Mondays are for Church History - 9/12/16
Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 2. New York: HarperCollins, 2010b. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 4 “Luther’s Theology” Loc. 827-994.
Gonzalez considers Luther’s theology to be largely mature by 1521, when he appeared at Worms (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 833). He viewed Scripture as “the starting point and the final authority for his theology” (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 833). At the same time, he affirmed Jesus as the living Word of God (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 842). God, then, is active through His Word. “The Bible is the Word of God because in it Jesus, the Word incarnate, comes to us” (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 850). Another distinction of Luther’s theology is his theology of the cross (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 870). Rather than being a theologian of man’s glory, reaching to God, we see God’s self-revelation in Jesus, the one who reaches to us (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 878). God has revealed himself in two ways, law and gospel (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 886). “The contrast between law and gospel shows that God’s revelation is both a work of judgment and a word of grace. The two always come together, and one cannot hear the word of grace without hearing also the word of judgment” (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 886). Further, Luther, sometimes considered a rationalist or an individualist, was neither (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 910). He considered human reason as unreliable. The importance of the church as God’s way of salvation was affirmed by him (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 910). It is within the life of the church that we find our place and purpose (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 918). Because of this value of the Word of God and the life of the church, Luther consciously asserted only two sacraments, both instituted by Jesus with a command, a physical sign, and a promise of the gospel. These are baptism and communion (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 933). Gonzalez recognizes both as being instituted by God and applied to humans who respond in faith (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 941). The final doctrine Gonzalez discusses in this chapter is Luther’s doctrine of two kingdoms (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 972). The civil realm operates based on law, while the church real operates based on gospel. Both are necessary. Both must act within their right boundaries.
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