What do I think of Michael Allen and Jonathan Linebaugh’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I got this book on sale on Kindle. (Pro tip. Sign up for emails that tell you when books go on sale on Kindle.) I do have some friends who are Catholic and Orthodox and I thought this would be an interesting read. A historian and a theologian look at one reformer’s work on one epistle and then each write a chapter critiquing what they have to say in light of modern scholarship.
Something definitely worthwhile to point is that sometimes, it’s tempting to think the Reformers moved us away from tradition entirely. This is not so. There were a number of decisions the church made that the Reformers agreed with, such as the nature of Christ and the Trinity. Many of them loved the writings of John Chrysostom and especially Augustine.
As is said in the book about interpretation:
For good or bad, the Protestant Reformation heritage has bequeathed to us a sense of interpretational autonomy , which has led to the idea that the sola individual is capable of being an authority on Scripture without recourse to how the church has read these texts across generations. But this is never how the reformers read the text. The reformers always read their biblical texts with ancient friends. This volume reminds us of the need to rekindle some of these friendships, lest our dementia become crippling. It is within this context, then, that I echo John Bradford’s appeal to “remember the reading and preaching of God’s prophet and true preacher Martin Bucer.”
And we should seek to do the same. It would be a mistake to say the church fathers got everything right. It would also be one to say they got everything wrong. While Scripture is the final authority, it is foolish and arrogant to think that the Holy Spirit has only aided people since the Reformation.
The book looks at Melanchthon, Luther, Calvin, Bucer, and Crammer. It goes through and then gives concluding thoughts overall. Those interested in the debates of the time and seeing them in light of what we know today will definitely enjoy this.
For my end, I have to say that while I do appreciate the work being done, and I do know how important it is, it sometimes doesn’t seem to always apply on a practical level. I do know that I am forgiven in Christ. I do not claim to understand how that fully works out with justification and sanctification.
Also, I do think a lot of times the writers are way too heavy-handed on the New Perspective on Paul. I am sure if the Reformers were here today, they would be eager to study the position and see what they thought. The last thing they would want is to have their position be the new position that dare not be challenged.
If you enjoy discussions of justification and sanctification and free-will, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy discussions of the Reformation and Catholic/Protestant dialogue, you will enjoy this book. Either way, you will walk away being more informed than you were before.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)