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…
How the Protestant Reformation Started
You probably know at least one thing about Martin Luther: that he nailed the 95 theses to a church door and defied the Roman Catholic Church.
This was Luther’s declaration of independence from Rome.
The truth is, this is historically inaccurate.
Yes, October 31, 1517, would turn out to be the first hint that the Western world was about to be turned upside down. But Luther’s act on October 31, 1517 was not an act of rebellion.
It was, in fact, just the opposite. It was the act of a dutiful son of mother church.
Someone—no one knows who—took the Latin text of Luther’s 95 Theses, translated them into German, and sent them all over Germany. When the German people realized that Luther was standing up against abuses in the church, he became a hero throughout Germany.
The Reformation began.…
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…
Giving Credit to Katharina von Bora (Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation)
There are a thousand reasons to celebrate advances women have made as we contemplate Women’s History Month, but from another perspective, a picture is worth a thousand reasons. The recent setting was the White House, March 23, 2017 where Vice President Pence was leading a meeting related to health care. On the docket was the proposal to remove maternity care as a required aspect of the Republican health care bill. That no women were pictured among the thirty men at the table was telling.
In fact, to demonstrate how few women hold high positions of leadership, Elle Magazine, in their #MoreWomen campaign of 2015, photoshopped men out of significant groupings of leaders in various arenas, from politics to business. The results were startling. In a grouping of more than thirty world leaders, only three women were left.
What if we…
3 Misconceptions of One of the Most Unknown, Fruitful Theological Ideas
Arminianism, check. Lutheranism, check. Calvinism, big check. But Molinism, named after the Catholic reformer and Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina? Mostly unknown.
Yet, as Kirk MacGregor reveals in his new book Luis de Molina, “Molina’s thought is quite relevant to Christians of all theological stripes, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.” (12) In fact, middle knowledge is “one of the four principal views on divine providence and omniscience, alongside Calvinism, open theism, and simple foreknowledge.” (13)
Perhaps the reason why Molina’s theology is so unknown is because he is largely unknown. While Bainton gave us Here I Stand and Cottret Calvin: A Biography,…
Extracurricular Activities 11.01.14 — Favorite Heresies, Luther’s 95 Theses, Ross Douthat’s Catholicism
Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church.
A survey released today by LifeWay Research for Ligonier Ministries “reveals a significant level of theological confusion,” said Stephen Nichols, Ligonier’s chief academic officer. Many evangelicals do not have orthodox views about either God or humans, especially on questions of salvation and the Holy Spirit, he said.
On October 31, 1517—a Saturday—a 33-year-old former monk turned theology professor at the University of Wittenberg walked over to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and nailed a paper of 95 theses to the door, hoping to spark an academic discussion, making the first order of business the proposition that all of life…
What Would Martin Luther Have Thought about PROOF?
That's the question Timothy Paul Jones asks of his new book whom he co-authored with Daniel Montgomery, called PROOF. Some are calling it a powerful new paradigm for explaining the intoxicating joy of God’s irresistible grace, as each letter refers to 5 facets of God’s grace.
He asks the question because their book is a self-conscious reformulation of the mnemonic device used in Reformed circles known as TULIP. And while Luther launched the reformation that gave rise to the beliefs undergirding TULIP, his view of how God saves people differed from the theologians in the Reformed tradition.
In an enlightening blog post at the PROOF website, Jones walks through the five points of grace…
Developments in My Field of Study — Schreiner Says Luther & Calvin Were Right About Paul
(Can't see the video? Watch it here)
In 2010 I had the chance to listen to one of the heavy-hitting voices in one of the most significant developments in Pauline studies, the New Perspective on Paul. That voice was Tom Schreiner, professor of NT studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and contributor to Four Views on the Apostle Paul.
Today Schreiner looks back on this development, particularly how it's grown from an obscure academic subtopic to a more mainstream one in churches.
He also shares what he consideres to be his conclusions on the matter:
One of the things I've argued for and I believe…is that the Reformers were…