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Justification: The Chief Article of Christian Doctrine As Expounded in Loci Theologici [Hardcover]

Justification: The Chief Article of Christian Doctrine As Expounded in Loci Theologici [Hardcover]

By Martin Chemnitz (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   200
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1996
Publisher   Concordia Publishing House
ISBN  0570042275  
EAN  9780570042273  

Availability  0 units.

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Justification: The Chief Article of Christian Doctrine As Expounded in Loci Theologici by Martin Chemnitz

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A comprehensive treatment of justification  Jan 10, 2000
On what basis does God take away his wrath from sinners? Do they need to become (in any sense whatsoever) objectively worthy before he can take away his (entirely justified) wrath from them? Or does God love sinners entirely and only on the basis of what Christ did for them? This book presents the Lutheran responses to these question, and argues that it is both true, Biblical, and has been taught in the church in all ages.

The volume is an excerpt from a larger summary of theology, the Loci Theologici, written by Martin Chemnitz, a German theologian of the late 16th century. (The original is in Latin, and J.A.O. Preuss did the translation into English). Called the "Second Martin" (after Martin Luther), Martin Chemnitz played a crucial role in clarifying how those Christians now called Lutherans understood God, man, Christ, and salvation. Sometimes they had to defend their convictions against Calvinist or Reformed ridicule, and other times they had to defend them against Roman Catholic anathemas. In this book, Martin Chemnitz presents the doctrine of justification by faith alone and defends it from the attacks slung at it by Roman Catholic theologians from Luther's time through the Council of Trent. And despite ecumenical statements to the contrary "from the top", many Roman Catholic writers still ridicule this inexpressibly comforting doctrine.

This book is serious theology, but even those with only catechetical or amateur theological background (like myself) can read it with great profit and understanding. Be warned though, it takes place within a traditional Christian "conversation" of theology that takes a lot for granted. If you think for example the question I started out with (how can God remove his wrath from sinners?) is a bad question, that God's wrath is an outmoded, primitive, repressive concept, you will find this whole book pointless (as Chemnitz himself notes). For those who sincerely ask, how can I get right with God?, this book will prove to be surprisingly readable.

Chemnitz starts most chapters by quoting from the Loci Communes or theological textbook of Phillip Melanchthon. These citations are themselves a gem, and Melanchthon is at his best on this topic, showing he knew first hand the comfort that justification by faith alone gives to those stricken by their guilt before God. Chemnitz then carefully explains basic terms, like "faith," "grace," and the "exclusive clauses" such as "without the works of the law," "freely," etc. He thus defines what Lutherans believe on justification against common misconceptions that others had (and have)about it, and defends these beliefs as Biblical and giving comfort to sinners and glory to Christ.

One of the most pleasant aspects of "Justification" is the absence of mockery and insult so common in Reformation-era controversial works. Proponents of Roman Catholic views will find a rigorous defense of Lutheran positions, but no cheap shots or name-calling.

One unfortunate feature of this abridged translation is that Chemnitz's originally extensive discussion of the church fathers was ruthless cut in this popular version. To cut it almost all out, rather than just pare it down somewhat, was a serious mistake on the part of the editors (and the reason I give it only four stars, not five) since the idea that "all the church fathers rejected justification by faith alone" is at the heart of contemporary Roman Catholic attacks on justification by faith alone

Chemnitz concedes that many church fathers indeed wrote as if God's favor was partly dependent on human merit, but notes on the other side that many, particularly Ambrose, also strongly upheld justification by faith alone, and that in their devotional works the fathers wrote far more correctly than they did in their philosophical works.

The core of his defense, however, rests on the Biblical record, both Old and New Testament, and his treatment of it is marked by deep scholarship, lucid definitions, and natural unforced reading of the passages. Thanks to J. A. O. Preuss and Concordia Press for making this great theologian speak English as well as Latin.

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