On this day in 1483, Martin Luther was born. Luther has been one of my favorite people from church history since I was in middle school. I read Roland Bainton's biography of Luther & read the he taunted Satan when the devil would come & tempt him at night saying things like "If you remind me of my sins, I can name 100's more that you failed to mention", & "Oh St. Satan, I know that I could never live up to your standard of perfection, so just leave me be!" Statements like that just drew me to him.
Most of us are well aware of his famous run-in with Tetzel & eventually the Pope leading him to finally claim, ÂMy conscience is captive to the Word of God . . . Here I stand, I can do no otherÂ, but he was a prolific writer - both books & hymns including his 95 Theses. He translated the Bible into the language of German so common people could have a Bible of their own & not feel dependent on clergy. There is a 55 volume set of his complete writings (also available on CD-ROM). A book of his I would highly recommend to get you started in his thought is Faith & Freedom. It is subtitled An Invitation to the Writings of Martin Luther. This will give you a taste of his life, his exposition on both Testaments as well as his table talk & letters. If you would like to go deeper, I would recommend his Basic Theological Writings.
To get a glimpse at Luther's life, I definitely recommend the recent movie, Luther. This film gives a basic overview of his life & I found it fascinating. When it released in theaters, they skipped my area in Northern California, so I had to wait until they released it on DVD. Well worth the wait. The film does not place Luther up on pedestalal, but gives an accurate portrayal of the man & his life & struggles. Another good recent resource is John Piper's book The Legacy of Sovereign Joy in which Piper writes about God's grace triumphing in the lives of Luther, Calvin & Augustine.
If you are a fan of Luther & have a sense of humor, I would highly recommend the Luther Bobblehead. I bought one of these for my dad & myself a few years ago & he cracks me up. I also have a small bust of Pope John Paul II my best friend bought for me in Italy a bunch of years ago & I am fairly confident they have it out in my cube at night.
Luther has always been my favorite reformer. I find him to be such a real, work-in-progress believer who loved God & was real. His hymns still draw me closer to God & hifeistyty spirit is needed from time to time. Let's celebrate by nailing stuff to our church doors! (OK, maybe not).
If you would like even more history & information on Luther, I suggest his Wikipedia article here.