In October 2016, in Lund, Sweden, Pope Francis met with Lutheran church leaders to inaugurate a year of commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517, the first salvo in his rebellion against the Catholic Church. What was the nature of that revolution of half a millennium ago? Upon what new trajectory did it launch human history? What were its hidden consequences? And why does Pope Francis’s proposed rapprochement of Catholic and Lutheran churches matter?
In the twelve essays contained in this volume—based upon lectures delivered at the 2016 Roman Forum Summer Symposium on Lake Garda, Italy—the authors assess the impact of Luther’s novel theological and philosophical doctrines on faith, political theory, law, ethics, economics, and science—as well as his role in the devastation of Christendom and the creation in its place of the contemporary secular culture of the West. Acknowledging that the Reformation is not “the sole cause of the social problems of modernity” but rather “one major cause in a chain of causes,” the authors nevertheless make it abundantly clear that there is “nothing about Luther and his Protestant rebellion that we should celebrate.” With essays from John Rao, Chris Ferrara, Brian McCall, and eight others, Luther and His Progeny is a signal contribution toward understanding the full import of the Protestant revolt.