Your next great read is here. I know how much you love to read, study, and share what your learning with those around you, so I’m going to provide you with some great resources that will keep your reading pipeline full of great options! This month is the perfect time to fill-up on books dealing with the reformation, and this series I’m sharing with you today does just that! It immerses you deep into the 5 solas of the reformation: sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. Written by five insightful theologians including, Matthew Barrett, Carl R. Trueman, Thomas Schreiner, Stephen Wellum, and David Vandrunen, this series takes on a biblical and historical journey of these topics and shows us how vital they were to our faith not only 500 years ago, but today as well. The opening words from the series editor, Matthew Barrett, says it all:
What doctrines could be more foundational to what it means to be an evangelical Protestant than the five solas (or solae) of the Reformation? In my experience, however, many in evangelical churches today have never heard of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone).
Now it could be that they have never heard the labels but would recognize the doctrines once told what each sola means. At least I pray so. But my suspicion is that for many churchgoers, even the content of these five solas is foreign, or worse, offensive. We live in a day when Scripture’s authority is questioned, the exclusivity of Christ as mediator as well as the necessity of saving faith are offensive to pluralistic ears, and the glory of God in vocation is diminished by cultural accommodation as well as by individual and ecclesiastical narcissism. The temptation is to think that these five solas are museum pieces of a bygone era with little relevance for today’s church. We disagree. We need these solas just as much today as the Reformers needed them in the sixteenth century. The year 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
These five volumes, written by some of the best theologians today, cel- ebrate that anniversary. Our aim is not merely to look to the past but to the present, demonstrating that we must drink deeply from the wells of the five solas in order to recover our theological bearings and find spiritual refreshment.
Post tenebras lux
Matthew Barrett, series editor
Here are just a few short excerpts from this series:
While some hiss at biblical authority, I cherish it. If God did not speak with authority in his written Word, I would be lost in my sins to this day, and so would you. So it is with much confidence that I can say that if the authority of Scripture is abandoned, our faith will be too. It is only a matter of time. To quote Augustine: “Faith will start tottering if the authority of scripture is undermined” (Barrett, 373-374).
As we shall see from looking at what the Bible teaches about grace and looking at how the greatest theologians of the Christian tradition have articulated it, grace is far more than a mere attitude or sentiment in God. God does not turn a blind eye to human rebellion. In fact, he tackles it head-on in the person and work of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible constantly connects grace to Christ, and the best theologians of the Christian faith have always made this connection central to their understanding and articulation of grace. To talk about grace is to talk about Christ (Trueman, 17-18).
Calvin, like Luther, stresses that justification is by faith alone. A right relationship to God can’t be gained by works since all people sin; thus the only pathway to salvation is faith. Calvin is careful to say, however, that faith shouldn’t be construed as a work, as if faith itself justifies us, for if such were the case, then faith would be a good work that makes us right with God. Instead, faith is the instrument or vessel that joins us to Christ, and ultimately believers are justified by Christ as the crucified and risen one (Schreiner, 56).
In the eleventh century, Anselm of Canterbury asked, “Why did God become man?” The answer to the question is significant, to say the least. To answer it takes us to the heart of Christian theology and what J. I. Packer labels “the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us.” Of all the glorious truths of Christian theology, there is none more excellent and central than the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was “God made man – that the second person of th eGodhead became the ‘second man’ (1 Cor 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that he took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as he was human” (Wellum, 107-108).
Soli Deo gloria. No merely human book can ever hope to capture sufficiently the brilliance and depth of this theme. But it is well worth the effort to reflect anew on this life-changing idea that animated the Reformation and has inspired countless believers ever since. Truly, “Glory to God Alone” is the majestic heart of Christian faith and life (Vandrunen, 170).