The Table Podcast

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock, Michael Svigel, and John Hannah discuss the historical context and essential values of the Protestant Reformation.

Timecodes
1:33
Hannah and Svigel’s interest in historical theology
3:10
What were Luther’s motives in composing the 95 thesis?
6:23
What led up to Luther nailing the 95 thesis on the Wittenburg Door?
8:35
Melanchthon and the Reformation
11:48
Zwingli and the Reformation
13:56
Erasmus and the Reformation
16:24
The Marburg Colloquy and perspectives on the Lord's Supper
18:59
Contrasting Zwingli and Luther's views of Lord’s Supper
21:51
Calvin and the Reformation
25:05
The major themes of the Reformation
27:48
Sola Scriptura
30:51
Sola Fide
37:20
Sola Christus
41:30
The priesthood of all believers
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, Executive Director at the Hendricks Center and also Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies here at Dallas Theological Seminary.

My guests are John Hannah to my left and Michael Svigel to my right and my topic is the 500th anniversary of the reformation. One of the very unusual things about this Table podcasts is that Dr. Hannah, as he is affectionately known, has been on our faculty longer than I have. I’m in my 35th year here at the seminary and he is in his 45th year here at the seminary. So Mike, how long have you been at the seminary?

Michael Svigel
Not that long. Almost ten.
Darrell Bock
Almost ten years. They both teach in theological studies. Now that was two departments when I was a student here that was historical theology and systematics. That’s now been combined. John is is a former chairman of the Historical Theology Department. They folded into Theological Studies.

These two gentlemen know a lot about the reformation, know a lot about history and theology so we’ve invited them in to help us think about, and to some degree, celebrate 500 years of Protestantism.

So John, start with you. How did you get interested in historical theology? What spurred you in that direction?

John Hannah
I think principally, Darrell, you follow people who impress you. I had a mentor who deeply loved the Lord and had a passion for the gospel and people and I wanted to be like him to some degree.

So I’m really interested in people, how they process knowledge, how they make decisions, why they make decisions. So it fit. It fit my discipline.

Darrell Bock
This was Ted Deibler who was the –
John Hannah
Yeah, Dr. Ted Deibler. Met him when I was 17. He gave me his job at 37. I buried him when he was 57. So we had 40 years in the wilderness together.
Darrell Bock
Dear, dear man. I had historical theology from him and really treasured his, including his singing. He used to open class with a hymn.

Mike, how about you? How’d you get an interest in theological studies?

Michael Svigel
That was great. I had always had an interest in both systematic, as well as historical theology and eventually ended up primarily in early Christianity, the Patristic period, but I had, as you did, Dr. Hannah, as a professor and he made history look fun and it really sparked my interest.

I never really thought of myself teaching those classes, but followed in those footsteps.

Darrell Bock
Well we’re gonna turn our attention now to certainly one of the most significant events in the history of the Christian church, the reformation.

Rumor has it that one day back in I guess 1517 if I do my math right –

John Hannah
October 31st.
Darrell Bock
October 31st to be exact. You know what time that was? Central Time? No, just kidding.
John Hannah
Daylight savings.
Darrell Bock
Daylight savings. I won’t go there. That 95 theses got nailed to a door in Wittenberg. We’ve all been to Wittenberg. We’ve seen that church. We’ve seen the memorial really that’s dedicated to those 95 theses, et cetera. Wittenberg is a fascinating place today to visit.

So what in the world possessed Martin Luther to do that and go against the Catholic Church?

Michael Svigel
The rumor, it’s interesting that you mention it that way, there are some scholars disputing whether the moment of nailing these theses actually occurred or whether that’s myth, but clearly the 95 theses was the spark that started the controversy. It was Martin Luther basically proposing some topics for disputation really –
Darrell Bock
It’s kinda’ like a Facebook post. [Laughs]
Michael Svigel
Kinda’. A little bit like that. More a disputation among scholars and it was delineating a number of concerns, especially around the sale of indulgences. This idea that the Pope had this ability to grant full forgiveness for sins with certain strings attached. Offering full forgiveness for various things being met.

So for instance, one of the complaints in the 95 theses was, well look, if the Pope actually has this power to forgive everybody, why doesn’t he do so. So there are these things that you can see really get under the skin of the Roman Catholic Church, especially at the time of – nobody did this. Challenged the authority of the Pope, especially drawing on scripture and theology and tradition. So it was a protest. This is why they’re called Protestants.

Darrell Bock
Now there’s a story about how Martin Luther came to this decisive moment that actually was part of a longer journey that he went through including very famous visits to Rome.

Another site that I think we’ve all been to is the site of the stairs by – what is it – St. John –

Michael Svigel
St. John’s.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, St. John’s. Which is supposedly the church for the Roman C versus the Vatican, if I’m not mistaken –
Michael Spiegel
The latter.
Darrell Bock
And watching and the experience that he had as he was going through that pilgrimage process was at least one of the events that’s talked about. What’s behind that? What led up to the nailing of the theses to the door?
John Hannah
I think our scholars are willing to say that Luther was on a sojourn in his own mind. It wasn’t a moment. I think he still had faith in the church when he nailed the 95 theses, but when he went to Rome, he received 10,000 years off Purgatory for the trip down to Rome and he could give it to anybody. He wanted to give it to his mom and dad, but they were still living. So he gave it to his grandparents.

When he got there he saw emptiness. He saw frivolity and that emptied his soul. Luther had a deep, guilty conscience. When you do what your teachers tell you or your father confessor and it doesn’t work, you become increasingly disillusioned. Of course, Thalpins gave him his job at Wittenberg as lecturer in Bible. There he got into Romans and Galatians and the Psalms. He found Psalm 22:1. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.

But Luther has many turning points so how to put your finger on it. I would say it’s gradual disillusion and gradual enlightenment until Melancthon, after the nailing of the 95, helped him to see clearly through the Book of Romans. It seems like Melancthon was the clincher, but he was well on the way.

Michael Svigel
There’s a great moment that Luther recalls as he is going through the discipline of climbing those sacred steps, gets to the top of those steps and apparently receives the indulgence and turns around and looks down the steps at all of these people climbing up and saying the prescribed prayers and this thought goes through his head. “How do we know that any of this is true?”

So you have this constant, nagging feeling that – one of authority, doctrinal authority and how do we know this is true.

Darrell Bock
You mentioned a name that’s important that I hadn’t necessarily anticipated mentioning, but now has been brought up is worth mentioning. Melancthon is obviously a very important and perhaps even underappreciated figure in the reformation. Is that fair to say?
John Hannah
Oh, I would think. There’s difficulties with Melancthon. Luther was a prophet type, opinionated, black and white type.
Michael Svigel
Good at tearing things down.
John Hannah
Yeah. But not as good at erecting a foundation thereupon. Melancthon was that man. He was an educated PhD what Ingolstadt University. He was a wise conciliator. He made wise decisions that I don’t think Luther’s personality was capable of. So you need a bull in a china shop to upset things, but you need someone to come along to put things in their proper place.

Of course Luther said – you know Luther – he said that the Book of James should be cast from a cannon and Melanchthon’s Loci should be placed in its place.

John Hannah
So we’ll leave that to debate.
Darrell Bock
Right. We’re alluding to the Loci Communist of course, which is the systematic theology that Melanchthon penned.
Michael Svigel
Melanchthon was much more the systemetizer. Much more the constructing the theology where Luther, he was a preacher.
John Hannah
Dogmatist –
Michael Svigel
Pamphleteer –
John Hannah
He saw clearly ______ —
Michael Svigel
Black and white even when it wasn’t.
Darrell Bock
We joked earlier about Facebook, but in very many ways Luther was a consummate communicator of the position that he represented and knew how to put it in the public square.
Michael Svigel
It helped that less than 100 years earlier, about 50 or so years earlier, the invention of the printing press.

Interviewee2; Literacy rate is rising. The printing press. When Luther nailed the 95 he was an Augustinian Hermetic priest, a very rigid, right wing type and he was calling for a debate. He wanted the issues on the table and he got them. I think he lost all three of his debates, but he always picks up friends and it’s very enchanting.

Then we believe that he wrote a pamphlet of some kind about every two weeks of his life. So he was committed to casting the idea out even though it wasn’t polished and that was his theory.

Darrell Bock
And he delivered it in a form and in a way that more than – well, that important people certainly could get their hands around, but more than that could get their hands around.
Michael Svigel
His followers and his students and everybody, they’re taking his things and spreading it far and wide. So they’re helping his purpose –
Darrell Bock
If you ever do a tour of any of the sites that are related to Luther where these things are on display, you can see how they’re very different than the things we think about as full books and that kinda’ thing. It’s very much not that.

Well that’s Luther and Melanchthon. Let’s come to the Swiss reformation and Zwingli. How does he come into the mix and then eventually we’re working our way, of course, to the famous meeting in Marburg.

John Hannah
Well, both are German speaking. They’re not alike in many ways. Zwingli is a trained humanist, Vienna. He has two pastorates before the Gross Munster, but we believe that his intersection with the reformation came largely from Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and from the early writings with Luther.

So he’s being exposed to these teachings and his last pastorate was in Einsiedeln, a little town just not far from Zurich where there was a pilgrimage center to the black virgin, which is still in that church and he began to criticize that so he chafes.

The city of Zurich took him. He had a strike against him. He had a benefit. The great benefit was he’s a tremendous orator. Strike against him, he was known for his promiscuousness. The city took him for his preaching, but they didn’t know that he had come to reformation ideas. So they got a man that they didn’t know they had.

Darrell Bock
So Zwingli is this person who the city got that they didn’t know what he believed.
John Hannah
But it’s a difficult – I think Luther criticized Zwingli because Luther basically took the position that if you’re right it doesn’t matter. You just say it.
Michael Spiegel
I think Zwingli was much more of a politician. I think you see his relationship, for instance, to the city council. The Father’s was much more of a negotiation with regard to reformation and it really dissatisfied Zwingli’s students who wanted to take things a little more rapidly.
Darrell Bock
Now there’s another name that came in the mix as you were talking about Zwingli that probably also should be put out on the table so people know where he fits in this almost chess match that we’re describing here and that is the name Erasmus, who obviously if you studied the history of this period is a dominant figure. Where does Erasmus fit in all this conversation?
John Hannah
Well, I think Erasmus agreed with Luther in many, many ways as to the reform of the church; educationally, recovery of the Bible, recovery of a more literal approach to reading the Bible.
Michael Svigel
Morals, some of the corruption there, he agreed.
John Hannah
Luther’s criticism of Erasmus is that while his work was good, he didn’t reach the heart of the issue, which was the nature of sin and the nature of human ability. So he scores him on that in bondage of the will.

But without Erasmus, I’m sure there would have been another, but without the giant that he was, I’m not so sure humanly speaking we’d have a reformation.

Darrell Bock
Interesting. So Erasmus produced an environment and a kind of protection for Luther that wouldn’t have existed otherwise and that set loose the trajectory that ended up in the reformation.
John Hannah
You can find in Spain, for instance, that translations of the Bible were made by prominent Roman Catholic bishops and priests, but they never made it to publication, but when Erasmus, he’s such an international figure, faculties would hire him full time for his name; not for his appearance. He was magic. Luther recognized that for his genius, but he thought he just missed the point.
Darrell Bock
Hm. Interesting.
Michael Svigel
Erasmus, of course, known primarily at this time for his published Greek testament. So this is what Luther was using in his translation of the German Bible –
Darrell Bock
So he was the consummate scholastic, Erasmus was.
John Hannah
Yeah.
Michael Svigel
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
In the end did Erasmus come out for the reformation or against the reformation?

Interviewee2; When the bottom line was drawn, he conceded his conscience.

Darrell Bock
Well let’s get to Marburg now. I wanna leave space for Calvin in this. So, what happened at Marburg and why is Marburg so important to the history of what happened with the reformation?
Michael Svigel
The Marburg colloquy was an attempt in the city of Marburg at the princess palace to get some of the leaders of the reformation, the Swiss reformation, as well as the German _______ —
Darrell Bock
How far down the road are we from Wittenberg –?
Michael Spiegel
Couple decades down the road. What year was the Marburg colloquy?
John Hannah
’29.
Michael Svigel
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Twelve years –
Michael Svigel
Twelve years later. The idea was if we can bring the Swiss and the German reformations together we can face the challenges of the Roman Catholic Church more unified and they were not able to pull it together. Came close, but there was a decisive issue that separated Luther and Zwingli in particular.
Darrell Bock
This is always unbelievable to me. This one issue is.
John Hannah
It’s the matter of the presence of the Lord in his table. I think when you see what is ultimately a minor issue in the world of greater issues, then you basically know that it’s not the issue.

I think the real issue is the obstinacy of Luther and the intransience of Zwingli who mutually just despised each other. One’s German, one’s Swiss, one’s more conciliatory and patient; the other is not. So you have these, like in life, you have these _______ personalities –

Darrell Bock
Two very opposite personalities.
John Hannah
Deeply so. Then you have Martin Bucer of Strasbourg who understands that we have a tremendous potential here of unifying the reformation. We have already had the first diet that granted, Speyer, that granted freedom to the Lutherans, but it was three years later.

So we know there’s cataclysm coming. How do we survive. So Bucer is your grand biblical ecumenist in the best way and he orchestrates bringing these minds together, both reluctantly really. I think they were really shocked when they agreed so much until the last point.

So the issue I don’t think is the last point simply because later Lutherans did not all agree on the extremity of his view.

Darrell Bock
Interesting.
John Hannah
Melanchthon surely did not. They go for a spiritual presence view.
Darrell Bock
Let’s talk a little bit about what the actual issue is that is supposed to have been the sticking point.
John Hannah
Well, it’s literally the phrase what does it mean when the Holy Scriptures say this is my body. For Luther it meant that our Lord was – not that the elements, the wine and the bread, were transformed in a miracle. It’s that Christ was truly literally, corporally in the midst of this.
Darrell Bock
I call it the over, under, around and through view.
Michael Svigel
Yeah. In other words, there is a real physical presence of Christ in the elements in some sense.
Darrell Bock
So it’s a sacrament in the classic sense of that word.
Michael Svigel
Yeah. It isn’t Roman Catholic transubstantiation, but it is very close to this and Zwingli, he’s been characterized more as a rationalist. He clearly is taking that language more figuratively and he’s struggling with he doesn’t wanna lose a central place of the Lord’s Supper, but also you’re not really eating the body and blood of Christ. This becomes a major point.
Darrell Bock
Of course, probably besides the nailing of the 95 theses on the door, the second iconic moment besides maybe here I stand, I can do no other in the reformation is this supposed response of Luther in this debate in which he carves out the words of the text on a table and if I can paraphrase a modern debate, it all depends on what the meaning of is is –
Michael Svigel
Meaning of is is. Exactly. This is my body. So he said, “This is my body. The words of Christ are to stand and we take this literally.”
Darrell Bock
I couldn’t agree. So the unity didn’t happen –
John Hannah
It would be better to say they wouldn’t agree.
Darrell Bock
They wouldn’t agree and unification didn’t take place so the reformation –
Michael Svigel
Part of the disagreement, which is overcome later by both men’s followers, is that there is some shades differences —
Darrell Bock
Some space created for difference of opinion –
Michael Svigel
— space for allowable diversity on this issue. It’s not that they necessarily all come up with the same view, but they say, “Look, we can hold different” –
Darrell Bock
This isn’t worth fighting over.
Michael Svigel
Right. We can be united within this diversity –
John Hannah
This ______ is certainly more spectrum oriented than even the reformed tradition on that issue.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. When we mention Geneva, of course, we are moving towards mentioning the name that probably most people perhaps, besides Martin Luther, that most people are familiar with, John Calvin. Now where does he fit in this portrait of the emergence of the reformation?
Michael Svigel
We mentioned in the last segment that you had a ton of competing voices and people fighting and in many historians’ estimation, had it been left at that, the reformation would have spun into thousands of sects right away all with their, like you mentioned, national, social, theological agendas and in some people’s minds in a sense, Calvin is a “savior of the reformation.”

I think primarily thought the writing, publication of his institutes, which ingeniously they began translating and publishing in several different languages, you begin to have this international, multi-language in English, French, German, Latin obviously reformed or reformation theology. Maybe not that everybody was agreeing with it in whole, but there was a common point of departure. Held the thing together a little bit more cohesively so you could speak in terms of an international reformed theology –

Darrell Bock
There’s a point of reference for –
Michael Svigel
Right. I think that’s one of his main contributions.
Darrell Bock
Was it the multilingual nature of this that made it circulate so widely say in contrast to the Loci’s?
Michael Svigel
Besides that though it was just the nature of the writing itself. If you read, and I would encourage people to read through Calvin’s institutes, it is simultaneously devotional, it is practical, it is deep theology. He’s quoting scripture, church fathers. You can teach theology from it. It has so many uses and it is systematic and thorough. So the depth and the breadth, it’s –
John Hannah
In its context what it is is an apology to Frances the First of France that they should not be treating this movement the way they seemed to be treating it.
Michael Svigel
We’re Christian.
John Hannah
So it’s not a systematic theology. It doesn’t cover all the branches of theology. It begins with a political statement. It ends with a political statement. It is an attempt to systematize, organize what I would call historical and biblical theology. Not so much systematics because it’s an issue in a context and the context is the middle of the 16th Century roughly.
Michael Svigel
In a sense it’s an expedition of the creed, of the Apostle’s Creed so it’s tracing a narrative –
John Hannah
I think it has an enduring quality because Calvin writes so well. He’s a humanist in the sense that he believes that ideas need to be put forth, but they need to be put forth beautifully. So the literary cadence of it I think accounts not only for its content, but it accounts for the durativeness of that work.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. Well, let’s turn a little bit to the themes of reformation. I’m actually in two minds of how to handle this. Whether to talk about the themes and just list them or to do it through perhaps the most famous way the reformation gets talked about, which is through the Solas, the Sola Scriptura, et cetera.

I remember when I took my history course at the University of Texas and we went through the reformation that the two things that were put forward or two of the more prominent things that were put forward were the idea of – well, maybe there were three and this goes with the priest or the believer’s idea.

The idea of the priesthood of all believers which means that the religious experience for the person in the church is for everybody. That there’s no other mediator than Christ for the benefits and besides the priests or the believers, the way in which scripture was elevated by Protestants in contrast to the role of tradition, but tradition, if you read the reformers, they’re still citing a lot of historical material that goes outside of the scripture.

Then the third one is what I can only characterize as the popularization of the faith. The idea that this faith because of the priesthood of all believers, because the role of scripture is to play in faith and, of course, the emphasis on grace versus grace and works is another part of this, was it distributed the faith and made the faith relevant potentially to more people and put them on the same plain. Fair?

Interviewee2; I think so. I think when you look at what we call the Five Solas, they really are a statement. The reformation was a recovery. The reformers believed that what they were involved in was the recovery of a biblical gospel that had been encrusted with tradition and error over at least the immediate centuries. That’s one side of it.

But really it’s a massive cultural reformation that reaches down into life. So it’s huge. The very fact that it’s lasted up to five centuries, which I think now is waning. The world view is but gone, but that’s an enormous testimony to the power of their ideas.

Darrell Bock
Well let’s go through the Solas. I don’t know if I can do this from memory or not. The first one is Sola Scriptura.
Michael Spiegel
We can get that one.
Darrell Bock
That one’s easy. So scripture alone. Let’s talk about that in light of the way that’s perhaps perceived versus the way it was actually practiced, which strikes me as not being quite the same thing.
Michael Svigel
Popularly understood in many evangelical circles, it means the Bible alone is our only source of truth, our Bible alone is our only source of spiritual truth, our only authority. It had a specific historical context and it really was answering the question what is the norming norm which cannot be normed. That was really the question it was answering.
Darrell Bock
What is the standard of the _______ –?
Michael Svigel
What is the final authority on all matters of faith. So this was in a context where you had papal authority competing with conciliar authority, the doctrinal practical authority of church councils. Of course there were mystics and others who were appealing to personal revelation or personal authority or is it scripture alone which is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice –
Darrell Bock
Solas Scriptura is I’ll tell you the Latin phrase that’s translated as Scripture Alone.
Michael Svigel
It is really a matter of authority. It’s not that the reformers were denying helpful insights and relative authority to the church fathers or to councils, et cetera –
Darrell Bock
They’re citing them like crazy.
Michael Svigel
They’re citing them and they are saying, “We agree with you.” Some of the early Protestant confessions say, “We agree with the first four ecumenical councils.”

Interviewee2; I would say that when we use the word, the Bible only, I think what they really meant because of the other three that follow it, is as it relates to the issue of the bind redemption. That this book explains what no other sources do.

Michael Spiegel
It relates to the sufficiency of scripture.

Interviewee2; The sufficiency of scripture and the wonder of divine forgiveness. You can read it. You can trust it. That’s in a context of contrary voices. Certainly Holcot and Biel taught a practical Pleganism.

Darrell Bock
So the pushback is against a variety of other things that are going on in the – I’ll use the phrase – incrustation of other things that are seen to be elevated to a point where the doctrine of redemption is becoming obscured.
Michael Svigel
In particular, the authority of the papacy and the magisterium as the sole authority that can interpret scripture. Ultimately if you hold to Sola Scriptura, the only final authority or inspired interpretation of scripture is scripture itself. So you have this you read scripture in light of scripture becomes its own interpreter. Whether that works out really well or not in the unfolding of the history of biblical interpretation is another question.
Darrell Bock
So that’s Sola Scriptura. I’m not sure if there’s a particular order to these or not. Let’s go next to Sola Fide, which I think is another important one.
Michael Svigel
Faith alone; by faith alone.
Darrell Bock
By faith alone. I’m telling you, this walks us into the faith and works debate to some degree. So where does that place? In other words, what’s the backdrop for that expression?
Michael Svigel
The question is is it faith alone or is it faith plus something else. You mentioned faith plus works, faith plus sacraments or also how is this faith working itself out.

The Latin phrase, by grace. Are you saved through faith. That text could be understood as by grace are you saved through faith, my belief or through the faith. They would interpret that as through Roman Catholic faith. So is it by grace distributed to you through the church and the sacraments.

The way this was understood was, no, it’s by belief and faith and trust in Christ in the gospel alone. Faith is the sole means by which this redemption comes to you.

Darrell Bock
The important thing here and I actually think we’ve never left this discussion in some ways because the whole issue of how faith works and how much of faith goes back to God and how much is a function of grace, how much are the fruits of the spirit a work in a – how will I say this – in an additional sense or are they a part of the faith?

All those discussions are a part of this conversation it seems to me, which we still have within the Christian church about how this faith manifests _______ and what exactly are we talking about when we say faith alone.

John Hannah
I think, Darrell, clearly faith is not a sacrament. Faith does not earn the product that it provides. That’s the major issue. So if these five solas deal with the contextual question of the nature of human redemption and the Bible only gives us the criteria of knowledge, it would seem to me that faith alone is the subjective criteria and that is one must embrace this object, this saving object.

Simply, I’ve always stumbled over faith alone. I think that’s a weak way in a way. The intent is to put the human factor into it, but the fact is you can’t choose an object that is infinitely unknown to you unless that infinite object is revealed to you. So that faith doesn’t make the object. Faith embraces the object that’s already revealed.

Michael Svigel
So all of these solas have to be understood working together.
John Hannah
Yeah, they have to –
Michael Svigel
So scripture alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and those really need to be understood together, especially to the glory of God alone. So it does tell a story in a sense and really you can’t really understand one of them without the rest.
Darrell Bock
Well, the hard part of this, it seems to me, what we’re talking about when we talk about the exercise of faith or the presence of faith and you can view it as a human exercise on the one hand and it certainly is the descriptive of the human subjective response, but you’re also talking about an enablement. The enablement to see. The enablement to grasp.

When I read Romans and I get to a summary verse, like Romans: 1:16 and 17, “For I’m not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God.” That word power is really about enablement. It’s really telling a story about God has enabled me to do something that I as a mere human am not capable of doing.

John Hannah
I think most of us would not debate the freedom of will. That is part of humanity. The question is what is the will able to do. Can it do what it does not know. Can it choose what is not available to itself.

The passive voice of the Holy Scriptures would tell us that faith is a response to the revelation of the beauty of a dying savior and it grasps him, but how to express it, how finitude grasps infinitude using the language of finitudes, human language, is just really impossible.

Darrell Bock
The other part of this that is fascinating to me, we could probably do a whole podcast on just this one point easily, and that is when we think about the product that comes out of that faith that God commends and that being called the fruit of the spirit, you can already see by that that God has not – I can say – excused himself from the process because he’s wrapped up in it. It’s a fruit that the spirit of God within us possesses and then God, out of his grace, gives us affirmation.
John Hannah
We could have a wonderful time just thinking about that passage in Galatians ‘cause the scholars relate to it differently, but it would seem to me that God is love, that Jesus is love revealed and love purchased and the Holy Spirit is the love of God through Christ granted to us.

So if we do have the real life of God, then it would seem to me that we would also have the character of God in finite form. So sanctification and justification are not dissected. They’re distinguished, but they’re not separated. All who are being justified so forth.

Darrell Bock
And of getting sanctified and glorified. That’s Romans 8.
John Hannah
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
So okay. Well I’ve gotta watch the time. I’ve gotta be a good manager here. Let’s go to Solo Christo. Christ alone. I’m gonna boil down this real quickly and say no other mediator. Fair enough?

Interviewee2; Yeah. That he alone is the one that provides for us salvation. Faith doesn’t make salvation. Christ makes salvation.

Michael Svigel
The gospel is about Christ, his person, his work, his death and resurrection. That’s the gospel –
John Hannah
He’s the objective cause of redemption.
Darrell Bock
Right. The context for that remark is that means it’s not coming through any other source put alongside Christ. So we’re not dealing with priests who have to give it or something like that.

Interviewee2; In the context of the reformation, it was taught people that Christ died a death that procured sufficiency of grace to save everyone, but he gave it to no one, but it’s a bank hanging in –

John Hannah
And the church has been given the keys to dispense that grace. So it’s a matter of obedience and control through the sacramental system, compliance and you get increments of that grace that Christ did purchase and when you have enough, if it’s not depleted by concupiscence, then you can trade it out for final justification.
Darrell Bock
Now there’s a word I don’t use every day.

Interviewee; I try to avoid that. I think I need special permission to use concupiscence.

John Hannah
Concupiscence is just a moral sense.
Darrell Bock
So your point is is that in the Catholic Church this was this what? Earning system would be a way to describe it –
John Hannah
Christ has done it all. But he has not given it all. He has given us help. He’s given us assist and grace. We must take advantage of that to be rewarded with charity, which gives us merit and we can cash that —
Darrell Bock
In contrast to that then, what’s the reformation doing?
John Hannah
The reformation is saying that Christ has purchased our redemption. In other words, the simple theological notion is is the grace of God incrementally dispensed by the criteria of obedience or is it totally once for all imputed.
Darrell Bock
So the later hymn called Jesus Paid it All is pushing in the direction of making a reformation kind of statement.
Michael Svigel
I like to go a little farther with that hymn. Jesus Paid it All, all to him I owe and he paid that, too. There is a sense in which beginning to end, justification, the declaration of righteousness —
Darrell Bock
Sin had left a crimson stain, he made it white as snow.
Michael Spiegel
Exactly. Glorification. It’s all accomplished for us by grace through faith in Christ alone –
John Hannah
We’ve been convinced that with the reformers that if there’s anything that we need to do to merit the merit of God, it’s very nature, criteria is the character of God himself which is infinite. Therefore, we cannot, but the glory of the gospel these men discovered is that Jesus came and paid that debt for us.
Darrell Bock
And he was capable of doing it.
John Hannah
Being human he could identify with us. Being divine he could stand before God as the judge judged. So it’s free. It’s not free. It’s very costly, but when we say free we mean that it’s free to us and that was revolutionary to a people in darkness to be fair about it.

I even believe that the Roman Catholic Church improved their theology in the reformation, but not enough from the Pelagianism to a semi-Augustinian or semi-Pelagian position. So they did move, too, but we would say not enough.

Darrell Bock
So we’ve said Sola Scriptura, scripture alone, faith alone, Christ alone. What’s left?
Michael Svigel
We did grace alone.
Darrell Bock
Grace alone.
Michael Svigel
Did grace alone. In Christ alone.
Darrell Bock
So we’re down to glory of God alone.
John Hannah
So there’s no credit to be given except to God and the end for which we live our lives is to manifest appreciation.
Darrell Bock
Now this leaves the one category that I think is the other thing that often gets discussed as a result of the reformation and that is the priesthood of all believers. Obviously in a church that was structured very hierarchically and which some people have a lot of authority, this is the social revolutionary part of the reformation in many ways.
Michael Svigel
There’s a couple dimensions to this. There’s the one that is the idea of in our lingo, having a personal relationship with God and there is a sense in which I can pray to God directly in the name of Jesus. I can have this real dynamic relationship with Christ –
Darrell Bock
I don’t need an intercessor/confessor between us –
Michael Svigel
That would have been called mysticism back then, but to us that’s normal parlance.

The other dimension is I don’t need to confess my sins to a priest to be absolved. That’s this idea of he being that means of dispensing that grace. It isn’t merely I confess my sins, but in a sense, too, we are each other’s priests. It’s restoring this idea of the –

Michael Svigel
_______ —
Michael Svigel
— communion of saints. So we are confessing our sins to one another and we are speaking the gospel in absolution together –
Darrell Bock
Everyone exercises their gifts beside one another for the benefit of the whole –
Michael Svigel
— for the sake of one another. So the priesthood of all believers has this vertical as well as horizontal scope.
John Hannah
And it really means that the simplest believer can enter into the presence of God because of the Lord Jesus. That was revolutionary to a people who lived their life with the priest at the high altar with his back to you.
Michael Svigel
Often times the only one partaking of the Lord’s Supper was the priest. If you think about that whole observance was meant to bring the body together, you can see where that has fallen apart.
John Hannah
In other words, late medieval Catholicism drove a wedge between God and the people and, therefore, insecurity. Just sad.
Darrell Bock
Now I have a question I’m gonna ask and there’s no way we have time left to answer it so I’m gonna leave it hanging and we’ll come back to this and that is obviously there’s sociological things going on that make the priesthood of all believers, if I can say it this way, in some ways more possible to exercise in the body in some ways because of what was happening in the opening up of learning and knowledge and access to scripture, et cetera, that made this possible whereas before, even if you believed it, it would have been a harder thing to achieve, if I can say it that way.

Without preempting that conversation, is that one of the social factors that’s at play here?

Michael Svigel
Yeah. The rise in literacy to some degree –
Darrell Bock
Yes, exactly –
John Hannah
Printed word –
Michael Svigel
— and availability of the printed word, yeah.
John Hannah
I just think the gospel was so liberating for people. Luther was onto something.
Michael Svigel
And it still is.
Darrell Bock
Well, it’s been 500 years. At least next October it will be.
John Hannah
We need to meet more frequently.
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. Well, as always happens with The Table, we’ve barely scratched the surface. I haven’t been able to say that in a while so I like saying it, which means we rotate around and come back to some more detail on some of this because these are lovely themes that we’re talking about that come out of the scripture about God’s grace and God’s goodness and his kindness and what Christ has done and the special place of scripture and the glory of God. All these are wonderful themes. So we thank you for joining us on The Table and hope you’ll be aback again with us.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
John D. Hannah
Dr. John D. Hannah is a frequent and popular speaker at home and abroad. His teaching interests include the general history of the Christian church, with particular interest in the works of  Jonathan Edwards and John Owen. Among his published works are a history of DTS and a general history of the Christian church.
Michael J. Svigel
Dr. Svigel serves as department chair and professor of theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is actively engaged in teaching and writing for a broader evangelical audience. His passion for a Christ-centered theology and life is coupled with a penchant for humor, music, and writing. His books and articles range from text critical studies to juvenile fantasy. Many of his written works can be found online at bible.org and retrochristianity.com. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children, Sophie, Lucas, and Nathan.
Theology
Dec 12, 2017
David K. LoweryDavid K. LoweryMikel Del RosarioMikel Del RosarioTerri MooreTerri MooreDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
Experiencing the Christmas Story Mikel Del Rosario, Drs. Darrell Bock, David Lowery, and Terri Moore discuss the Christmas story, focusing on the experience of New Testament characters as well as believers today.
Theology
Dec 5, 2017
Glenn R. KreiderGlenn R. KreiderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
Eschatology in the Nicene Creed In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Glenn Kreider discuss the Nicene Creed, focusing on its historical context and statement on eschatology.