CH2 Unit 1c.Luther s Theology

Luther’s Theology
Luther rediscovered
faith & salvation
Copyright 2002 NOBTS, Lloyd A. Harsch & Rex D. Butler
Luther’s Theology
• Defined the Protestant Evangelical principles
– Sola gratia: Grace alone
– Sola fides: Faith alone
– Sola scriptura: Scripture alone
Grace alone – not works
• God’s grace in Christ alone saves the person, not
works or efforts. The sinner receives the
righteousness of Christ when he or she trusts in
God=s promise in the Gospel. The person is
justified by faith alone not by participation in the
Church and the sacraments.
• The two sacraments (baptism and the Lord=s
Supper which Christ ordained) visibly proclaim the
Word of God and are activities which
the Holy Spirit uses to strengthen and
make real the person=s relationship
with Christ.
Faith alone – not sacraments
• Justification by faith alone for salvation.
Luther and other evangelical Christians
rejected the Catholic view that humans
actually become righteous or justified by
partaking of the sacraments (and cooperating
with the “grace” in them) so that they can earn
merits and thus meet God’s standard.
Scripture alone – not traditions
• Sola Scriptura. The authority for faith and
practice rests in the Scriptures alone not in
the Church’s traditions.
• Reformers focused on proclamation of God’s
word, the centrality of Christ and personal
belief in his work in history (His life, death and
• Sought to recover the biblical views
of the Apostle Paul and often relied
on Augustine’s framework of
Protestant View of Church
• Priesthood of the believer is the basis
– Not hierarchical where the priest mediated or dispensed
grace on God’s behalf (sacerdotal agency)
– Every believer has a direct relationship with and access
to God through Christ and also has a responsibility to
minister to other Christians in the life of the church
– Holy Spirit enables the individual believers to understand
and interpret God’s word
– Therefore, Protestants involve laymen as well as clergy in
the government and work of the church
– Only their respective functions (call) differ among saints
in the fellowship of sharing the work of Christ in the world
Protestant View of Church
• The Church as the communion of the saints
– The Protestant leaders, like Luther and Calvin, held to
Augustine’s concept that the church of Jesus Christ is made
up of the elect, those who really believe in the Gospel
– Since God’s election and genuine faith are hidden matters in
the person’s heart, this true universal fellowship is invisible
– The visible churches embraced everyone in a territory and
contained both saved and the lost, the wheat and tares, until
the Judgment.
– Magistrates act as emergency bishops appointing
superintendents, calling synods (councils of ministers) to
order church life.
Marks of Evangelical Church
• A truly “evangelical” church, which
focused on the need to believe the
Gospel (euanggelion), existed where:
–Word of God is correctly proclaimed
–Sacraments are properly administered
–Discipline for godly living is practiced
Luther’s View of Sacraments
• Baptism
– Infant baptism was retained to incorporate
children into the church for their instruction in
the Christian faith
– Baptism was essential since the Holy Spirit
came upon the child (or person) at that point to
deal with their sin problem
– The Reformed saw baptism as the external
sign of the Holy Spirit’s work and thus
important but not essential for salvation
Luther’s View of Sacraments
• Lord’s Supper
– Consubstantiation, real bodily presence,
not a sacrifice with transubstantiation
– This belief was essential.
– Proclaimed Word and the Supper were
channels of grace because only through
these means would the Holy Spirit bring
the real presence of Christ into the
believer’s life
– Lutherans, therefore, continued a more
elaborate liturgy along the Catholic
patterns of worship
Problem Areas for
Luther’s Followers
• Focus on justification to the neglect of
• Inward, passive receiving of faith
separated from outward, active obedience
Spread of “Evangelical”
(Lutheran) Churches
• Holy Roman Empire (Germany) Principalities/States
• Scandinavian Kingdoms: Denmark, Sweden
• Baltic region: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Prussia
• Central and Eastern Europe: Areas with ethnic
German speaking populations (Bohemia, Silesia,
Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth, Hungary) had
Evangelical churches but not as official state
sponsored churches

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