Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation
Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation  -     By: Nathan Busenitz
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Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation

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Was the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone an invention or a recovery? Nathan Busenitz proves that, in fact, this fundamental doctrine originates in Scripture and can be found in the works of pre-Reformation figures like Origen, Augustine, Anselm, and Bernard of Clairvaux. Through his critical engagement with opposing views and primary sources, Busenitz calls each of us to a deeper appreciation of the Reformation confession sola fide. Rediscover this truth that is not only rooted in Scripture but also carried up from the depths of the family tree.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 8 X 5.25 X .56 (inches)
ISBN: 0802418023
ISBN-13: 9780802418029

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Publisher's Description

Where was the gospel before the Reformation?

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book.

After reading Long Before Luther, readers will:

  • Possess a greater understanding of church history and the role it plays in the church today.
  • Have a deeper appreciation for the hard-won victories of the Reformation.
  • Be equipped to dialogue with Catholic friends about the presence of Reformed doctrines throughout church history.
  • Feel renewed gratefulness for the unearned nature of grace and the power of the gospel.

Author Bio

NATHAN BUSENITZ, (M.Div., Th.M., Ph.D., The Master's Seminary) is the Dean of Faculty and Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master's Seminary. He holds a doctorate in church history, with a specific focus on patristic theology. He has served as a full-time member of the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church, director of the Shepherd's Fellowship, managing editor of Pulpit magazine, and as the personal assistant to John MacArthur.

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  1. SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Reformers were not "original" in their view of salvation
    January 10, 2018
    SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz is book that examines history to demonstrate that the concepts of Salvation by faith alone, through grace aloneetc. were not invented by people like Martin Luther and John Calvin in the 16th Century, as some have claimed. Rather these concepts are very old, coming from the Scriptures themselves. As the subtitle of this book indicates, this book traces "the heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation".

    The book is divided into four parts, part one is, "The Reformers and Justification", which examines what the Reformers believed and where they discovered those beliefs in the Bible.

    Part Two deals with the "Church Before Augustine". "The Reformers looked primarily to Scripture to establish their understanding of justification by grace through faith alone, yet they also claimed secondary affirmation for their position from the writings of Christian leaders throughout church history." This section examines the beliefs of the early church (I don't feel comfortable/Biblical calling them "Fathers") in regard to justification by grace through faith apart from works, the forensic nature of justification, distinction between justification and sanctification and the imputation of Christ's righteousness.

    Part Three, "Augustine and Justification". This gives a close look at Augustine's beliefs regarding salvation. There is a whole section devoted to this because "The Reformers looked to Augustine more than any other church father in their defense of the doctrine of salvation by grace."

    Part 4 "The Church After Augustine" examines the beliefs of Christians who came in between Augustine and Luther.

    Though I think this is a very useful and well written work, I think that there is a more pressing issue in the church today, and that is an elevating the 'Reformers' too much. Actually, when I first decided to review this book, I was hoping that it was a critique of the near worshipful attitude of the reformers that many, in the church, particularly those who call themselves 'reformed', seem to possess. It's no wonder that people think the Reformation was the starting point for the 'doctrines of Grace', many professing Christian act as though the 'fullness of time' climaxed at the Reformation, that the faith we hold to originated at that time. And I critique myself when I say this. When I was younger I loved learning about the 'Reformers', tended to 'hero-worship' them, and what they taught, and collected quotes from them. At one point I ended up in a debate with an 'Arminian', over salvation/election, and he wanted me to stop using quotations by Luther, Calvin and other Christians and just debate by using the Scriptures themselves. I think that that was really helpful to me. And, in thinking back on it, it's rather embarrassing to think how I must have looked, appealing to the writings of many Christians to support my point, rather than primarily using the Bible as the sole authority. Rather than pointing people to the Reformation we should point back to the Formation. I'm not against the reformers and still admire God's work in and through them, but I think we really should start watching ourselves and make sure that we deal with any 1 Corinthians 3 scenarios.

    But I still like this book. Busenitz does an excellent job in giving written proofs that the 'doctrines of grace' were not invented by the Reformers. If anyone is struggling with an idea like that I would recommend this book. It's not very long, but it is quite a solid defense of the unoriginality of the Reformers. When it comes to salvation we don't want to be original, we want to be right in our belief - our eternal souls are at stake!

    Many thanks to the folks at MP Newsroom for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable).
  2. Nate Weis
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Excellent Resource
    December 26, 2017
    Nate Weis
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Regardless of whether it is celebrated or demonized, it is undoubtedly one of the most significant events in church history. Protestants memorialize it as the recovery of the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, if this gospel was recovered in the 16th century, where was it for the 1,500 years of church history prior to that?

    In Long Before Luther, Author Nathan Busenitz attempts to answer the question of the historical roots of sola fide, or the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This is a book I wish I had in my hands 6 months ago. I had the privilege of teaching a class on the history and theology of the Reformation at my church last summer. At the end of one lectures, one of the students asked me, What about the church before Luther? Were there Christians before the reformation? I now plan to find that person and tell them to read this book. The answer to that question is a resounding yes.

    This book is an invaluable resource because it assures Protestants that this is not a novel teaching. Martin Luther did not invent Justification by Faith Alone in the 16th century. Faithful Christians from all ages have believed and taught this doctrine. The Reformation did not invent this doctrine; it brought it back to the forefront after centuries of obscuring it in the medieval system of works-righteousness.

    This book is precise, carefully researched, fair, and engaging. Dr. Busenitz writes with clarity and avoids using unnecessary technical jargon. It is clear and concise without being unnecessarily long. You have to love a 160 page book with 40 pages of endnotes. This book is loaded with clear quotations from the early church fathers and medieval theologians that bear clear resemblance to the reformers teaching on salvation. If you didnt know who was writing, you would think they were coming from Luther or Calvin themselves!

    This book is an invaluable resource for Protestants, Catholics, laymen, pastors, seminary students, and much more. This book will open your eyes to the truth that the doctrine of justification by faith alone has a historical pedigree that cannot be ignored.

    I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
  3. Jenn
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Grace
    November 14, 2017
    Jenn
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Was the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone an invention or a recovery? This is the big question the author Nathan Busenitz asks and writes a book about titled, Long Before Luther~Tracing the Heart of the Gospel From Christ to the Reformation. So if that question and the title of this book peak an interest then get this book. The author definitely did his research and provides an answer that will leave you not doubting that "the truth of sola fide is authoritatively established in the Word of God and it is also affirmed throughout church history". The reformers knew this and it shows through the writings from vital theologians throughout history. They defended their position, first and foremost, by appealing to Scripture...and secondary they looked to church history. Without giving too much away, you will see the proof and how Luther and the other Reformers took a stand against the corruption of the gospel and started a great recovery of the gospel. Martin Luther said "If this article of justification stands, the church stands; if this article collapses, the church collapses." The author will show you through Scripture, various writings from Augustine, Ambrose, Origen, and many others from 100-1100 AD time frame, proof that faith alone stands not works based.
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