This current blog series on Reflections is intended to encourage Christians to read more vigorously by providing a beginner’s guide to some of the Christian classics in theology, philosophy, and apologetics. My hope is that these brief introductions to important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers to, as St. Augustine put it, “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.

Martin LutherThis week’s book, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Christian historian Roland H. Bainton, is a classic biography on one of the most important figures in Christendom. October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which German monk and theologian Martin Luther ignited. Bainton’s work is, in my opinion, the very best Luther biography available in English and is widely considered one of the great biographies of all time about a Christian leader.

Why Is This Author Notable?

Bainton (1894–1984) was born in England and came to the United States as a young boy. He was a church historian who specialized in the history of the Protestant Reformation. Bainton taught at Yale University for more than 40 years and authored more than 30 books. His work The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century is widely used as a college textbook on the topic.

What Is This Book About?

To truly be a Protestant Christian I think one must come to appreciate the life, spirit, and beliefs of Martin Luther. Written in 1950, Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther is the definitive introduction to the great German Reformer and examines Luther’s life and times in an insightful and appealing way.

Throughout the book’s 22 chapters, Bainton reveals, in a clear and readable style, the man Luther and traces the key events of his amazing life. Bainton first explores Luther’s life as a monk in the monastery where he tried desperately to fulfill God’s moral commands for his life. He then covers Luther’s biblical discovery of the doctrine of justification by faith and his subsequent challenge to Roman Catholic doctrine and practice. Finally Bainton discusses Luther’s establishment of Protestantism as a distinct third branch of Christendom. A unique feature of the book is that it is vividly illustrated with the use of more than 100 woodcuts and engravings adopted from Luther’s own time period.

Bainton here records Luther’s dramatic words at the Diet of Worms when he is asked by a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical official if he repudiates his books and doctrinal errors:

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.1

Why Is This Book Worth Reading?

Christians need to know their history. And the best book to read about the towering historical figure of Martin Luther is Bainton’s outstanding biography. I wish every church official (patriarch, pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, minister) and every layperson in all of Christendom—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—would read and reflect upon this remarkable historical biography.


  1. Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York: Meridian, 1995), 144.

Check out more from Kenenth Samples


About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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