Book Review: Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (11/2)

One of the most fundamental tenants the christian faith is the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. That remains to be one of the sweetest promise and doctrine that God has offered to the world. As such, it should deservedly be proclaimed and defended with zeal and vigour. That is exactly what Thomas R. Schreiner has done in this book.

Faith Alone - The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught...and Why It Still MattersInitially I was skeptical whether a book solely on faith alone would be something worth reading. I have been steeped in the reformed tradition and having read ‘Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace’ by James Montgomery Boice (an excellent introduction to the 5 solas), I was not sure if it was a topic that had warranted a book for it. Having read this book, I have to say that this book certainly deserves wide reading.

Schreiner starts by giving a brief introduction to the doctrine of justification by faith alone and some objections that have been raised against this doctrine. Next, Schreiner tackles the first objection against the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Schreiner shows convincingly that justification by faith alone is not a 16th century discovery, rather it is doctrine that has known since the earliest church has exist. Schreiner then skilfully trace this doctrine through history and highlights several nuances of a few key christian leaders.

Next, Schreiner shows readers how the bible teaches us justification is by faith alone. Within this section Schreiner goes to the original languages and highlights and explains key words. Schreiber demonstrates that a faithful reading of scripture will no doubt lead readers to the justification of faith.

Lastly, Schreiner brings the readers up to date on contemporary arguments against justification by faith. Crucially Schreiner gives brief answers against N. T. Wright’s New Perspective on Paul. Pastors who are new to the topic can have a quick overview on this issue through reading this book, but they will be wise to consult other book length responses written by the same author.

All in all, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. He has accomplished what a good theological book should do, give readers a biblical and historical understanding of the topic and engages the readers with contemporary issues. Schreiner has set a very high standard for this series and I certainly look forward to the other 4 books in this series.

Rating: 5 / 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

P.S. As mentioned, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace will be a great introduction to this topic for anyone, get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle

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Book Review – Bitesize Biographies: Ulrich Zwingli (6/6)

Many of us are familiar with the life of Luther and Calvin, they have been in the limelight ever since the Reformation. But how many of us know about life and contribution of Ulrich Zwingli? I have to say that prior to reading this book, I certainly have heard about Zwingli, yet I do not know how he has contributed to the Reformation. Now after reading this biography on him, I have to say, I go away with a great admiration of the life of Ulrich Zwingli.

 Ulrich Zwingli by William BoekesteinWilliam Boekestein has written a short but informative biography on Ulrich Zwingli. Boekestein highlights the major events in the life of Zwingli from his birth till his death. What I enjoyed thoroughly within this book is not just how the life of Zwingli is portrayed, but also it tells the history of Zwingli with the historical context clearly spelled out.

Prior to this, I would have attributed the Reformation of the Swiss to Calvin, but now I know otherwise. Without much influence from Calvin or Luther, Zwingli almost singlehandedly help reformed Zurich to the protestant camp.

The conflict between Luther and Zwingli has also been clearly spelled out giving the readers a clear picture of what the argument was about and how each side dealt with the issue. Boekestein also shows clearly not only the strength of Zwingli but also offers helpful criticism on Zwingli.

If you have not read anything about Zwingli, or are interested to read up about the reformation of Zurich, I highly encourage to pick up this book and read. You will go away highly appreciative of Boekestein excellent effort of this short biography and also of the work done by Zwingli.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping) [sorry, none can be found now].

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

Book Review – Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (2/1)

Martin Luther may have been immortalised by the “Here I stand…” quote, but there is so much more to his life than that simple quote.

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin LutherFirst, I must say, this is a full biography. Sometimes biographies can be so short that they merely fill you with the life of the person. These kind of biographies then do not give you to context of what everything is happening. This biography by Roland Bainton however does not have any of these weakness. At at whopping 400 pages, Bainton presents Luther in his context, society and culture.

Bainton allows the reader to go away with a deep understanding of the what was Luther was going through before, during and after the Reformation. At times, Bainton also injects his own evaluation on how Luther handled the various situations in Luther’s life. Within the book, there are also many picture of wood carvings displayed appropriately which really helps the readers to “go back in time”.

Bainton does not only fills the readers with the life of Luther, he fills the readers with knowledge  of the cultural and religious context of Luther in his life. These were very well explain and even as a novice in such matters, I do not find myself confused about it. Bainton not only talks about why Luther called for the Reformation, he also talks about how the Reformation slowly happened, and what followed up from it.

What I gathered from reading the life of Luther is his focus on the importance of the Word. Which was a great reminder for myself as someone who lives after the Reformation, it is easy to take the Word of God for granted and then to neglect it. Next, I see how fearless Luther was to stand for what he thinks is right. That too was a timely reminder for me as a christian, that I should be firm to stand for what I know from the Word of God, is right.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a substantial biography to Luther, but for readers who wants a lighter introduction, I think The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven Lawson would be a better choice.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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