Author Archives: pgroach

Pelikan on Creeds

Jaroslav Pelikan is generally recognized as one of the most important American historians of Church history. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor (the Luther connection!), and one himself until he joined the Orthodox Church in America a few years before his death. His magnum opus is the five-volume set The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. Why am I telling you this: because he recorded an hour-long interview on the radio show Speaking of Faith a few years ago on the use and benefit of the historic Christian creeds. Well worth the listen. You can find it here.

Luther, Anabaptists, and Justification

In the Luther reading that I have done (and continue to do), more than one source has indicated that 16th c. Anabaptist soteriology was different than the Lutheran. For example, both Hughes Oliphant Old and Alister McGrath claim that justification by faith was functionally not accepted in Anabaptist theology. In fact, McGrath writes in his article on justification in the above cited volume, “[t]he radical wing of the Reformation, stressed the importance of obedience and discipleship, adopting doctrines of grace which stressed human responsibility and accountability towards God, rather than God’s transformation of the individual.”

My questions: Are these tendentious readings of the Anabaptists (both men are Reformed in their theological commitments)? Or, while not denying justification by faith alone, did the Anabaptist emphasis on “responsibility toward God” lead to a theology that practically eclipsed their salvation by grace through faith alone (e.g. Schleitheim Confession)?

Matt, help a brother out.

Thanks,

PGR