Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World

I’m a bit behind on my reviews, so I’m going to keep the next several somewhat brief.

Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World
Directed by David Batty, narrated by Hugh Bonneville, and featuring Padraic Delaney as Martin Luther.
PBS, 2017, 120 minutes

I missed this docu-drama when it aired on PBS back in September as part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, so I recently ordered the DVD. I enjoyed “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World” quite a bit. It’s clear that this was a low-budget production and written with a wide audience in mind, but it surprisingly tells Luther’s story quite accurately, including the reclaiming of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Multiple sound bites from the most powerful Catholic clergyman in America, cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, are included in the first half of the film. Dolan concedes that the Catholic church was exceedingly corrupt at the time of the Reformation and he praises Luther for his zeal. However, he makes sure to point out that some monarchs supported Luther only as part of an effort to usurp territory held by Rome. No debate with that, but leave it to Dolan to draw attention to the temporal sidebars of the Reformation rather than to the spiritual battle of whether man is saved by Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit or by the Biblical Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The film does focus on the moment when the Holy Spirit used Romans 1:17 to enlighten Luther to the Gospel of grace.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

I’m not altogether pleased with the title of this documentary. It infers that the Gospel was Luther’s “idea.” Rather, Luther, along with others, recovered the New Testament Gospel that had been buried under layer upon layer of ecclesiastical ritual, tradition, legalism, and ceremony.

Praise the Lord for Luther and all the Reformers who were used by the Holy Spirit to return the church to the Gospel of grace. I’m definitely going to watch this film again. Order from Amazon here.

Postscript: Catholics should have absolutely zero objections to Martin Luther and the Reformation at this point because their current pope says even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience.

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10 thoughts on “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! Even a brief study of the institutionalization of the church (via Constantine and others) would be enough to convince the objective student of the fallacious notion of Roman Catholicism as the authentic church.

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  1. Wow thank you for this review! I was so busy that I didn’t get to watch the whole thing online on the PBS website before it was taken down. I thought it was surprisingly good from the snippets that I watched, it was beyond my expectation for a PBS series. I was glad to see Carl Trueman speak in the documentary.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL but also : (
        It’s a knee-jerk reflex with me. The first thing I do when I’m not too familiar with a pastor or theologian is google their name plus “Catholicism.” Carl and “First Things” came up right away.

        Liked by 1 person

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