A Recommendation for those new to these issues
"There is so much to learn. Where do I start?" I've heard this kind of comment many times when it comes to the doctrines of the Reformation. Many established Christians have never been exposed to these central issues in our day, and when they are, the whole experience can be more than a little overwhelming. Not only are highly technical theological phrases bandied about with great regularity but Latin ones at that! Sola Scriptura; Sola Gratia; Sola Fide; Solus Christus; Soli deo Gloria... simil iustus et peccator... err.. Excuse me? Your what hurts?
Hearing this new language without the aid of an interpreter can cause many folk to just give up on the whole thing... But wait! I believe with all my heart that these issues are not just for academic theologians. These are vital issues for all of us. One of the chief purposes of God in the Reformation was to get both Scripture and a true understanding of its teachings into the hands of ordinary people. So, before you give up or throw in the towel, my counsel would be, "hold on brother/sister... help is on the way!"
Last year I had the privilege of teaching a course on "the history and doctrines of the Protestant Reformation" in a Bible College setting. For many of the students, the subject was a completely new one. My challenge was to find course material that would be accurate, insighful and perhaps, just as important, it had to be readable. I believe I found exactly that by using two of Dr. James Montgomery Boice's books:
1. "Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace?"
2. "The Doctrines of Grace"
The students devoured these two books. Many told me that the books were read more than once. I frequently heard comments such as "I never knew what the issues were before, but now I do" or "now I see what all the fuss is about." If you find yourself a little bemused over all there is to learn, and desire a sure and safe guide regarding the doctrines at the heart of your Christian faith, I would strongly recommend these books to you.
Also, back in December I posted an article here on the blog which was a concise overview of the five solas of the Reformation. Here on the web site we have new people visiting the site quite frequently. Though I would very much recommend that people read the Boice books (above), this article found here might also be a good starting point.
In the grip of His grace,
Pastor John Samson