$40.50 $45.00 Save 10% Current price is $40.5, Original price is $45. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, March 2
5 New & Used Starting at $31.69


Offering readers a comprehensive summary of the major tenets of Reformation theology, this volume convincingly demonstrates the Reformation’s enduring importance for the church today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433543289
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 03/31/2017
Pages: 784
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and the host of the Credo Podcast. He is the author of several books, including None Greater; 40 Questions About Salvation; God’s Word Alone; and Owen on the Christian Life. He is the editor of The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls and Reformation Theology.

Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California. In addition to being the author of many popular and academic books, he is also the editor in chief of Modern Reformation magazine, a host of the White Horse Inn radio broadcast, and a minister in the United Reformed Churches.

Gerald Bray (DLitt, University of Paris-Sorbonne) is research professor at Beeson Divinity School and director of research for the Latimer Trust. He is a prolific writer and has authored or edited numerous books, including The Doctrine of GodBiblical Interpretation, God Is Love, and God Has Spoken.

Graham A. Cole (ThD, Australian College of Theology) is the dean and professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. An ordained Anglican minister, he has served in two parishes and was formerly the principal of Ridley College. Graham lives in Libertyville, Illinois, with his wife, Jules. He is a member at Church of the Redeemer in Highwood, Illinois.

J. V. Fesko (PhD, University of Aberdeen, Scotland) is the academic dean and professor of systematic and historical theology at Westminster Seminary California. He was the pastor of Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Woodstock, Georgia, for ten years. J. V. lives in Escondido, California, with his wife, Anneke, and their three children.

Robert Letham (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of systematic and historical theology at Union School of Theology. A Presbyterian minister with twenty-five years of pastoral experience, he is the author of books such as The Work of Christ; The Holy Trinity; and Union with Christ, and a range of articles published in encyclopedias and journals.

Michael Reeves (PhD, King’s College, London) is president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in Oxford. He is the author of Delighting in the TrinityRejoicing in Christ; and The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation.

Scott R. Swain (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as president and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando Florida.

Mark D. Thompson (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the principal of Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, and head of the department of theology, philosophy, and ethics.

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College. He is an esteemed church historian and previously served as the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Public Life at Princeton University. Trueman has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including The Creedal Imperative, Luther on the Christian Life, and Histories and Fallacies.

Cornelis P. Venema (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, where he also teaches doctrinal studies. He is also an associate pastor of the Redeemer United Reformed Church of Dyer, Indiana, and the co-editor of the Mid-America Journal of Theology. He and his wife, Nancy, have four children and twelve grandchildren.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and the host of the Credo Podcast. He is the author of several books, including None Greater; 40 Questions About Salvation; God’s Word Alone; and Owen on the Christian Life. He is the editor of The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls and Reformation Theology.

Read an Excerpt

Reformation Theology

A Systematic Summary

By Matthew Barrett

Good News Publishers

Copyright © 2017 Matthew Barrett
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4335-4331-9


The Crux of Genuine Reform

Matthew Barrett

Here, then, is the sovereign power with which the pastors of the church, by whatever name they be called, ought to be endowed. That is that they may dare boldly to do all things by God's Word; may compel all worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey his majesty; supported by his power, may command all from the highest even to the last; may build up Christ's household and cast down Satan's; may feed the sheep and drive away the wolves; may instruct and exhort the teachable; may accuse, rebuke, and subdue the rebellious and stubborn; may bind and loose; finally, if need be, may launch thunderbolts and lightnings; but do all things in God's Word.

John Calvin

No other movement of religious protest or reform since antiquity has been so widespread or lasting in its effects, so deep and searching in its criticism of received wisdom, so destructive in what it abolished or so fertile in what it created.

Euan Cameron

Reformation as Rediscovery of the Gospel

Countless historians have gone to great lengths to explain the Reformation through social, political, and economic causes. No doubt each of these played a role during the Reformation, and at times a significant role. Yet most fundamentally, the Reformation was a theological movement, caused by doctrinal concerns. Though political, social, and economic factors were important, observes Timothy George, "we must recognize that the Reformation was essentially a religious event; its deepest concerns, theological." What this means, then, is that we must be "concerned with the theological self-understanding" of the Reformers.

But more can be said. Yes, the Reformation was a "religious event," and its deepest concern was "theological." But history is filled with religious and ethical reform movements that considered themselves theological in orientation. What distinguishes the Reformation, however, is that its deepest theological concern was the gospel itself. In other words, the Reformation was a renewed emphasis on right doctrine, and the doctrine that stood center stage was a proper understanding of the grace of God in the gospel of his Son, Christ Jesus. In part, this is what distinguished Luther from the forerunners of the Reformation. As Lindberg notes, referring to one of Luther's early sermons, the "crux of genuine reform ... is the proclamation of the gospel of grace alone. This requires the reform of theology and preaching but is ultimately the work of God alone." For Luther, explains McGrath, a "reformation of morals was secondary to a reformation of doctrine." While forerunners stressed the need for ethical reform in the papacy, Luther recognized that the real problem was a dogmatic one. The great need was theological; the "crux of genuine reform" had to do with the recovery of the gospel itself.

The Reformers believed that this gospel had been lost (or at least corrupted). Luther was convinced that Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism had spread like the plague, at least at a popular level, thanks to the influence of certain strands of medieval Catholicism. As Luther's conflict with Rome heated up, eventually erupting like a volcano, it became increasingly clear to Luther that the corruption of the gospel in his own day had resulted in the abandonment of justification sola gratia and sola fide, and vice versa. The consequences were grave. Luther warned at the start of his 1535 Galatians commentary that "if the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost." And again, "If it is lost and perishes, the whole knowledge of truth, life, and salvation is lost and perishes at the same time." Nothing less was at stake. Therefore, apart from a rediscovery of doctrines like sola fide and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, lasting reform would never take root. That being the case, it was undeniably obvious to Luther that his teaching, preaching, and writing had to revolve around the gospel, specifically its ramifications for justification by faith alone. As Luther wrote to Staupitz, "I teach that people should put their trust in nothing but Jesus Christ alone, not in their prayers, merits, or their own good deeds." This one sentence, says Scott Hendrix, summarizes "the essence" of Luther's "reforming agenda."

Of course, Luther's rediscovery of the gospel — which he called the "treasure of the Church" — was an experience Luther knew firsthand. Recounting his own personal durchbruch, or "breakthrough," Luther's testimony is powerful:

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, "As if, indeed, it is not enough that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!" Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.

In light of Luther's durchbruch, if we were to use but one word to characterize the Reformation, it might be rediscovery, that is, a rediscovery of the evangel, the gospel. It is right to conclude, then, that the Reformation was an evangelical reform at its root.

Nevertheless, even the word rediscovery assumes that the Reformers did not think they were inventing something new (contra Rome's accusation of novelty). Indeed, they were renewing, retrieving, and reviving what they believed had been lost. This lost gospel had been taught by the biblical authors, as well as by the apostles and church fathers. And since they insisted on reform not just in externals but also in doctrine, the Reformers became characterized by the theology behind that slogan Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda — "The church reformed, always reforming," even if the slogan itself was a much later development.

The Life of the Bible in the Soul of the Church

Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, however, did not address only soteriological matters (i.e., sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus). Rather, beneath this Reformation motto was the foundation itself, the formal principle of the Reformation, sola Scriptura — the belief that only Scripture, because it is God's inspired Word, is the inerrant, sufficient, and final authority for the church. Nowhere was this formal principle more visible for the common person than in the reorientation of the church around the preached and proclaimed Word.

One of the most shocking statements the Reformers ever made in response to Rome involved the rearranging of furniture in the church. Upon walking into a sanctuary, one could immediately tell the difference between a church still in the clutches of Rome and a church under the influence of the Reformation program. For Rome, the service revolved around the altar, but for the Reformers, the pulpit was given the position of priority. For Rome, the Latin Mass was the central event, but for the Reformers, it was the Word of the living God preached and proclaimed in the vernacular for the salvation and edification of the saints. Scott Manetsch provides insight:

Martin Luther's message that sinners were righteous before God through faith in Christ alone (sola fide) not only undermined the Catholic penitential system, but also cut at the root of the medieval priest's sacral role as a dispenser of salvific grace through the sacraments of the church. The Protestant reformers elevated instead the biblical office of the Christian minister or pastor, whose primary responsibility was to preach the Word of God and supervise the behavior of the spiritual community. ... That is not to say that late medieval Catholics ignored the ministry of preaching, nor that Protestant life and worship was empty of religious ritual. Historians now recognize a significant revival of preaching the century before the Reformation, most evident in the work of mendicant friars and the creation of municipal preacherships. At the same time, despite Protestant criticisms of Catholic "ceremonies" and "superstitions," and despite explosive acts of iconoclasm against Catholic images, the evangelical reformers preserved in modified form traditional rites surrounding the Eucharist, baptism, and reconciliation. Nevertheless, the general pattern still holds true: for Catholics, the primary role of the clergy remained sacramental and liturgical; for the Protestant reformers, it was to preach the Word of God.

Two very different theologies were pictured visibly. And they were so apparent that churchgoers no longer asked each other if they had been to Mass but whether they had been to the prêche ("the preaching").

In the late-medieval period, the sermon was not typically the focal point of the worship service, though this is not to deny the practice of preaching in the medieval church altogether. Instead, sermons were typically preached at specific points in the liturgical calendar, such as Easter or Christmas, or at specific locations, such as pilgrimage sites dedicated to the veneration of Mary and the saints. But normally, one would attend church expecting to listen to Mass being said, not Scripture being proclaimed. To hear a sermon in the late-medieval period meant leaving the walls of the church and instead traveling to the open field where one might hear a preacher (perhaps in secret). Such was the case with the Franciscan preacher Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) and the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), the latter of whom was excommunicated and then executed in 1498, just on the eve of the Reformation. The awful fates of forerunners and martyrs like Savonarola were vivid in Luther's mind as he traveled to Worms, wondering if he would come back alive or not.

Such a downgrade, however, was not limited to Luther's Germany; England suffered an expository drought as well. Describing life in the church prior to the Reformation, English Reformation historian Philip Hughes explains how "preaching had fallen into such neglect that it had virtually ceased to be a function of the Church." Hughes goes on to explain just how bad the situation had become. Clergy did not show up at their parishes, nor could one assume that a bishop would be personally involved with his diocese. Titles and offices could simply be purchased. Showing up in the flesh to feed the gospel to spiritually hungry churchgoers was unnecessary. Is it any surprise, then, that when real reform took root, the authoritative Word and the expository sermon became inseparable? It was inevitable that "the rediscovery of the Word of God involved the rediscovery of the necessity of preaching." Given the "decay of preaching" in England, Thomas Cranmer led the way by publishing the Books of Homilies, which were "to be read regularly in church by those clergy who were incompetent to preach sermons." Never designed to replace sermons, these homilies, explains Hughes, were a "temporary expedient to tide the Church over until such time as there should be an instructed and spiritual ministry."

What was so radical, then, about the Reformation was how the Reformers recovered the sermon by taking it from the obscurity and secrecy of the fields back into the service and liturgy of the church. Such a move was not done in secret but was conspicuous, visibly manifested in the literal elevation of a pulpit in the air, above the people.

For example, consider the well-known painting of a French Protestant church in Lyon by the name of Temple de Paradis. What catches one's eye in this painting is the pulpit, which is front and center, lifted up so that the preacher is seen and heard by all. The people not only are seated below but are seated throughout in the shape of a circle (or at least a half circle) around the preacher. The pulpit is the centerpiece. Children are also pictured sitting and listening, following along and ready to learn with their catechism books in their laps. The artist even places a dog (!) in the service, sitting as if he too is listening, his head fixed on the preacher. In front of the pulpit is a couple ready to be married, and to the left of the pulpit, preparations are being made for the baptism of an infant. The point in these details is that all these people and all these activities centered on and revolved around the proclamation of God's Word. They believed the Bible was God's message for them and to them, sufficient not only to save but also to guide one in a life of godliness. As the Word from God, therefore, it had to be proclaimed, heard, and obeyed. Indeed, it had to have the final say.

Or consider Saint Pierre's in Geneva, the church where Calvin preached and ministered, as well as the surrounding churches in that area. Calvin initiated a program that cleansed the church building from Roman distraction and idolatry, seeking to wash clean this sacred space. Statues of saints, relics considered holy, crucifixes, the tabernacle that housed the consecrated host, and the altar where the Mass was conducted were discarded and destroyed. The cleansing of anything that could lead to idolatry was so thorough that even the walls and pillars were whitewashed, hiding iconography that pictured Rome's unbiblical theology. With the church stripped bare, the sacred space could finally give priority to the preaching of God's Word. A wooden pulpit was crafted and fixed against a pillar at the front of the sacred space. The seats — for men, women, and children — were then situated around it, in front of it, and even behind it.

While the pulpit's centralized position was certainly practical, allowing large crowds to hear, its location was blatantly theological. "The proclamation of Scripture in the middle of the congregation," says Manetsch, "was a potent symbol that Christ, the living Word, continued to speak and dwell among his people." For Rome, the service was most fundamentally auditory. In contrast, while the Reformers believed that the Eucharist played an essential role in the service as a means of grace (all the while affirming a very different sacramental theology than Rome), nevertheless, front and center was the gospel inscripturated, and its pages they read, prayed, sung, and exposited. Not only was the Word sung by the congregation via the Psalms, but the Word was also exposited for all to hear, typically by means of the lectio continua method. When the congregation gathered in Saint Pierre's, Calvin was convinced that it was through the Word that the Spirit created worship — in spirit and in truth — within the hearts of the listeners (John 4:24): "Through the ministry of the written and proclaimed Word," says Manetsch, "the Spirit solidifies the faith of God's people, calls forth their prayers and praise, purifies their consciences, intensifies their gratitude — in a word, guides them into spiritual worship." As Calvin said, "God is only worshiped properly in the certainty of faith, which is necessarily born of the Word of God; and hence it follows that all who forsake the Word fall into idolatry." For Calvin, preaching God's Word was a means to true worship and a safeguard against idolatry, specifically the idolatry previously performed under Rome.

In all this we cannot miss the critical point: preaching was a means of grace, a sacrament, in fact. For the medieval church, George explains, preaching "was attached to the sacrament of penance," and therefore preaching "itself was not considered a sacrament, but it was, we might say, a vestibule to the sacrament of penance." The job of the preacher was to move his listeners to contrition, confession, absolution, and then to works of satisfaction. As Luther saw in Tetzel's fiery sermons on purgatory, at a popular level the oral word was meant to create unbelievable anxiety so that penance would follow. "Why are you standing there?" asked Tetzel. "Run for the salvation of your souls! ... Don't you hear the voice of your wailing dead parents and others who say, 'Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me, because we are in severe punishment and pain. From this you could redeem us with small alms and yet you do not want to do so.'" Hearing sermons like this one impelled listeners to quickly and fearfully throw their money into the coffer.


Excerpted from Reformation Theology by Matthew Barrett. Copyright © 2017 Matthew Barrett. Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue: What Are We Celebrating? Taking Stock after Five Centuries Michael Morton 13

Abbreviations 37


1 The Crux of Genuine Reform Matthew Barrett 43

Part 1 Historical Background to the Reformation

2 Lute-Medieval Theology Gerald Bray 67

3 The Reformers and Their Reformations Carl R. Trueman Eunjin Kim 111

Part 2 Reformation Theology

4 Sola Scriptura Mark D. Thompson 145

5 The Holy Trinity Michael Reeves 189

6 The Being and Attributes of God Scott R. Swain 217

7 Predestination and Election Cornelis P. Venema 241

8 Creation, Mankind, and the Image of God Douglas R. Kelly 283

9 The Person of Christ Robert Letham 313

10 The Work of Christ Donald Macleod 347

11 The Holy Spirit Graham A. Cole 393

12 Union with Christ J. V. Fesko 423

13 The Bondage and Liberation of the Will Matthew Barrett 451

14 Justification by Faith Alone Korey D. Maas 511

15 Sanctification, Perseverance, and Assurance Michael Allen 549

16 The Church Robert Kolb 577

17 Baptism Aaron Clay Denlinger 609

18 The Lord's Supper Keith A. Mathison 643

19 The Relationship of Church and State Peter A. Lillback 675

20 Eschatology Kim Riddlebarger 721

Contributors 757

Name Index 762

Subject Index 769

Scripture Index 780

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Dr. Barrett has gathered a full stable of blue-ribbon theologians for this winning volume. All the essays are carefully contextualized, the Reformers judiciously selected, and the bibliographies thoughtfully assembled. Some chapters are especially notable for the breadth and depth of the author’s research, others for their adroit summaries of complex themes. There is little doubt that Reformation Theology will ably serve the church and academy as a textbook for students and a reference work for scholars. It is already reshaping my own teaching on late-medieval and early-modern theology, and I commend it heartily.”
Chad Van Dixhoorn, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, Confessing the Faith and God’s Ambassadors

“This delightful volume is a breath of fresh air in Reformation studies, putting theology back at the center. It shows with crystal clarity how the Reformers expounded the heart of the Christian faith, and why these evangelical doctrines still matter so much.”
Andrew Atherstone, Latimer Research Fellow, Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford

“This rich book takes up the challenge to think beyond 2017 and does so in a very stimulating manner. Each of the contributors is an expert in his field and knows that the Reformation is a highly relevant treasure for both the church and theology. They convincingly encourage the readers to think through this treasure and adopt it. Everyone eager not just to look back at five hundred years of reformation but also to look forward finds here the perfect material.”
Herman Selderhuis, President, Theological University Apeldoorn, the Netherlands; Director, Refo500; President, Reformation Research Consortium

“Dr. Matthew Barrett has assembled a first-rate team of pastors and scholars to write an anniversary volume of the Reformation that promises to receive a welcoming readership across a wide spectrum of the evangelical community. At a time when some are suggesting that for all practical purposes the Reformation is ‘over,’ Barrett’s Reformation Theology offers a needed corrective by showing the relevance of the Reformation for healthy church ministry and the Christian life today.”
Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

“This collection of essays is both necessary and appropriate. It’s necessary because the issues addressed mattered then and matter now. It’s appropriate because this is how we best remember our past and honor the Reformers. The Reformation is our pivot point in the past, and the issues it addressed remain the pivot point for church life and discipleship.”
Stephen J. Nichols, President, Reformation Bible College; Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries; author, Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought and The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World

“A superb collection of first-rate essays on Reformation theology—one of the best I have seen. A welcome addition to the swell of literature in this year of Reformation remembrance.”
Timothy George, Research Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“An anniversary is a great moment to do a book like Reformation Theology. And with the passing of time, Reformation truths and the importance of the Reformation as a milestone in church history get forgotten—incredible as that sounds. But it is true. Perhaps we should not be surprised. How many times in the Old Testament do we read that the Israelites ‘forgot’? So I am enthusiastic about Reformation Theology.”
David F. Wells, Senior Distinguished Research Professor of Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“Matthew Barrett is certainly to be congratulated on bringing together this outstanding group of top-tier theologians and Reformation scholars to produce this wonderful resource. Not only are readers given a masterful survey of historical theology illuminating the key reformational themes of the sixteenth century, but also we are provided thoughtful and insightful guidance to wrestle with the important theological issues facing the church in the twenty-first century. I am delighted to recommend this comprehensive work.”
David S. Dockery, Chancellor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Reformation Theology promises to be an influential book indeed. Written by recognized historians and theologians, this volume aims to clearly articulate the teaching of the Reformers according to traditional theological categories. It is a genuine contribution and a great read besides.”
Fred G. Zaspel, Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church, Franconia, Pennsylvania; author, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel

“Nothing would benefit American evangelicals more than a real rediscovery of the Reformation—not a superficial regurgitation of the familiar talking points but a powerful, experiential encounter with the learned depth, wisdom, humility, piety, and practical know-how of our Reformation forefathers. A volume like the one Dr. Matthew Barrett has put together is a big step in the right direction.”
Greg ForsterDirector, Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches, Trinity International University; author, The Joy of Calvinism

“The lineup of authors in Reformation Theology and their respective topics reflect the very best in Reformed evangelical scholarship. The book should be of widespread interest. Not only would seminary and college students find the volume profitable in their studies, but all informed Christians would benefit from the essays.”
W. Andrew Hoffecker, Professor of Church History Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary

“A clear articulation of one’s Reformed faith requires familiarity with the ideas and events in which that faith is rooted. Unfortunately, there are few books on the subject currently in print that are both learned and accessible. Thankfully, this volume offers an outstanding solution to this problem.”
Chris Castaldo, Pastor, New Covenant Church, Naperville, Illinois; author, Talking with Catholics about the Gospel; coauthor, The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants after 500 Years

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews