Lutheran Worship and Resources

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Two Book Reviews

Understanding Luther's Galatians can be found here on Amazon.

Top review from the United States

Verified Purchase

This book is a re-issue of Dr. Theodore Graebner’s shorter translation of Martin Luther's “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians.”

In his forward, Dr. Graebner expressed his reason for his translation of Martin Luther's work:

“The importance of this commentary on Galatians for the history of Protestantism is very great. It presents, like no other of Luther's writings, the central thought of Christianity, the justification of the sinner for the sake of Christ's merits alone.”

Dr. Gregory L. Jackson added an introduction along with comments, which he embedded within the text. He enclosed his comments within boxes, in order to separate them from Luther's words.

In his introduction, Dr. Jackson wrote that:

“By stealth, Lutherans have steadily eroded the Biblical doctrine of the Reformation (justification by faith alone), which established them as Evangelicals and Protestants, by now allowing others to use those names and surrendering to the worst inclinations of Calvinists, Pietists, and Roman Catholics. The uniting cause, to soothe every worldly conscience, is to declare that God in his grace has already declared the entire world absolved of all sins. … God declared the world righteous through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus…”.

Dr. Jackson quoted from the work of the 18th century theologian Georg Christian Knapp to show the false doctrine that flowed from universal absolution without regard to faith.

“This is conveniently expressed by the terms Objective and Subjective Justification. Objective Justification is the act of God by which he proffers pardon to all through Christ. Subjective Justification is the act of man by which he accepts the pardon freely offered in the Gospel.”

In a comment on page 56, Dr. Jackson succinctly elucidated the error of those who adhere to the doctrines of Objective and Subjective Justification:

“The false teachers reverse what Paul and Luther taught. The Objective Justification fanatics lay hold of universal forgiveness and make faith in Jesus irrelevant. Faith in Christ has nothing to do with their divine declaration of forgiveness. Secondly, their subjective justification is not faith in Christ, but rather trust in the truth of universal forgiveness.”

As a Lutheran layman, I know that the idea that God forgave the sins of every member of the human race upon the death or resurrection of Christ and this made them righteous is not what Paul taught. Rather, he taught that God declares a person righteous after God imputes the person's sins to Christ, and he imputes the merits of Christ’s sinless life and perfect obedience to the person. Faith is the means by which a person receives righteousness. Is righteousness simply the forgiving of sins, as the Objective justification proponents claim? No. Righteousness requires God to impute the sins of the sinner to Christ, and the merits of Christ's sinless life and perfect obedience to the sinner. Only after this double imputation is a sinner righteous in God's sight.

The idea that “we need to accept the pardon offered by God” is not found in Paul's teaching. It brings to mind the famous Arminian preacher Billy Graham and his call to “Make a decision for Christ.”

I would recommend this book to someone who wishes a read a condensed version of Luther's Commentary on Galatians. It is an excellent introduction for someone who is unfamiliar with the Apostle Paul's doctrine on justification by faith alone. Dr. Jackson's comments highlight key doctrinal points in the text. His comments also illustrate the degree to which the doctrines of present-day confessional Lutheran churches have diverged from the plain teachings of the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther.

Dr Jackson discusses the problems of present day Christian denominations on his internet blog. Google ichabodthegloryhasdeparted for the URL. He conducts a weekly traditional Lutheran worship service via the internet, the blog has a link to the broadcast site which also has archived broadcasts.

Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2021
This is an epiphany for lovers of alternative church history. The author connects the dots and reveals many inconvenient details that he deduced from his careful reading of contemporaneous sources. The ball is now in the court of his detractors. Will they respond?

I am not holding my breath.

Walther, the American Calvin: A Synod Built on Felonies

No comments: