Book Review – Luther on the Christian Life (Theologians on the Christian Life) (28/8)

Luther may not be the greatest theologian ever, but he is certainly a theologian, a titan, who’s a joy to read. Carl Trueman writes an engaging book on Luther in the “… on Christian Life” series, introducing to readers Luther’s understanding on the christian life.

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (Theologians on the Christian Life)Having finished this book for quite some time, I have to say that this book has been a joy to read and a book that gives the readers a great introduction to Luther’s writing. Trueman starts by introducing Luther to the readers. He writes about his life and the historical context. Next he elaborates what made Luther raised his 95 theses in 1517 how that finally lead to the reformation of the church. Next he brings out key events in Luther’s life, as such his marriage to Katherine von Bora, his disagreement with Zwingli to the extent of even calling Zwingli to be of a different spirit and finally his death in 1546.

After giving the readers a quick lesson on the life of Luther, Trueman brings the readers to one of the key teaching of Luther, the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. Simply put, the theology of glory is what man think about God and how we should serve Him, and the theology of the cross is knowing what God think about how we should serve Him and to serve Him accordingly. This distinction between the theology of the cross and glory is what separates the man who wants to serve God as He commands and man who wants to serve God as he desires.

Next Trueman shows the readers how important the doctrine of the preach word is in the life and ministry of Luther. He bring out the centrality of the Word of God in Luther’s ministry and also Luther’s understanding of the power of God’s word. As I was reading the chapter it is a big reminder to me of how often I see very little power in the power of Word, this is not the case for Luther. He understands and firmly believes in the power of God’s Word and puts the preaching of the word as a central component in the church service. This can be seen in the liturgy used in the service and also the catechism he created to teach children a summary of what the christian life is.

The next topic that Trueman discusses is that of the Lord supper and baptism. Truman brings out the sacramental aspect of Luther’s understanding of both the baptism and the Lord supper. Baptism for Luther is how one begins or enters into the christian life. So important is baptism in Luther’s understanding that he tells his congregation that when they are tempted about their assurance in Christ, they are to remember that they have been baptised, and truly belong to Christ.  The Lord supper is then a sure sign that is repeated reminding them of what Christ has done for them.

Trueman also shows Luther’s understanding of righteousness, and how christians are declared righteous by their faith in Christ. Luther however has learnt over the years that it is not enough to simply preaching the word of God and drink beer in the pub. No, the work in the ministry still requires discipline and instruction. Which is what Luther addresses when talking about the two kinds of righteousness a christian possesses — an alien righteousness and proper righteousness. Alien righteousness is what a christian obtains when he believes in Jesus. That is what puts a believer righteous when he stands before God. But proper righteousness is what is often termed as sanctification, it is what a christian does in killing sin and when he does good to the neighbour. The proper righteousness is therefore an extension of the alien righteousness the christian receives from Christ.

This culminates into the death of Luther in which his last words are “We are beggars, this is true” Luther is clear that despite what he has done and accomplished in light of eternality, he is nothing but a beggar, one who only receives what the good Lord has given so freely.

This book has been a great introduction to Luther, and has made me want to read Luther more. I hope anyone who is interested in Luther will read this book. Highly recommended for those who need an introduction to Luther. As with every other book in this series, I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from reading it and look forward to reading the next book within this series.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Advertisements

Book Review – Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (23/9)

What does the modern-day, sophisticated church has to do with the reformation of the (not so) ancient past? Well… Plenty! In this book, Carl Trueman contends that the churches today (and tomorrow) about the need to recover the spirit of the reformers.Reformation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

In the first chapter, Trueman first gives an analyses of the current status of evangelicals. First, he described how the evangelicals have lost the spirit of the reformers, specially he explained why the reformers saw the desperate need for the church in their time to be reformed to the centrality of the Gospel and the Word, their motivation and their goal. Then, Trueman commented on how the contention within the evangelical with regards to worship often only differ merely with the outward form, which in his view, is only embracing the reformers outwardly, but missing the precise point of why the reformers saw — a need for the congregation to have a vernacular worship.

In the next chapter, Trueman looks at the theology of glory — looking at God from man’s  point of view vs theology of the cross — looking at God from Christ’s point of view. This branches out of how Luther himself saw the dichotomy of these two teaching and found the teachings to the Church then to be akin to those of the theology of glory, which thinks that God values what man values. In contrast to that, Luther responded by proclaiming that the church needs to embrace the theology of the Cross.

Trueman then raises two examples that he finds the current evangelical circle need to consider, first regarding suffer, How do we understand and view suffering? Are we unknowingly embracing the theology of glory by our preoccupation to shun away from suffering or to deem suffering as bad or ‘not according to God’s plan’? In the next example, Trueman talks about the definition of a truly successful church. Is the successful church one that entertains and attracts and gauges it’s success by numbers? Or by how faithful the word is being preached? He calls the church to recover what they have lost, to re-embrace the true marks of the ‘successful’ church.

In the next chapter, Trueman then focuses on the centrality word of God and preaching what it does, what it is for, and what the training preachers be. And in the last chapter, He elaborates on the doctrine of assurance, and how we can you find it? Do we base it on our feelings? Emotions? Experience? Or rather on what God has done for us, definitively and absolutely, through Christ Jesus death and resurrection?

Essentially, this is a call for the reform-ed (i.e. Protestant) to re-examine the importance of the Reformation and recover the spirit of Reformers. Although this may be a thin book, it does pack a punch and Trueman gives many points for the evangelical to consider how far we are away from the reformers, and to recover from it before it’s too late for us. Recommended for all church leaders and preachers who wishes to be faithful to what God’s Word say.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Book Review – Fools Rush in Where Monkey Fear to Tread (7/5)

Books

I have to say this is a hard book to review, not because it is not well written nor was it was a bad book, but the topics discussed was so well spread it’s hard to find a phrase to describe it other than the one that Trueman has provided: “Taking Aim at Everyone“.

Fools Rush in Where Monkey Fear to TreadThis is really what the book is meant to do, take aim at everyone. Trueman writes in a wholesome manner, being able to be sensitive to the culture that we’re in and also critical of what is happening, don’t get me wrong, Trueman is not some cynical critic, but one that really does brings out pointers that we really ought to think about.     What’s included in this book:

  1. What’s wrong with (Mark) Driscoll?
  2. Why aren’t evangelical more humorous (and why they should be)
  3. Why we can’t take criticism (and what’s wrong with it)
  4. And many more….

You have to read to find out, it will be well worth your time and money. Read not to be more informative, but rather read to be able to think more carefully about what is happening about Christendom and how our brothers in the past can help guide us on to the future.

Rating: 4.5/5

If you’re interested you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.