Luther strives for “gospel restoration”. Questions for Discussion: Lesson 28A Chapter 24 “Luther Rediscovers the Gospel & Divides the Church” from  The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson

1. Some historians of theology, including Olson himself, believe that it is possible to “sum up” Luther’s theology “in a nutshell”. Can you offer in your own words your  “nutshell” based on Olson’s insights, as well as those of Steinmetz, Althaus, and Oberman?

2. Luther’s theology has been described as one of “gospel restoration” that was intended to contrast with the dominant scholasticism of the late medieval period. How did Luther differentiate his Theology of the Cross from the Theology of Glory? Can you cite important Biblical foundations for his Theology of the Cross?

3. How might we relate Luther’s Theology of the Cross to the monergism-synergism/free will debate as well as the question of predestination? What would you cite in Luther’s theological reasoning that evidences the influence of John of Ockham and the Nominalist tradition?

4. According to Olson, Luther rejected the notion that believers must accept all passages in the Bible as offering equally valuable spiritual guidance. Who are some of the writers in the Bible who offer theology “of little or no value for the soul”? What specifically in these writers troubled him? How does this impact your own doctrine of inerrancy which we discussed last week? How would you tie his concept of the “external Word” to your notion of inerrancy?

5. How for Luther was God hidden? How did God reveal Himself? How do these ideas tie to the question of the origin of good and evil? Can you describe the reasoning that leads Olson to refer to Luther’s concept of God as being “Janus-like“?

6. How would you as a Lutheran define the Doctrine of Justification? What was the basis for the charge of antinomianism being leveled at Luther’s version of the Doctrine?

7. How did Luther’s reformed theology impact the role of 16th century priest? What did Luther’s concept of the Priesthood of All Believers really mean?  Luther’s Theology of the Sacraments called for radical changes. How did Luther’s theology alter the Roman Catholic Church’s Seven Sacraments? For Luther what qualified a rite as a true sacrament?

8. How would you differentiate Luther’s theology of the Eucharist from Zwingli‘s? How did their differing Christologies influence this debate?

See Lesson 28B for Correlated Readings

Bible Verses for Reflection


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