Luther, and the Creative Power of the Word

. Carl Trueman: . The importance of Luther to the Christian faith cannot be overstated. For many today, he is probably a figure who looks larger as a symbol of defiance or a heroic rebel against a corrupt church and decadent theology.There is much truth in such images. His stand at the Diet of Worms was a remarkable act of courageous defiance. And his theology represented nothing less than a self-conscious attempt to overthrow the medieval thought which he had been taught and replace it with a comprehensive understanding of God and the gospel as refracted the incarnate and crucified Christ. . Yet there is more to Luther. Indeed, perhaps his greatest contribution to the faith, and one that we can still learn from today, is his understanding of God’s Word. When we hear this term, our modern evangelical minds typically go to the contemporary debates about inerrancy, infallibility, interpretation and the like. Certainly such questions are legitimate. But for

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The Difference between a Theologian of the Cross and a Theologian of [Power] Glory

Justin Taylor posts: Carl Trueman on “the most glorious contribution of Martin Luther to theological discourse,” first revealed in Heidelberg during a meeting in 1518: At the heart of this new theology was the notion that God reveals himself under his opposite; or, to express this another way, God achieves his intended purposes by doing the exact opposite of that which humans might expect.  The supreme example of this is the cross itself: God triumphs over sin and evil by allowing sin and evil to triumph (apparently) over him.  His real strength is demonstrated through apparent weakness.  This was the way a theologian of the cross thought about God. The opposite to this was the theologian of glory.  In simple terms, the theologian of glory assumed that there was basic continuity between the way the world is and the way God is: if strength is demonstrated through raw power on earth, then God’s strength must be the same, only extended to

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Why Do We Draw the Line?

By Carl Trueman: In recent years, talk of uniting around the center has been very popular in conservative evangelical quarters. One obvious reason for this is that many regard such a center as reflecting the fact that there is a solid core of key doctrines on which evangelicals agree, even though there are areas of disagreement. Thus, many consider Trinitarianism, penal substitution, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be central points of agreement. At the same time, these same people would regard the subjects and mode of baptism or the details of church polity to be areas of disagreement. Yet, by seeing the former as more important, they regard diversity on the latter as not of truly fundamental significance. A second reason for emphasizing talk about the center is, perhaps, more problematic. Frequently, those who talk of the center as all-important contrast themselves favorably with those they see as emphasizing boundaries. Boundaries are much more problematic in our

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The Reformation Isn’t Over

Thabiti Anyabwile reflects upon Cal Trueman’s breakout session at Together for the Gospel 2012 entitled “Why the Reformation Is Not Over.” Trueman reminded us that the Reformation was at its heart a pastoral protest.  Luther reacted against the buying and selling of God’s grace in a way that minimized the gospel.  Zwingli sought to reglate church life by the word of God.  Calvin likewise sought to regulate the life of the church by the word but also to free the church’s liturgy and discipline from state control.  This was a good reminder for our day, when men innovate with the church like children manipulate play dough, when a light grasp of polity and ecclesiology has harmful effects on theology and the gospel. Focusing primarily on Luther, Trueman unpacked ways the Reformation makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the church and ministry.  The Reformation established: 1.  The centrality of the cross: The cross means reality is not what it seems

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Doctrine and Doxology: Why we must fire boring teachers and preachers

Carl Trueman writes: Preaching on 1 Timothy 1:16-17 on Sunday, I was struck by a number of things.  First, doctrine and worship go together.  Doctrine may often seem a dry word but in fact it is simply the description of who God is and how he has acted.   As Paul reflects in 1 Tim. 1 upon how God has dealt with him, his language becomes exuberant and he speaks of God’s grace `overflowing’ towards him.  Then, able to contain himself no more, he bursts into a doxology.  This is hardly surprising.  The description of God’s actions should naturally call forth worship; and here Paul offers a paradigm of a worshipful response in which he ascribes to God glory and honour, i.e., that to which God’s person and actions entitle him.  Paul’s praise is doctrinal in origin and doctrinal in content.  To state what should be obvious, praise and worship that is neither is simply not praise and worship as the Bible would

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