About 12 years ago, I wrote a little book on Martin Luther. I was asked to do so as part of a series of brief biographies of important leaders. The series wasn’t in wide release, so that volume has been kind of hard to come by. But browsing on Amazon, I see that the book has come back.
A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther follows the prescribed format of listing character traits and leadership principles, in addition to telling his life story. But the main idea of the book develops a point I found in John Carroll’s The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited. He discusses and applies the statement by Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and physicist who formulated the workings of the lever:
“Give me a place to stand and I’ll move the world.” (quoted in Pappus’ Συναγωγή 8.1060: Δός μοι πᾷ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινήσω)
Theoretically, there are no limits to how much weight a person could move with a simple lever. With a lever long enough and a place to stand, a person could indeed move the world. But, of course, there is no place to stand. We cannot stand outside the world in order to move it.
But at the Diet of Worms, when Luther had to account for himself, he invoked not culture, not himself, but the Word of God. “Here I stand.” Luther had a place to stand. And he did move the world.
The book discusses Luther’s impact on the church, but also on the world–on education, the family, the economy, social mobility, government, the arts, etc., etc.–not as in so many Reformation anniversary books today, which downplay Luther’s theology in favor of his cultural influence. Rather, I try to show how these cultural influences grew out of his theology. Specifically, on the impact of the Word of God.
So you might like to read the book, if only as an activity for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.