Guest Editorial -- By: Robert W. Yarbrough

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 61:1 (Mar 2018)
Article: Guest Editorial
Author: Robert W. Yarbrough

Guest Editorial

Robert W. Yarbrough

Perhaps most ETS members were encouraged, inspired, or otherwise buoyed by events in 2017 celebrating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Most evangelical denominations (as well as non-denominations) own some connection, whether loose or tight, to either precursors of the Reformation (like Hus or Wycliffe), to a magisterial Reformer, to a radical Reformer (like Menno Simons), or to one or more of their descendants (like Jonathan Edwards). In or around 2017, these names and connections were highlighted in any number of observances and books.

Other books singled out the Reformation solas. Kevin Vanhoozer’s Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity comes to mind.1 I joined with a colleague in South Africa to write a short book that featured both the solas and selected Reformation or post-Reformation leaders: Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin, Zacharias Ursinus, and Francis Turretin.2

And, of course, the theme of the 2017 national ETS meeting in Providence, RI, was “The Heritage of the Reformation.”

Yet at the core of the Reformation, I would argue, was something beyond its greatest leaders and most trenchant truths. I am reminded of God’s declaration in Isaiah: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa 66:2 ESV). Or from another angle there is Jesus’s accusation in Mark: “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12:24 NIV). It is these Scriptures “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15; ESV = NIV). In fact, all that we know for sure pertaining most directly to God and the world over which he reigns is rooted in the Bible.

Reformation leaders, history, truths, and heritage are priceless in what they mediate. But what they mediate most fundamentally is, in the end, focus on the writings of the OT and NT which (along with Trinitarian belief) have formed the primary basis of ETS affiliation since its inception.

This Scripture focus is dramatized in a fascinating account by Brian Cummings: “Luther in the Berlinka.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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