Early in 2016, my friend Stephen McCaskell asked if I’d be interested in working on a new project with him: a documentary about Martin Luther. My first reaction? “I have no idea what to do him.” For weeks, I tried to figure out how to approach telling the story of the controversial German Reformer. And it was sitting with the controversial aspects of the man that made me realize that that is what makes his story beautiful. What makes his story worth sharing. Recently, I wrote about this tension and the beauty of the truth of Luther for Patrol. Here’s a brief excerpt:
It’s tempting to ignore the more unsavory aspects of Luther, the man. To focus only on the great Reformer and all the powerful ways God used him, and offer (at most) a quick but ultimately dismissive acknowledgement of unpleasant things he said and did. To gloss over the inconvenient truths. At the same time, there’s the opposite temptation: to vilify the man and only focus on the horrible or embarrassing moments. We want to see him either as a hero or heretic. As brilliant or a buffoon. But to present either is to present a fictional Luther; a caricature that bears a passing resemblance but is, ultimately, empty.
That’s what I realized as I waded through a sea of biographies, articles and essays, trying to make sense of this man. For me to honor Luther, to tell his story honestly, I needed to embrace this tension. To strip away all the mystique we’ve built up around him, and get to the heart of Luther as he really was: a normal, frail, fallen, sinful human being who was used extraordinarily by a gracious God.
LUTHER: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer releases April 21. Order your copy today.