Did Martin Luther Really Want James Taken Out of the Bible?
Martin Luther, the celebrated catalyst of the Protestant Reformation, famously took issue with the book of James. He didn’t think it expressed the “nature of the Gospel,” it appeared to contradict Paul’s statements about justification by faith, and it didn’t directly mention Christ.
“Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.” —Martin Luther
It’s often said that Luther was so opposed to the Book of James that he suggested it didn’t belong in the biblical canon. But while Protestant churches embraced many of Luther’s ideas and teachings, our Bibles clearly still include James today. So is it true? Did the great reformer really believe this important book didn’t belong in the Bible?
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Because Christ Was Born, We Can “Put on Christ” and Become “Firstborn Sons”
’Tis the season to reflect upon the majesty and mystery of the incarnation of Christ. But why not also reflect upon another aspect of his person and work: the imputation of his righteousness to sinners?
Although the Lenten season is still a few months away, Christmas still affords us the opportunity to consider his gift of righteousness through his death on the cross—given that Christ’s birth is an obvious prelude to his vicarious substitution, which paved the way for our justification and the “great exchange.”
Michael Horton opens his new two-volume theological project, Justification (Volume 1 and Volume 2) with this motif from the ancient church—a work in which he helps readers encounter the remarkable biblical texts on justification and places them in conversation with provocative proposals…
What Does Justification Mean? 7 Things You Need to Know
When we reflect on the meaning of salvation—and on our piety, mission, and life together—our thought necessarily engages the doctrine of justification. But what does justification mean? In many ways, this question has always sat at the heart of the Christian faith. However, at various junctures in the church’s history the question has taken on greater urgency—and debate. We live in such a time.
Michael Horton explores the meaning of justification in a key chapter of his new book Justification, Volume 2, one half of the new two-volume theological project on justification (also including Volume 1).
This post overviews seven of the many insights Horton unearths about the meaning of justification in chapter seven of Justification, Volume 2, where Horton outlines the historical, lexical, exegetical, and theological contours…
3 Reasons Why You Should (Re)consider the Doctrine of Justification
When we reflect on the meaning of salvation—and on our piety, mission, and life together—our thought necessarily engages the doctrine of justification. Michael Horton aims to help scholars, students, pastors, and interested Christians alike (re)engage this vital doctrine in his new two-volume theological project, Justification (Volume 1 and Volume 2).
In Justification, Horton helps the reader encounter the remarkable biblical texts on justification, and places those texts in conversation with provocative proposals that have reignited contemporary debates around justification.
“I write this book,” explains Horton, “with the conviction that it is always relevant to proclaim the justification of the ungodly, although we have a long way to go to explore what that means . . . It is always the right time to tell the…
How Luther discovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone
One of the decisive doctrines to emerge from the Protestant Reformation—and central to Luther’s theology—was the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide).
But when and how did Luther come to his new understanding of this doctrine?
Rather than seeing his theological discovery as a single decisive event, we should view it more as a gradual process.
Let’s take a look.
Luther’s early encounters with Romans and Psalms
Between 1513 and 1516, Luther lectured on the Psalms and Romans. It is clear from these texts that he was beginning to think differently about how the individual sinner finds forgiveness from God.
He retained some of the older traditional concepts alongside his radical new ideas. Only after some years of biblical study under the inspiration of the theology of Augustine did Luther arrive at a more fully formed distinctive…
What is justification?
In Romans 1:17, Paul writes: “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
This does not refer, in so many words, to “justification by faith.” However, the idea is clearly expressed: God’s righteousness is “by faith from first to last.” It is the one who is “righteous by faith” who will gain spiritual life.
What does this mean? Douglas Moo explains:
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How Do Catholics and Protestants Disagree over Salvation & Justification?
On October 31, 1517, an unsuspecting monk ventured to challenge the prevailing ecclesial authorities of his day by posting his “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Underlying his disputes with the Indulgence Industrial Complex was a theme that would become one of the single most important rallying points in the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin pointedly named this theme:
The only point in dispute is how we are deemed righteous in the sight of God. (Acts of the Council of Trent)
This point of dispute still sits at the heart of what divides Catholics and Protestants five hundred years later. But how exactly do they differ? And is there no point of agreement when it comes to salvation and justification? Gregg…
Using an Outdated Term? – An Excerpt from Faith Alone
“What is the solution to this mess called sin?” This is one of the most important questions the Gospel answers. In Faith Alone — the first book in the “5 Solas Series” — Thomas Schreiner reminds us that salvation is by faith alone, and how fundamental this is to the Gospel. Read the introduction here, then order your copy of Faith Alone today.
One of the five rallying cries of the Reformation was the statement that we are saved by faith alone — sola fide! These words declared that salvation does not come from looking at our own works of righteousness, but from looking outside ourselves to another, to the person and work of Jesus Christ. This statement grew out of a desire to return to the biblical…
Did the Early Church Teach ‘Faith Alone’?
Tom Schreiner addresses these questions and more in his new book Faith Alone, one of five new resources exploring the five sola rallying cries of the Reformation. It offers a historical, biblical and theological tour of the doctrine of justification, and concludes with contemporary challenges to it.
He believes sola fide “should continue to be taught and treasured today because it summarizes biblical teaching…” (15) Schreiner tours how the church has understood this teaching, beginning with the early church. Because as he writes, “By affirming sola fide, we are not saying that we believe the true church only arose in the sixteenth century…we stand in the deepest appreciation of believers…
Extracurricular Activities 2.28.15 — Diversity, the Church and Utopia, & Rural Churches
In the latest issue of JBL is an article by Paula Fredriksen on “Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Ten Commandments, and Pagan ‘Justification by faith,’” JBL 133.4 (2014): 801-7.
Fredriksen attempts to understand “justification by faith” beyond its usual theological discourse and identify the meaning of the phrase in its original social context. Her starting point is Josephus, Ant. 18.116-19 with John the Baptist’s preaching of “piety” and “righteousness” which correspond to the two tables of the Ten Commandments: commands 1-5 (piety toward God) and commands 6-10 (justice towards others).
A prominent question many worldviews and metanarratives are now wrestling with is the question of human diversity. Diversity is a fact that cannot be denied. The insularity…
Highlights of the ETS 2010 Annual Meeting by Craig Blomberg
The theme of this year’s meeting was “Justification by Faith.” Themes for annual meetings of the ETS determine the choices of topics and speakers at the plenary sessions, and inevitably a plurality of the papers for the smaller parallel sessions held in between will have something to do with that topic as well. But with all the different study groups and specialized interests of the members, it Is certainly possible to select sessions to attend in between the plenaries during every single time slot on entirely unrelated topics. Some years the plenary speakers have been so-so and the best papers have been some of the less highlighted ones. This year, however, I suspect there would be widespread support for the belief that the three plenary speakers did indeed dominate the “highlight reel.”