- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (May 6, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470655305
- ISBN-13: 978-0470655306
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,714,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Luther's Theology of the Cross: Martin Luther's Theological Breakthrough 2nd Edition
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"McGrath has made a major contribution to this problem of Luther studies by his learned, lucid and informative book." Journal of Theological Studies. "It is refreshing to turn to Alister McGrath's study, Luther's Theology of the Cross, and to see how a work which is uncompromisingly theological in its focus can be rigorously historical throughout ... a work of impressive scholarship distinguished at the same time by a clarity of expression all too rare in books of this kind ... McGrath's magisterial study ... brings the most traditional of themes into fresh historical focus." Journal of Ecclesiastical History. "A study of the first rank." Choice. "Is a major study of Luther's theology, and ought to be consulted by everyone teaching the Reformation, and by Luther scholars in particular. An impressive achievement at the level of theological sophistication that has established McGrath as one of the pre-eminent Luther scolars. Its arguments are very tight and it displays a complete mastery of Luther scholarship." Journal of Religious History.
"The first edition of this book was an excellent guide to Luther's breakthrough to a theology of the cross. This new fuller and updated edition is to be greatly welcomed."
—Tony Lane, London School of Theology
Top customer reviews
Although Luther's term, "theology of glory", is most often applied to the modern health/wealth preachment, Luther actually said any area of our faith which does not center on Christ and His death is a theology of glory since it may ignore the dynamic of Christ dying for our sins.
Mc Grath is a thorogh historian/philosopher/theologian who also introduces Luther as the first modern critic of Scripture with his acid tests of Scripture reliability being Christ-centeredness and cross-focused.
Luther's own struggles to be consistent with his own thinking is an accurate protrayal of our daily struggle to be concistent with our faith. Luther's humanity is a good example to follow in maintianing personal honesty in one's pursuit of being like Christ.
A Luther scholar for serious students of the reformer and the reformation wrote this book. The author seems to be having way too much enjoyment sifting through Luther's lectures on Psalms and other Bible books to discern the timing and nature of the reformer's conversion. While this may seem a bit tedious, McGrath makes it quite fascinating. I have read through it twice and each time I can't stop and put it down.
The book is divided into two sections; The Background: Luther as a Late Medieval Theologian 1509-14, and The Breakthrough: Luther in Transition 1514-19.
In the first section, McGrath very methodically takes the reader through the specifics of the medieval gospel that Luther was schooled-in and taught. I found this to be the hardest part of the book because McGrath deals with some very specific medieval theology. If this is unfamilar to you it may prove to be slow going for you as well. But this is absolutely necessary in order for the reader to fully graps what Luther rejects and embraces. The effort is worth the reward.
In the second section, with great detail the author lays bare the development of Luther's thought through changes in vocabulary found in his biblical lectures and teaching. McGrath takes his readers right up through the Luther's defense of the new evangelical gospel at the Heidelberg Disputation of April 26, 1518. This disputation is Luther's most concise presentation of gospel doctrines. It is a document that itself is worth of serious study.
As Luther parts ways with the medieval doctrines of merit for a gospel of sovereign grace he develops what he calls the "Theology of the Cross." This is central to everything in Luther. To understand the "Theology of the Cross" and how it is distinct from what he calls the "Theology of Glory" is to know the reformer and his gospel. But reader beware! Luther's discoveries may very well radically change your understanding of the gospel and how you view modern evangelicalism. You may conclude that the modern protestant church has more in common with medieval Rome than it does with the reformers.
The one great limitation of this book for the average layman is its vast amounts of un-translated Latin on almost every page. While this makes reading the book more difficult it is not an insurmountable problem. First, 80% of the un-translated Latin can be figured out by English derivatives and the context. Second, for the most part this is theological Latin - key phrases and technical terms. If the reader will keep close by a copy of Richard Muller's "Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms" you will be able to glean most of McGrath's points. You will find Muller's work to be a rich gold mine of understanding the Latin phrases in McGrath's book and other serious theological writers. Muller not only defines the Latin, he cross-references it to other related phrases and gives concise but meaningful background of the theology behind each Latin phrase. The Latin phrases promote richly nuanced theological distinctions that make canyon sized differences.
It would also be useful to the reader to have on-hand a copy of both Luther's disputations "Against Scholastics" and "Heidelberg Disputation" with proofs. These can be found for free on the internet or purchased in book form. The lack of these as an appendix in McGrath's book is the one major weakness of the book.
This book would make a great study for the motivated theological student. It could also be used in a small group setting where each participant contributes to working through the ideas and the Latin. It would also be a great work for church leadership to work through together and then take their Sunday school teachers, youth workers and adults through as a weekend retreat.
Don't be turned off by the price of the book. For the price it should be hardbound - but Blackwell publishers are notorious for high prices. However, this is a book that would be worth carefully working through at twice the price.
I think this is a great gift for every pastor and church leader.
Sola Fide! Sola Gratia!
I don't advise buying the Audible (audio) version as there is a huge amount of Latin content (unless you know Latin). Also, the book is full of footnotes which the Audible version doesn't include. It is best read.
Here are the subsections of Chapter 4 which will hopefully give you an idea what type of material you'll be reading:
- Luther's difficulty in the light of late medieval theology
- The theological pactum and existential anxiety
- "The Righteousness of God" and "The Righteousness of Faith"
- Luther's exposition of Psalms 70 (71) and 71 (72)
- Luther's break with the soteriology of the via moderna (1515)
- The nature and significance of Luther's critique of Aristotle
- The nature and date of Luther's theological breakthrough
If you're wanting to go deeper into Lutheran theology or are interested in some of the technicalities of his theology of the cross, you'll probably enjoy this study.
Most recent customer reviews
clergy...mcgrath does a fine job explaining the epistemological,
philosophical, and theological background...Read more