There are reasons why a good deal of received academic opinion should be unfriendly towards Martin Luther.  There is the modest reaction against the judgments of the Victorian age, not least among those who have shed the Protestantism of their fathers.  The virile theological tradition deriving from the Oxford Movement has made great and positive theological contributions to English religion but, from the time of Hurrell Froude onwards, it’s blind spot has been a rigid, narrow, and wooden hostility towards the Reformers and their works.  Then, there is the tradition of the liberal historians, with their wishful preference for a Reformation “along Erasmian lines” which, they consider, might have been but for the violent intervention of Luther and his friends.  To the liberal historians and theologians, aloof from theology and dogma, Martin Luther could hardly be a congenial figure.  The events of our generation have hardly disposed us to a sympathetic judgment of the course of German history, and made only too plausible the arguments of those who derive all our ills from the Reformation, and not a few from the influence of Martin Luther.

The case for the reconsideration of Luther is that all these judgments, good or ill, rest upon an insufficient consideration of facts.  Of the many thousands of Luther’s writings, hardly more than a score have been available in English throughout the greater part of four centuries.  There has been little awareness of the problems and discoveries of modern Luther study which, both in detail and in principle, have been of a quality and intricacy high among historical disciplines, second only, it may be, to that of biblical criticism.

From: The Righteousness of God: Luther Studies: the Birkbeck Lectures in Ecclesiastical History for 1947 by Gordon Rupp (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1953), p. 4.

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