Archives For Martin Marty


A Timely Meditation
A Brief Review of 

October 31, 1517:
Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World

Martin Marty

Hardback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
Today marks the 500th anniversary of the date attributed to Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church Wittenberg. Martin Marty, one of the most distinguished scholars of church history over the last century, has written a powerful and timely meditation on the significance of this event. It is, as James Martin, SJ refers to it in his foreword: “a short book on a big topic written by an expert.”

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“Who is Christ for Us Today?

A review of
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters
and Papers from Prison: A Biography

by Martin Marty

Review by Jess Hale.

Martin Marty on Dietrich BonhoefferDietrich Bonheoffer’s
Letters and Papers from Prison:
A Biography

Martin Marty
Hardback: Princeton UP, 2011.
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In a digital age, many fear the practice of letter writing is dying at the hands of the technological innovations of email and Twitter. Not only that but commercial publishers continually offer us celebrity and political memoirs, frequently polished and ghostwritten, that provide us with a superabundance of information about many who have not lived rich or significant lives.  Still a German pastor from a Nazi prison cell in Berlin asks a friend in a letter “who is Christ actually for us today?” (4/30/1944) and a host of readers since then cannot put that book of letters down because the pastor’s words matter to how many of today’s readers answer that question.  Letters, correspondence between two people, can still matter.

Historians still edit occasional volumes of some notable’s literary remains, but those efforts seldom have a wide audience.  Fortunately, Martin Marty, a scholar now retired from the University of Chicago, ably reminds us of the power of private correspondence to provoke substantive debates about important matters – in this case, the place of Christian faith in the world in which we actually live.  Marty has written a book that tells us the story of a book – a quite momentous book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers From Prison (LPP). In telling this story, we learn something of the gripping life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian who died at the hand of the Nazis at the end World War II for his role in the German resistance to Hitler and its failed plot to kill the dictator, but we learn more of the making of a classic that made readers across the globe grapple with the meaning of Christian faith in this world from the prison writings of a condemned pastor.   Marty reminds us that these writings spiritually “served readers everywhere as a testimony to openness, possibility, and hope.” (4)

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“Trust-Building Conversation

A Review of

Building Cultures of Trust.
By Martin Marty.

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

Building Cultures of Trust.
Martin Marty.
Hardback: Eerdmans, 2010.
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[ A longer version of this review is available
on the reviewer’s blog. ]

Martin Marty - BUILDING CULTURES OF TRUSTTrust seems in short supply these days, with the populace seemingly trusting no one including politicians, government, religious institutions, science, corporations, banks or the courts.   But, if trust is in short supply, how then can our society survive, let alone function?   Although a certain degree of suspicion is healthy, lest we allow ourselves to be scammed and defrauded, we’ve moved far beyond healthy skepticism, which makes building cultures of trust difficult.

Martin Marty takes up the challenge of “building cultures of trust” in a  contribution to the Emory University “Studies in Law and Religion” that’s based on lectures given for the Trust Institute at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2008.  Trust starts with the individual, having to do with a person’s character, resolve and ability to change, but as Marty makes clear, it doesn’t stop with the individual.  Trust must involve others, and it evolves in the context of social cultures, which provide for conditions where the task of building trust can occur and even thrive.  It also involves risk, for without risk there is no need to trust.

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