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The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church

ISBN: 9781441253866

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While other volumes are available that introduce readers to the theology of Martin Luther, this volume from two eminent Lutheran professors offers a unique approach. Rather than surveying traditional theological subject headings, they focus on two central ideas that informed the basic conceptual framework of Wittenberg theology.

The first presupposition concerns Luther’s anthropology. His well-known emphasis on justification by faith, or “passive righteousness,” described God’s grace. But Luther also emphasized a related aspect, the “active righteousness” of love that ought to shape and guide social relationships. The second presupposition concerns Luther’s focus on the way God works in the world through his Word—creative, incarnational, and sacramental. Taken together, Kolb and Arand find that these ideas formed a matrix that shaped the theological reflections of Luther and his disciples.

Twenty-first century Christians face significant challenges to their proclamation of the Gospel and to their existence as a faith community. Living in a tumultuous age, Luther faced equally challenging crises. His theological emphases, which are described and considered in this perceptive study, have much to offer contemporary pastors and theologians who seek to construct their own formulations of God’s message for the present age.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Resource Experts
  • Provides penetrating insight into gospel logic
  • Reflects on Martin Luther’s Contribution to today’s church
  • Examines Martin’s theology in a fresh and innovative way
  • Part 1: “Our Theology”: Luther’s Definition of the Human Creature through “Two Kinds of Righteousness”
    • Luther’s Anthropological Matrix
    • The Core of Human Identity
    • The Shape of Human Performance
    • The Subversion of Our Human Identity
    • The Dynamic of Faith
  • Part 2: When the Word Is Spoken, All Things Are Possible: Luther and the Word of God
    • The Functions of the Word
    • The Enfleshed and Written Forms of God’s Word
    • The “Means of Grace” as Forms of God’s Word
    • God’s Word Takes Form as His People Convey It to One Another

Top Highlights

“Producing guilt or shame is not the goal of the proclamation of God’s law. Guilt and shame are facts of fallen life, but the gospel has come to abolish them. The goal of pronouncing God’s judgment is the death of idols, the death of false faiths, the death of sinners, so that life from Christ may triumph.” (Page 153)

“God’s Word creates reality, and God’s Word of forgiveness creates the identity of being God’s child, an identity that brings with it expectations of performance of God’s will.” (Page 156)

“Because human life in this world stumbles over temptation and tribulation of many kinds, faith also needs constant reinforcement through the Word of promise. In such times believers are called to flee to Christ’s bridal chamber. There Christ alone reigns, and he ‘does not terrify sinners and afflict them but comforts them, forgives their sins, saves them. Therefore let the afflicted conscience think nothing, know nothing, and pit nothing against the wrath and judgment of God except the Word of Christ, which is a Word of grace, forgiveness of sins, salvation, and life everlasting.” (Page 143)

“That is why the answer to every religious question is, ‘Why do you want to know?’ We have to know why people are asking, the question behind or beneath the voiced question, before we know which of God’s topics, identity or expectations, is on the immediate agenda—which of God’s words, law or gospel, needs to be spoken.” (Page 158)

“existence. The battle between the old Adam and the new Adam resembles the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Just” (Page 127)

Aside from a few slogans and provocative quotes, Luther’s theology is largely unknown in the land that Bonhoeffer called ‘Protestantism without the Reformation.’ Christianity in America desperately needs the wisdom and penetrating insight into gospel logic that is winsomely introduced in this rewarding volume.

Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

This eminently readable volume marks a high point in theological reflection on Martin Luther’s contribution to today’s church. Eschewing standard topical analyses that have often distorted Luther’s thought, the authors—in essays focusing on God’s twofold righteousness and God’s powerful Word—have uncovered the very core of Wittenberg’s theological revolution in a winsome, nondefensive manner. They thereby provide a radically new perspective on contemporary Christian faith and witness. This book is an invaluable tool for preaching, teaching, and learning the faith.

Timothy J. Wengert, Ministerium of Pennsylvania professor of the Reformation history, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Kolb and Arand have provided a great service to all who seek a deeper understanding of reformational theology. The Genius of Luther’s Theology is a fresh and innovative examination of the heart of Luther’s theology. This book makes Luther more understandable and thus more usable for readers of all levels.

—Jack Preus, executive vice president for mission advancement, Bethesda Lutheran Communities

Stressing Luther’s theological anthropology and his view of the living and active Word of God, Kolb and Arand have given us a useful, pertinent, and contemporarily significant introduction to the genius of the great reformer’s thought. This book is a valuable contribution to Luther research.

—Lawrence R. Rast Jr., professor of historical theology, Concordia Theological Seminary

Charles P. Arand is a professor of systematic theology and holds the Waldemar and June Schuette Chair in Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author of That I May Be His Own: An Overview of Luther’s Catechisms and Testing the Boundaries: Windows to Lutheran Identity.

Robert Kolb is Emeritus Mission Professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Among his many publications are The Book of Concord and Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith.


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  1. Rev. Robert Sundquist


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