Book Review: Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings


Westminster Seminary California has just published another one of my book reviews:

Martin Luther is perhaps the most popular figure of theological study, outside secondary literature on the life of Jesus Christ. As the foundational character of Protestantism, to control Luther is to control the reformation. For this reason, some historians have done their best to create a Luther after their own theological image. Today it seems the Luther of faith governs the Luther of history seen with the Luther Renaissance and the Finnish School of interpretation. The former made Luther the German idealist and the later the product of Eastern Orthodoxy. Both camps removed Luther from his actual writings and the 17th century confessional scholastics, who carried on his reform.

Modern schools of interpretation fail to understand that Luther’s theology developed over time. He was an “occasional theologian.” He did not write a single summary of theology but wrote as he had “concrete struggles for the gospel in the context of the sixteenth century church and society.” No single tower experience caused Luther to pen, “If the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost”—such conclusions came after years of study. Reading Luther’s early works may impress a medieval mold. Further reading, however, produces the Protestant Luther. Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings 2nd Edition was “prepared with the special hope that it might be useful in making the writings of Martin Luther available as a resource for contemporary work in theology,” and in so doing will allow the real Luther to stand up. This book comes highly recommended for those who want to know the man and not the myth…continue.


Give Me God’s Hymnbook on the Sabbath

Interested in the singing of Psalms in corporate worship? I for one love the Psalter. I l am thankful that the Church Order of my federation, article 39, states, “The 150 Psalms shall have the principal place in the singing of the churches.” We do sing other texts in this church plant. Nevertheless, God’s Hymnbook takes the chief place in our singing.  Notice I did not say “takes chief place in our worship,” because the entire service is worship not just the singing.

Anywho, Westminster Seminary California has just posted another book review of mine on the topic of Psalm singing, Sing a New Song by Joel Beeke and Anthony Selvaggio. This book would be a good primer for those interested in the “worship wars” as they relate to psalmody.  The book is not limited to exclusive psalmody per se, as it is more an argument for using inspired text in worship. If you are in Missoula and have never sung from a Psalter then come check us out this Lord’s Day at 1:00pm.  We will sing Psalm 23, 51:10–12, and 65.  We will also sing Habakkuk 2:20.  If you want to know more about Psalm singing, then check out my book review click here.

Has the Church replaced Israel?

Over at you can read a book review I did on Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation.  In this book, Vlach argues against the so called supersessionism.  He defines it as “the view that the New Testament Church is the new and/or true Israel that has forever superseded the nation Israel as the People of God.”  He argues that Reformed exegetes who hold to these beliefs introduce “change, alteration, or reinterpretation to the original meaning,” of the Old Testament text, and they “do not allow” Old Testament passages “to be the reference points for their own meaning.”

In reality, Reformed Christians see no replacement of Israel because there are not two particulars in the first place.  The New Testament assumes corporate unity between Israel and the church.  Christ is presented as the representative of the true Israel of the Old Testament, and the true Israel—the church—in the New Testament.  The Bible presents a unified history controlled by a wise and sovereign God, who planned the early parts of his Word to correspond and point to the latter parts.  Geerhardus Vos states in Biblical Theology that “revelation does not stand alone by itself,” rather it is “inseparably attached” to the activity of Redemption.  Revelation is the interpretation of redemption.  Because of this, it unfolds itself “in installments as redemption does” (5–6).  Hermeneutics therefore should come from a canon that allows the latter parts of biblical history to function as the broader context.  Christ and the Apostles of the New Testament interpret the Old Testament in light of redemption.  Jesus Christ is the center of history, and the key that unlocks the early portions of the Old Testament promises.  The canon does interpret the canon.

Click here to read the book review. 

Heaven, Hell And The Theology of Rob Bell Diagnosed

Dr. Horton offers his diagnosis of Bell’s universalism.  Simply said, it is a picture of hell through the lens of old school liberalism. I use liberalism not as a pejorative , like so often happens in conservative circles, but to place this theology in the right tradition. It is classic liberal theology. Read the works of classic liberals, Albrecht Ritschl’s The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation, Wilhelm Herrmann, Adolf Harnack, and Harry Emerson Fosdick to see Bells’ tradition. Dr. Horton explains this theology: Continue reading

Recovering the Great Commission

Mike Horton has put out another book, and no I’m not talking about his systematic treatise that was just published. His latest book is called  The Gospel Commission: Recovering the Strategy of Making Disciples . So many books so little time, I need to get out of seminary sometime this decade, so that I can read what I want too.

I’m Valiant for Truth

My first book review for the Valiant for Truth blog over at Westminster Seminary California has been published: James K. A. Smith, Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2010), 160pp, $14.99. Paper. Here is my excerpt:

“James K. A. Smith’s, Letters to a Young Calvinist exposes the overemphasis of TULIP among ‘new Calvinism,’ and encourages young Calvinists to avoid pride and arrogance that often accompanies theological exercise.  The format of this book is straightforward.  Each chapter is a letter to ‘Jesse,’ (the name is unimportant; think of yourself as the addressee) from an experienced Reformed mentor, who pastorally shows concern and counsel.”

Click here Valiant for Truth to see the blog entry.

Valiant for Truth?

New Blog over at Westminster Seminary California, Valiant For Truth.  I have and will contribute book reviews to the blog.  I have submitted my first review, “Letters to a Young Calvinist.”  It will come out any day now.  If you are interested in purchasing a new book, you might want to check the reviews this blog will offer.  In addition, many of the profs from WSCAL will contribute to the blog.  So check it out and happy blogging.