Christ Alone & Catholic Sacramental Theology: A Reformation Response
In order to understand the nature of the Reformers’ disagreement with Rome, you have to understand the nature of two intertwining ideas that anchor Catholic sacramental theology: the “nature-grace interdependence” and the “Christ-Church interconnection.”
Stephen Wellum traces the contours of this main point of disagreement and the Reformers’ response in his new book Christ Alone—The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior. In it, he explores what the Reformers taught about the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ—and why it still matters.
For the Reformers, solus Christus entails the confession of Christ’s exclusive identity and his perfect, complete, and all-sufficient work as our covenant head and mediator (258).
Below, we’ve briefly outlined Wellum’s engagement with these ideas to help you understand the Reformers’ solus Christus response to…
Grace Is Profoundly Existential, Beginning With the Church
“Grace is a profoundly existential matter” (157).
That’s the verdict in Carl Trueman’s new book Grace Alone, a tour de force through the biblical, historical, and existential conversations surrounding salvation as a gift of God. How is grace existential?
[Grace] does not simply explain how the Creator and his fallen creatures are brought back into communion with each other… Grace should hold us in its grip in such a way that our whole being is affected. That which brings us from being under God’s wrath to being his beloved children is surely something that we cannot contemplate in a dispassionate manner. (157)
This is why Trueman culminates his book with an extended conversation on the means of grace through the church, preaching, the…
How You Can Translate Mark 1–4 On Your Own
A few weeks ago we introduced you to an approach to reading biblical Greek that Mark Strauss calls “interesting and innovative.”
Reading Biblical Greek, conceived of and designed by Richard J. Gibson and Constantine R. Campbell, introduces first-year Greek students to the essential information needed to optimize their grasp of the fundamentals of the Greek language.
The goal of their approach is “to equip students to read the text of Mark’s Gospel as soon as practicable.” (vii) They succeed in part because their grammar is paired with an equally innovative companion workbook.
This supplemental workbook is designed to help students navigate their way through translating Mark 1–4, all on their own, by breaking up the Greek text into manageable portions and providing the…
Was Katie Luther Spiritual? The Piety of the Reformation’s First Lady
In Katie Luther, Ruth Tucker introduces us to Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther and First Lady of the Reformation.
This is not the sweet and submissive, subdued and godly woman many assume the great Reformer married. Instead, we discover a strong, independent woman whose voice echoes among modern women, wives and mothers who have carved out a career of their own.
Last week we learned five notable things about Katie—including that she was a nun who escaped her convent and a businesswoman who ran a brewery and inn. But what about her faith? When we consider her husband Martin’s profound spiritual nature imbued by a deep love for theology and the Bible, does Katie’s piety come up short?
As one person put it, “Her piety is more…
An Interesting, Innovative Approach to Reading Biblical Greek
The English idiom “It’s all Greek to me” isn’t merely an expression that something isn’t understandable. It also embodies the frustrations all first-year Greek students have when they encounter the foreign language of the New Testament, yet want to understand it in order to read it for themselves.
A new innovative approach to Greek grammar aims to ameliorate such frustrations.
Reading Biblical Greek, ideated and designed by Richard J. Gibson and Constantine R. Campbell, introduces first-year Greek students to the essential information needed to optimize their grasp of the fundamentals of the Greek language—no more and no less—enabling them to read and translate New Testament Greek as soon as possible.
[This book’s] distinctive approach has been shaped by lessons learned over decades from students struggling with the inherent challenge of language…
5 Things You Need to Know About Katie Luther
They say behind every great man is a great woman.
The same holds true for Martin Luther. And Ruth Tucker wants to introduce her to you in her new book, Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation. In it, she shows how, save for Martin Luther himself, Katharina von Bora was one of the most indispensable figures of the German Reformation:
Take her and their twenty-year marriage out of the picture, and his leadership would have suffered severely. Had it not been for the stability she brought to his life, [Martin] may have gone off the rails emotionally and mentally by the mid-1520s…Only Katharina von Bora—no other woman—could have accomplished what she did with this most unstable man. (11–12)
So who was this great woman behind the great Martin Luther? Here are five…
Eagerly Do Good, Readily Represent: Finding Your Story in 1 Peter 3:13–17
That’s the question Peter addresses in part in his first letter to the churches of Asia Minor. Dennis Edwards explores this same question in his new 1 Peter commentary (Story of God Bible Commentary). In his exposition of 1 Peter 3:13–17, Edwards offers this guidance:
[W]e Christians need to be eager to be agents for good, and to be prepared at all times to represent Jesus with respect toward others. If we do so, at least some of our accusers will be brought up short by the voice of their conscience. (149)
How Does the Holy Spirit Operate in the Believer’s Life?
Which is why Michael Horton offers an entire chapter on “How the Spirit Gives” in his new book Rediscovering the Holy Spirit.
I’m glad he does. Because as a former pastor I’ve found Horton’s view to be true: people struggle to understand how the Spirit ordinarily operates in their life. After explaining the relationship between the Spirit and the means of grace, Horton helps us understand how the Spirit gives by getting specific:
Hearing Christ preached, being baptized, and taking Communion are not substitutes for faith but are the means through which the Spirit gives us faith and confirms our faith to the…
Are We Misreading the Bible When It Comes to Gender Roles?
In politics, so-called “third-rail issues” are policy subjects so combustible, so electric that touching them leads to sure-fire political ruin.
Today, the issue of gender roles within marriage and within the church is as equally combustible and electric. Yet in her new book Gender Roles and the People of God, Alice Mathews grabs it with both hands in order to help us rethink what we were taught about men and women.
What can we learn from Scripture and from history that will help us reach the clearest understanding of gender difference in God’s purposes for us? The journey may drive us to rethink what we’ve been taught. It may help us see what we might otherwise have missed. (16)
She begins the conversation with a…
Five Intriguing Insights About Grace and the Old Testament
The language of grace so permeates the Bible and all traditions of Christian theology that to claim that salvation is by grace alone is, in itself, to claim very little at all (17).
So begins Grace Alone, Carl Trueman’s tour de force examining the doctrine of salvation as a gift of God.
He examines the development of this theme in the early church, through the Reformation, to the Protestant confessions that still shape the church in the present day. Trueman also explores the biblical means of receiving God’s grace—with a highly informative engagement of grace in the Old Testament.
Below we’ve highlighted some of his material to help you better understand what the Old Testament says about this doctrine, in order to help the church recover it in the face…
5 Reasons Why “Christ Alone” Is at the Center of the Five Solas
These so-called solas were the rallying cry of the Reformers nearly 500 years ago. And binding them together was a fifth: Christ alone.
That’s the thesis of Stephen Wellum’s new book by the same name on the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior.
Solus Christus stands at the center of the other four solas, connecting them into a coherent theological system by which the Reformers declared the glory of God. (19)
Wellum offers five reasons why Christ alone came to form the center of gravitational force of the Reformation—and why it’s also the heart of Christian theology.
It’s the Lynchpin of Reformation Theology
First, Christ alone is essential for coherent Reformation doctrine. Wellum summarizes how Christ is at the center of the five Reformer solas in…
How to Apply the Bible to Your Life in Four Steps
One hallmark of biblical interpretation is the meant-means distinction: we need to determine what the Bible meant (to the original author and audience, in their context and culture) before understanding what it means (to us in our context and culture).
Authors William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard echo this hermeneutical rule in Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Third Edition, a fully updated resource to help students unravel the mysteries of interpreting Scripture.
One of those mysteries is the means side of the equation: how to apply the Bible. The authors explain that “all applications must be consistent with the meaning of passages arrived at by means of…sound hermeneutical principles” (609). But how can one make the connection between what a passage meant, as determined…