We are quickly approaching the 500-year anniversary of the event that people often date the Reformation back to — Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 thesis to the doors of Wittenberg. As we approach this anniversary, there are certain to be many books and articles written on the importance of and reflections about the Reformation and its impact on our theology today. And rightfully so.
A New Series
One such books comes to us as the fourth in a series from Zondervan. The series is called “The 5 Solas Series: What the Reformers Taught … and Why It Still Matters.” I reviewed the three previous volumes in this series here, here, and here
Now, allow me to introduce to you the fourth in the series, written by SBTS professor of Christian Theology, Stephen Wellum — Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior. In the introduction to this volume, Wellum helpfully puts all five of the solas of the Reformation into perspective:
Reformation theology is often summarized by the five solas. 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) (19).
In this present volume, Wellum zeroes in on solus Christus, the central wheel, as Wellum puts it, of the other four solas and the heart of Christian theology. In this volume, which is not a full-orbed Christology, Wellum focuses on two primary aspects of a biblical Christology — The exclusive identity of Christ and his sufficient work. Wellum states:
“Simply put, Christ alone must connect all the doctrines of our theology because Christ alone stands as the cornerstone of all the purposes and plans of God himself. But if we misinterpret who Christ is and what he does in his life, death, and resurrection, then all other doctrines will likely suffer (24).
The book is comprised of 3 parts, each containing 4 chapters.
Part 1 looks at the storyline of Scripture in order to establish the exclusive identity of Christ. In these chapters, the author looks at the overall storyline of Scripture first, followed by chapters on the self-witness of Christ and the confirmation of that witness by the apostles. The final chapter in this first part begins a transition from a focus on Christ’s person to a focus on his work by looking at the incarnation.
Part 2 turns to the topic of the sufficiency of Christ in order to determine the nature and necessity of his sacrifice. In this part are chapters on Christ as our perfect prophet-priest-king, the sufficiency of the atonement, and two chapters on penal substitution.
The final part, Part 3, looks at why the Reformers taught Christ alone and how the last five hundred years have created a different cultural context for us today.
In the words of Wellum: “From beginning to end, this book confesses with the Reformers that Jesus Christ bears the exclusive identity of God the Son incarnate and has accomplished an all-sufficient work to fulfill God’s eternal plans and establish God’s eternal kingdom on earth” (27).
In this book, Wellum offers the reader an excellent look at why the Reformers taught Christ Alone, and why we must do so today. Each chapter in this book is an incredible gold mine of biblical truth and careful theological study that lifts the readers hearts and minds to understand more of the uniqueness and sufficiency of Christ — an understanding that does not stop there, but leads us to worship, live out, and proclaim the excellencies of Christ alone. As with all of the volumes in this series, you will do yourself a great service to turn your hearts and minds to the solas of the Reformation, particular solus Christus.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Zondervan publishers for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.