Our church is doing a three week study on Martin Luther. We are being taught by a professor from Trinity Evangelical Seminary. Luther’s Table Talks was a great topic to discuss in this class, and particularly important to me. As they come from his discussions with boarders who lived in his house for a time, it has the feel of a mentor and his protégé, or protégés as the case is here. I've really enjoyed reading them. The translation to English is pretty good, despite how long ago it was done.
Here are both some examples of the writing and an overall feel.
First, I give three examples of his discourses:
• LXIV: The idea that the world feels that many things are accomplished haphazardly has not changed in the 500 years since Luther. It continues to stumble along all the while God is actually in charge and directing the events of the world.
• LXV: The idea of the Trinity boggles the mind of unbelievers (and many Christians to be honest). Luther hits on this point by suggesting that the cost is too high. I concur with his thought. People who I believed were in the faith have given up. It's not just the idea of a Trinity of course, but the result is the same…the cost is too high. This is the sort of discussion that I can see a wise mentor having with several protégés. It's the kind of discussion I am known to have with those I teach in Bible studies and mentoring relationships in the Navy.
• CXXIV: This is a particularly strong example of what I mean above. A wise older man has a group of younger men sitting around with him and he starts talking, probably while slowly drinking some coffee or tea or beer (it's Germany after all). He pauses to say, “Comets are bastards…” and then, as he has everyone's attention, he continues to make his point.
In the introduction, Captain Bell describes “bewailing and lamentation,” which is seen in many of the table talk topics, including the three I mentioned above. This book is filled with them, from the mind of a wise game-changer to those he would pass on the torch to.
Dr. John Aurifaber’s preface speaks of the ills that the Catholic Pope promoted, signifying the reason that Luther had to stand up and fight. It is an important reminder to all Protestants that our history is one of sacrifice and hope. God has been with us from the beginning. Martin Luther made choices that were much needed at the time even though those choices cost him much in return. DCLXXXIV seems to suggest this struggle. While the goose is attacked by the forces of evil and of those who would persecute it, God nevertheless preserves it, as he did Martin Luther.
In all, the writing is a bit hodge-podge in its approach, which is both unfortunate and fortunate at the same time; the former because it makes finding a particular idea moderately difficult and the latter because it shows the style of his teaching, and the way of learning for those sitting under him. His thoughts are almost always dead on. It is a good and important read for modern believers, particularly as we owe so much to this man.