A Lutheran Response to Justification: Five Views

—by Jordan Cooper

 If one were asked to explain the distinctiveness of Lutheran theology within the church catholic, one word would likely come to mind: justification. If one aspect of doctrine defines Lutheran theology over against other theologies, it is the centrality of justification by faith alone. This issue, described by Luther as “the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls,” was the heart of the conservative Reformation and remains so within churches of the Augsburg Confession. This being the case, it is surprising that the recent volume Justification: Five Views,1 neglects to include a Lutheran contributor. The editor explains that this is because Michael Horton’s confessional Reformed approach is thought to encapsulate confessional Lutheran approaches to the doctrine.2 Despite the similarities however, Horton’s essay fails to display the uniquely Lutheran approach to justification as it is expounded upon in Luther’s Galatians commentary and explained and defended in the Lutheran Confessions. This article is an attempt to bring a Lutheran voice into this dialogue, offering a unique and biblical approach to Paul’s theological concerns in Galatians and Romans...




1. James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy et al, Justification: Five Views (Westmont, IL: IVP, 2011). Contributors to the volume of essays include Michael S. Horton, Michael F. Bird, James D.G. Dunn, Veli-Matti Karkainen, Gerald O’Collins, and Oliver Rafferty.

2. “Horton’s traditional Reformed view is functionally identical in all the significant theological aspects to the traditional Lutheran view.” Justification, 10.