Monday, October 29, 2012

Piper on Luther (also Augustine and Calvin)

In the spirit of celebrating the upcoming Protestant Reformation -
John Piper's excellent message/lecture on Martin Luther: "Lessons from his life and labor".

This became one of the chapters in his book, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, on Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.  This is an excellent book on introducing the main issues with the lives and significance of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.

see also Piper's lecture on Augustine: The Swan is not Silent.

Piper's lecture/message on John Calvin: The Divine Majesty of the Word.


Ken said...

It was a great encouragement to listen to Piper's message on Luther again this morning.

What Piper said about

1. Luther and his "beating on the text of Paul's (Romans 1:17) and not letting go. like Jacob to the angel - "I will not let you go until you bless me"

2. That Luther said "without [the Biblical Hebrew and Greek) the languages, the gospel is lost"

3. that Luther realized his helplessness and powerlessness with God giving him insight - a spur to fervent prayer while we study.

4. Reminder about his debate with Erasmus on the bondage of the will.

those points were excellent reminders.

Scott said...

It still amazes me to find Protestants using St. Augustine, a saint and doctor of the Catholic Church, as support or supportive of their theology.

Ken said...

Although Augustine got the imputation aspect of justification wrong because of his Latin emphasis and his lack of Greek and Hebrew knowledge, he got some aspects of "faith alone" right - that it is faith and not works that justify and that faith is a gift of grace given to us by God. And Augustine was clear on Grace before faith and the bondage of the will and Predestination and election.

In Augustine's, On the Spirit and the Letter, chapter 15 - seems to be one of the influences behind Luther's awakening as to what Romans and Galatians means.

"His words are, “The righteousness of God
is manifested:” he does not say, the righteousness of man, or the righteousness of his own will, but the “righteousness of God,”—not that whereby He is Himself righteous, but that with which He endows man when He justifies the ungodly. " On the Spirit and the Letter, from chapter 15

Nick Needham also has an excellent book of compilations from Augustine's writings on Salvation - The Triumph of Grace: Augustine's Writings on Salvation Grace Publications, Evangelical Press, London, 2000.

Ken said...
Nick Needham's excellent book, where he takes from all of Augustine's writings on the issues of Grace, the law, the bondage of the will, the freedom of the will, Predestination, Election, Faith, etc. It is very helpful for someone who doesn't have time to try and read and master all of Augustine.

Ken said...

As I wrote before:

As I have said several times before, your (James Swan) older post here on McGrath and Justification:

and the one you link to here at (below) may be two of the most important and crucial articles that you have written, along with the others that deal with Luther and his view of James and "Did Luther add alone to Romans 3:28?" - I am very grateful for your careful work on these issues! God bless you, James, and May He give you continued strength and grace!

Also, see James Swan's article here:

Martin Yee said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for pointing out those 2 cool links to Jame's post on Augustine. Btw I understand you are also a Reformed apologist. Can you also help to point to good sources to defend baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. Out Lutheran study group in Singapore is working on a response paper to defend infant baptism.

Thanks :)

Martin Yee

Ken said...

Thanks. I am Reformed in issues of God's Sovereignty, Election, Predestination (Ephesians 1, 2 Thess. 2:13; Romans 9), but I am a Baptist in matters of baptism.

Whenever I touch on the issue of baptism here, there is immediately generated lots of debate between us, as it seems many Lutherans visit this site. ( I wonder why? LOL)

Here is a recent article I wrote against the Roman Catholic ex opere operato doctrine of baptismal regeneration, but Joe and Steelikat and Brigitte (all three Lutherans) in the comment boxes came in to argue in favor for the Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration. I think it got more comments than any other thread I have seen here, at 248.

I mention some sources that argue in favor of the believer's baptism view. (Baptism in the Early Church, by Stander and Louw;

Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, Paul K. Jewett,

Beleiver's Baptism, edited by Schreiner and Wright; and

Fred Malone's A String of Pearls Unstrung, and

John Piper's chapter on baptism in "Brothers, We are not Professionals")

Joe in the comment box mentions some works in favor of infant baptism.

David Waltz mentions these in favor of infant baptism:
Baptism In The Early Church, Everett Ferguson, 2009, 953 pages;

Did The Early Church Baptize Infants?, Kurt Aland, English trans. 1963, 119 pages;

The Origins of Infant Baptism, Joachim Jeremias, English trans. 1963, 91 pages. "Ferguson's work it far and away the most comprehensive, and up to date, treatment on this subject, while the latter two are essentially a published debate between two brilliant NT scholars." (David Waltz)

Martin Yee said...


LOL. I thought all Reformed believe in baptismal regeneration and infant baptism like us Lutherans? Thanks for the comprehensive reply anyway. If you have time, would you mind me emailing you our group's draft paper in defense of infant baptism and receive your critique on it? I know we Asians are novices in theology compared to our American counterparts but may be we can learn a thing or two from you?Thanks in advance :)


Ken said...

I don't put out my email for all to get. But, if you put your paper up on your web-site - Lutheran Study Group, and let us know when you put it up and give a link, I may have time to read it.

But Joe and other Lutherans couldn't convince me after 248 comments on that post I linked earlier.

Oh, also, one of my personal friends, Gregg Strawbridge could not convince me either (we were in seminary together when he held baptist position and later changed to the infant baptism position; and we informally debated) - Gregg also has one of the best defenses of infant baptism (a book and compilation of many articles) - but I am not convinced.

Dr. White debated Gregg S. (on special web-cast DL program) and Bill Shishko and Robert Strimple and Gary Johnson. I thought Dr. White won all three debates with these Presbyterian brothers. Look at for those debates and google them.

Ken said...

Dr. Gregg Strawbridge's outline written defense of Infant baptism:

I think he since went on to write a full book on the subject - you can google and find it on Amazon.

Debate with Dr. White - Part 1 -

Part 2

This was also originally on a Web-cast Dividing Line program.

Ken said...

there is Gregg Strawbridge's full book at Amazon.

Martin Yee said...


Appreciate your kind advice and providing those links.