October 31 2010 was the 493rd anniversary of what has now come to be known as the Reformation Day. On the same day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. That event sparked off the Protestant Reformation which altered the course of Christian History decisively.
However, sadly, this event has been forgotten with the passage of time. Indian Christians, especially, have very little knowledge about it. Hardly any churches have this important day in their church calendar to commemorate it. Many also think that since the Reformation got sparked off in Europe, it is something specific to that geographical region and is probably irrelevant to Indian Christians. However, as I pointed out, this event was so crucial to the universal visible church as a whole that it shapes our church life even to this day. All of us who identify ourselves as protestants need to know what we are protesting about. Hence it is good to remind ourselves of the real issues in the Reformation.
There is a popular adage in today’s Christianity that says “Christ unites, Doctrine divides.” And hence do not concentrate on doctrines but tolerate every ‘wind of doctrine’ for the sake of Christian unity. But is this indeed a biblical attitude? Did Jesus really envisage this kind of unity in his high priestly prayer? If that was so then why did the apostles and church fathers constantly fight against heresies and warn about false teachers? This adage actually creates a false dilemma and must be rejected. Doctrines must be studied and clear positions taken. This is only good for the long term health of the Church. In this spirit, I highly recommend this book – The Doctrines that Divide – by Erwin Lutzer.
This book is a fine primer on the cardinal doctrines that have divded the Church historically. Erwin Lutzer traces the major debates that have taken place in the Church — over Christ’s deity, Christ’s humanity, Marydom, Papacy, Baptism, Lord’s supper, Canon and finally Predestination versus Free will. As you read this book, you will gain a great deal of knowledge on not only these debates but also on sound theological positions which you might not even hold presently. It will also help you grasp the course of Christian history.
The Predestination/Free will section of the book is very interesting and I am sure will be rewarding to any believer who does not know what Calvinism is. You might even think of realigning your denominational loyalty after reading this section! However, the author is never chauvinistic and is always persuasive by appealing to the scriptures. For this reason this book is a delight. I personally agree with all the conclusion the author makes.
Most people do not recognize the worth of this book and hence OM sells it at 25% discount – you can get it for just Rs 67. Go grab it, it is definitely worth that investment.