Martin Luther, and the Reformation in general, famously insisted that human beings are saved by the work of Christ “by grace alone (sola gratia), by faith alone (sola fide).” The insistence on sola gratia was already an old one, especially in the Western Church, having been championed by St. Augustine against the Pelagians, and so on that point the Reformers simply had to point the wayward Semi-Pelagian teachers of their own day back to that great Doctor of the Church. Of course that was a lot harder than it sounds, but sola fide was a harder sell, because although Scripture teaches “that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28), and the Fathers followed suit, Scripture also teaches that God “will render to each one according to his works” (Rom. 2:6), and the Fathers said that too. How to combine both teachings in such a way that the first statement (the Gospel) cannot be undermined and taken away by the second, is one of the hardest and most important problems in Theology, and the most characteristic and important contribution of the Reformation—particularly in its pure Lutheran form. But this can make it seem as if it was a new idea in the 16th century, contrary not only to the teachings of the Late Medieval Church, but also the Ancient Fathers. This is an accusation that the Reformers were quite keen to disprove. They were convinced, and worked to convince friend and foe, that their teachings had Patristic roots as well as Scriptural ones. If you are similarly convinced, or want to be, or even if you want to evaluate the claim from an antagonistic position, this seminar is for you.
The Weidner Institute has just released our latest publication Union with Christ: Salvation as Participation by Jordan Cooper which is part of the A Contemporary Protestant Scholastic Theology series.
Marcus Johnson says of this book:
"This book is excellent. By emphasizing the importance of union with Christ in the Lutheran tradition, Jordan Cooper is recovering a gospel reality without which the Reformation is nearly impossible to understand. Though sometimes neglected in contemporary Protestant theology and worship, the believer’s union with Christ was one of Luther’s own deepest theological commitments. I hope that a great many people read this book and, by way of its deep historical and theological learnedness, come to appreciate the inestimable significance—both for the Reformational tradition and for the contemporary church—of life in Christ Jesus.”
You can pick up your copy here.
With the COVID 19 Pandemic, the question of online celebrations of the Sacrament of the Altar have arisen. In particular, a document has begun to circulate titled "In Defense of Christian Assemblies Gathering on the Internet for the Purpose of Receiving the Sacrament of the Altar," which makes an argument for the validity of the practice. This paper is a response to each of the thesis presented in that article. The primary author of this document is Jordan Cooper, but significant input, argumentation, and editing was contributed by Lewis Polzin, Matthew Fenn, Lisa Cooper, and Eric Phillips.
Find the document here:
The Weidner Institute is now accepting submissions for two upcoming volumes in our Theological Essays series. The third and fourth volumes, to be released in the latter half of 2021, are on the following subjects: Predestination and Providence, and The Essence and Attributes of God. Proposals should be around 500 words in length, and must include an overview of the purpose and general argument of your proposed article. They should be sent to Contact@justandsinner.org, and will be reviewed by the series editors for consideration. Along with your proposal, please also include a sample of your writing, along with information about your titles/positions, and names of some of the sources you anticipate using in your essay.
A PhD, or a research Masters degree, is preferred for those submitting articles, but these are not required. The authors of the submitted essays are also not required to be Lutheran by confession, but the content of your article must be consistent with the Lutheran commitments of Just and Sinner. If you are not Lutheran, we would prefer that you would at least use some Lutheran sources in the content of your paper.
More information about these specific volumes:
Predestination and Providence
This book covers the doctrine of election as outlined in the Formula of Concord, which steers a middle path between strict double-predestinarianism and synergism. The following subjects are already covered:
- A history of the intuitu fidei controversy in American Lutheranism
- The development of Semi-Augustinianism in response to the Semipelagian controversy
-Adolf Hoenecke and Francis Pieper on Divine Providence
As each volume contains eight essays, we have five spots which remain available.
Some areas we are interested in on this topic:
-Comparative studies of the Lutheran doctrine of election and other approaches arising from the Reformation and Counter-Reformation
-Exegetical arguments in defense of universal grace
-Comparison between the Lutheran confession and medieval approaches (Aquinas, Lombard, etc.)
-Practical discussions of predestination and its application in pastoral ministry
-Critiques of contemporary formulations of election which differ from the confessional approach
The Essence and Attributes of God
This book will cover the tenets of Classical Christian Theism. We are especially interested in these four topics which have been highly debated throughout recent controversies: simplicity, immutability, impassibility, and atemporality. We desire engagement with, and responses to, influential thinkers who have rejected these classical distinctives (Barth, Jenson, Pannenberg, Moltmann, etc.).
We would like to address some of the following areas:
-Classical Theism in Patristic thought
-Medieval conceptions of Classical Theism and their adoption by heirs of the Reformation
-The Lutheran Confessions on the divine attributes
-Exegetical defenses of simplicity, impassibility, immutability, and atemporality
-Lutheran scholastic formations of the divine essence and attributes
-A response to Barth and the twentieth-century shift into actualist ontologies
-The reception of Platonic and/or Aristotelian philosophies in the formation of Christian Theistic language
-A discussion of univocity and analogical predication
We are open to other areas in the field as well.
Essays focusing on Trinitarian theology in particular will be published in a future volume.
The Doctrine of Justification: Its Reformation Formulation and Present Challenges
This course explores the classical Reformation formulation of justification in both its sixteenth-century and contemporary contexts. There is an emphasis on some recent theological movements which have challenged the traditional understanding of the doctrine, such as: the New Perspective on Paul, Gerhard Forde’s Radical Lutheranism, The Finnish approach to Luther interpretation, twentieth-century ecumenical dialogues, and Radical Orthodoxy. Throughout, the explanation offered on the doctrine by the heirs of the Reformation is defended as consistent both with Paul’s thought and with the early church.
Instructor: Dr. Jordan Cooper
Dates: June 8-12
Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm EST (Note: if you cannot make it live, we will send you a video of the course the following day)
To register for the course, purchase and include your email address. When the time is closer, you will receive an email with a link and password for the Zoom room.
Spots are limited, so register soon!
Download the syllabus for the course here:
Eric Phillips has pastored Concordia Lutheran Church in Nashville, Tennessee (LCMS), since 2014. He earned his BA from Cedarville College, an MA in Medieval Studies and MA/PhD in Early Christian Studies from The Catholic University of America (Washington DC), and his MDiv from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. He lives in Nashville with his wife Kristina and their three children.
Dr. Phillips will be providing seminars on the church fathers through the institute, as well as contributing essays to some upcoming projects. Stay tuned for more announcements!
Our first full course The History and Theology of Lutheran Scholasticism taught by Dr. Jordan Cooper, and our first evening seminar Thomas Aquinas and Johann Gerhard on Natural Knowledge of God by Dr. Nathan Greeley are now available for purchase!
These and future courses can be found on our new page here. Stay tuned for future exciting announcements from the institute on offerings for this Spring and Summer.
The Weidner Institute is offering the following seminar on Thursday April 16th from 8:00-10:00pm EST through Zoom.
The cost is $12.00. To reserve a spot, you must both pay via PayPal below, and also register with your email on our Google Form here so that we can send you a link.
Aquinas and Gerhard on Our Natural Knowledge of God
Taught by Dr. Nathan Greeley (Fellow of Apologetics and Philosophical Theology)
Often Luther’s Reformation is pitted against the thought of the Middle Ages, and there is much truth to this characterization. But it is not the whole story. Many elements of medieval philosophy and theology were retained by the Lutheran Reformers, and this inheritance only came to be more appreciated and utilized as time went on. In this seminar we will look at the thought of two monumental figures who provide clear and substantial evidence of this relationship—the medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and the Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard (1582-1637). Specifically, we will be examining and comparing what they have to say about our natural knowledge of God. As such, this investigation will cover what these two great theologians teach us about the following topics:
-the difference between natural and revealed knowledge of God
-sources of our natural knowledge of God
-the consequences of the fall regarding our natural knowledge of God
-arguments or proofs for the existence of God
-the uses or applications of our natural knowledge of God
Anyone with an interest in Lutheran theology, historical theology, or apologetics is encouraged to participate.
I recently hosted a webinar for pastors in the AALC on the use of technology in the church during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can find the video of that meeting below: