2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Now, many evangelicals might assume this would be the perfect time to grab a bottle of champagne and in gratitude toast the legacy of our spiritual forefathers. Yet before the party has even begun there has been a steady stream of publications by both Protestant and Catholic authors who have in fact lamented the Reformation — asserting that some of the biggest problems we face in the world today (secularism, church schism, pervasive skepticism, etc) are all the “unintended” but nonetheless necessary outworkings of the Reformation.
While the literature on this subject is vast and beyond the scope of being worked out on any blog (especially this one!), we will be considering two soon-to-be released works by two of North America’s leading Reformed theologians — Peter Leithart and Kevin Vanhoozer — both of which have come to us here in Southborough courtesy of the good people at Brazos Press.
Leithart, who runs the Theopolis Institute, has an astounding range of interests and expertise, having published on 1 & 2 Kings, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constantine, the Atonement, Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life, and the intellectual history of Gratitude, just to name a few. In his new book provocatively titled The End of Protestantism: Pursuing Unity in a Fragmented Church, Leithart directly confronts the reality of Protestant denominationalism in North America by playing on the dual meaning of “end” — both something’s conclusion, but also its original purpose. Here’s a quote:
Vanhoozer, who teaches systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is a fascinating theologian. I was recently told a story that in the not too distant past an academic publishing house put out “Theologian” trading cards as a bit of a joke for theology nerds. In the pack among such giants of church history as Augustine, Irenaeus, John Calvin and Karl Barth was Kevin Vanhoozer — the only living theologian for whom they made a card. Now, I’m not exactly sure what kind of compliment that is, but it must have been flattering. Vanhoozer’s new book Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity is a fresh articulation and defense of the Reformation’s five solas (grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone, in Christ alone & for the glory of God alone). In particular Vanhoozer spends a significant time defending the Reformation principle of scripture alone as it has come under heavy criticism in the last few decades as promoting “interpretive chaos” in the church. Here’s a video clip of Vanhoozer talking about this book (if you are reading this on email you might have to click to our blog to watch it):
Be on the look out for more extended engagement here on the blog with both of these significant works on the legacy of the protestant reformation in the coming weeks.
Again, both of these books were given to us for free from Brazos Press in exchange for an honest engagement and review.