“Solus Christus”: What The Reformers Taught And Why It Still Matters -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 19:4 (Winter 2015)
Article: “Solus Christus”: What The Reformers Taught And Why It Still Matters
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

“Solus Christus”: What The Reformers Taught And Why It Still Matters

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and editor of Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He received his Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and he is the author of numerous essays and articles and the co-author of Kingdom through Covenant (Crossway, 2012) and God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2015), and the co-editor of Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Crossway, 2015 with Gregg Allison), and Progressive Covenantalism (B&H, 2016 with Brent Parker).

Reformation theology is often summarized by the five solas1. Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) stands as the formal principle of the Reformation and the foundation of all theology. God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria) functions as a capstone for all Reformation theology, connecting its various parts to God’s one purpose for creating this world and humanity in it. In between these two solas, the other three emphasize that God has chosen and acted to save us by his sovereign grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), which is grounded in and through Christ alone (solus Christus).

If we are to learn from the Reformers, we do well to begin with these summarizing solas. But if we are to understand the substance of the Reformation solas and profit from them, we must bear in mind two points. First, all of the solas are interrelated and mutually dependent; you cannot have one without the others. Second, the five solas are just as important today as they were in the Reformation for capturing what is at the heart of the Gospel. Without minimizing this mutual dependence, however, we will also need to consider that one sola plays a distinct part in connecting the others to bring us the full glory of God in the Gospel.

Solus Christus stands at the center of the other four solas, connecting them into a coherent theological system by which the Reformers declared the glory of God. For this reason, we need to attend closely to what the Reformers taught about our Lord Jesus Christ. The entirety of Reformation Christology lies well beyond this presentation and my forthcoming book. I can only sketch where the book goes, but the basic point which the book seeks to recover from the Reformers is the exclusive identity of Christ and his all-sufficient work. Although in recent years the exclusi...

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