Edited by Timothy J. Wengert. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing
Company, 2004. 260 pp.
 This impressive collection of essays by leading Lutheran
theologians and Reformation historians represents the
state-of-the-art in current Luther scholarship. Originally
published in Lutheran Quarterly these essays now appear
under a single title in Eerdmans' new and promising series,
Lutheran Quarterly Books. Organized under three headings,
the Catechetical Luther, Luther and God's World, and Luther and
Christ's Church, thirteen essays explore a variety of themes in the
Reformer's writings with an eye toward the ongoing significance of
these topics for Christian faith and life. Ethicists will find
several (Kolb, Schwanke, Froehlich, Lindberg, Rieth, and Hendrix)
of the entries especially useful not only for a historical
understanding of Luther but also their effort to let him address
contemporary issues. In this way the volume serves as a fine
supplement to the more general introduction to Luther's ethics
found in work of Althaus, Forell, and Lazareth.
 Mark Tranvik contributes an essay on "Luther on Baptism"
demonstrating Luther's reformation of baptism from a sacrament of
initiation to a sacrament of perpetual significance for the
Christian life. "Luther on the Two Kinds of Righteousness" is the
title of Robert Kolb's chapter. Kolb sees this distinction as
crucial for Luther's overall approach to theology and ethics as it
reflects both the horizontal and vertical dimensions of human life.
Hence, the conceptual framework of the two governments cannot be
understood apart from Luther's grasp of two ways of being
righteous- one before God and the other before the neighbor.
Dietrich Korsch uses Luther's seal as a template for the
hermeneutic of his doctrine in "Luther's Seal as an Elementary
Interpretation of His Theology." Johannes Schwanke examines
Luther's confession of creation on the basis of the Genesis
lecturers. There is much here that will enrich the pastor's
catechesis of the First Article and strengthen the articulation of
a Lutheran response to postmodern claims of autonomy.
Schwanke demonstrates how Luther's confession that God "has made me
along with all creatures" (Small Catechism) will not allow us to
"condone the view that human sympathies and personal preferences
should qualify the promise of creation. If the divine address and
exhortation to life apply to humanity, as Luther says, 'independent
of my merit and worth,' then one cannot apply self-serving criteria
of personal history or merit particularly in the case of the
physically handicapped or those with Alzheimer's disease. The
unassailable worth of each individual applies unconditionally to
all human persons. This worth is unmerited, and therefore cannot be
lost" (97). Gerhard Sauter shows how Luther provides an
eschatological answer to Anfechtung in his chapter "Luther
on the Resurrection" that rounds out the "Catechetical Luther."
 "Luther and God's World" begins with Karl Froehlich's
"Luther on Vocation" was originally a lecture given to seminary
students as he uses Luther to raise questions of pastoral identity
and formation in the broader context of the Christian calling in
the world. Carter Lindberg examines Luther's understanding of
poverty; both its cause and appropriate solutions in "Luther on
Poverty." Lindberg describes the worldly character of Luther's
ethic: "For Luther social ethics, good works, are not salvatory,
but they do serve the neighbor. Since works are not ultimate but
penultimate activities of the sinner saved by the justifying God,
they are this-worldly rather than other-worldly; directed to the
neighbor rather than to God. Works are a response to God's promise;
a response that flows from faith active in love; from worship. Thus
Luther's social ethics are aptly described by the phrase 'the
liturgy after the liturgy'." (138). Ricardo Willy Rieth
demonstrates that Luther attacks greed from the perspective of the
first commandment in "Luther on Greed." Scott Hendrix writes on
"Luther and Marriage" demonstrating the Reformer both demoted as a
sacrament and elevated marriage as a vocation -the arena for both
faith and love. Gregory Miller examines Luther's understanding of
Isalm as a historical, political and eschatological reality in
"Luther on the Turks and Isalm."
 The final section, "Luther and Christ's Church" offers three
essays. Helmar Junghans traces the development and implications of
Luther's liturgical proposals in "Luther on the Reform of Worship."
Carl Axel Aurelius offers an introduction to Luther's evangelical
use of the Psalms for lament and praise in "Luther on the Psalter."
Another essay by Scott Hendrix, "Martin Luther's Reformation of
Spirituality" notes Luther's continuity and discontinuity with the
medieval tradition. Hendrix describes Luther's spirituality as a
"guestly spirituality" as Luther understands the life of the
Christian lived in a world where God is the host and we are on the
receiving end of divine generosity in creation and redemption.
 The concluding words of veteran Reformation scholar, David
Steinmetz's foreword to Harvesting Martin Luther's Reflections
on Theology, Ethics, and the Church aptly describe the value
of this book: "Their work is a gift to Luther research and an
important aid for the general reader who wants a reliable guide to
Luther, a figure who has an undiminished capacity after nearly five
hundred years to surprise and instruct us" (xi). This anthology
will enhance the understanding and usefulness of Luther both for
laity and clergy. The essays are thoroughly researched and clearly
written making this volume an accessible tool for those interested
in probing the promise of Luther's theological legacy for church
life and ethics.
Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE)
Volume 5, Issue 4