’d be happy to recommend some works if you’re interested.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | May 1, 2023, 10:06 AM

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