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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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…
John Calvin: The Accidental Reformer
John Calvin was a sixteenth century French theologian, best known for his prominent role in the Reformation and his influential theology. More than four and a half centuries after his death, Calvin’s teachings continue to shape Christian beliefs, particularly regarding predestination and God’s absolute sovereignty.
In his lifetime, Calvin became a well-known (and controversial) Christian leader and a major fixture of the Reformation—but that almost didn’t happen. If it hadn’t been for a fateful encounter in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin may have never stepped into the limelight.
In their online course, Church History 2: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day, scholars Frank A. James III and John Woodbridge discuss John Calvin’s life and influence, and expose the moment when his life dramatically changed course in…
The Reformation’s Influence on How We Got Our Bible
The accessibility of the Bible in most of the world’s major languages can obscure a dramatic and sometimes unexpected story: how we got the world’s bestselling book.
In Know How We Got Our Bible, scholars Ryan Reeves and Charles Hill trace the history of the Bible from its beginnings to the present day, highlighting key figures and demonstrating overall the reliability of Scripture.
This story they tell about the Bible is an important one. As series editor Justin Holcomb explains:
The Bible is the most significant and influential book in the world because it is the Word of God. The Bible tells us who God is and who we are. Ultimately the Bible is about how God created and is redeeming the world through Jesus Christ… The Bible therefore…
Why Catholic Doctrine Is Not Unbiblical
A provocative question on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And an appropriate one given lingering divisions between Protestants and Catholics in orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
It’s a question Catholic professor Matthew Levering asks in his new book, Was the Reformation a Mistake? Spoiler alert: He doesn’t think it was.
He is “deeply grateful” for the Reformers’ emphasis on a number of doctrinal positions and believes “they were right in seeking reform” (31). Yet he does insist they “made some doctrinal mistakes” (15), which he addresses in his book:
I focus on nine issues raised by Luther at the outset of the Reformation that continue to divide Catholics and Protestants. These nine issues are the following: Scripture, Mary, the…
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.…
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…
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…
A Woman for All Seasons – An Excerpt from Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation
“How do we make a five-hundred-year-old Katharina relevant to North American culture? Is there anything she has to say to Western women and men today? Why should we take the time to make her acquaintance?” (9)
In today’s excerpt from Kathie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation, Ruth Tucker invites readers to discover this no-nonsense, confident and determined woman, and to consider why her life is relevant for men and women today.
In many ways, Katharina’s voice echoes among modern women, wives, and mothers who have carved out careers of their own. And unlike so many of the Reformation women we read about, her primary vocation was not related to ministry. She was a farmer and a brewer with a boarding house the size of a Holiday…
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…
You Can Love Him or Hate Him, but You Can’t Ignore Him: Augustine on Grace–An Excerpt from Grace Alone
“Grace is the heart of the Christian gospel. It is a doctrine that touches the very depths of human existence.” (19)
In today’s excerpt from Grace Alone–Salvation as a Gift of God, Carl Trueman, professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, reveals the importance of Augustine’s thinking as a foundation for the church’s understanding of this magnificent gift.
The history of theology is essentially a story. How one tells that story, which characters and places and actions receive prominence, will vary from historian to historian. But when we look at the “history of grace,” an undisputed key figure in that history is Augustine, fifth-century bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa. Augustine’s life and writings profoundly shaped all later debates about grace.…
[Common Places] The Five Solas: Soli Deo Gloria
This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, looking back to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the theological debates kick-started by their posting. The Reformation continues to be lauded, cajoled, and debated in circles of all sorts today. At Common Places we will begin the year by focusing on some of the central principles and most relevant texts that shaped early Reformation theology and that have continued that conversation in the centuries that followed. Each month we will begin with a post related to an ongoing book project from Zondervan Academic that addresses the five solas of Reformation theology. We will then conclude each month with an annotated reading guide on classic and contemporary works that address that particular principle.
Soli Deo Gloria—Glory to God Alone—in some ways seems the odd man out…