Monday, September 25, 2017

A genuinely fresh angle on the Reformation

The reader of The Year D Project website — there is likely good reason to use the singular — may wonder at the long period of recent inactivity since the last post in February. That post announced the  publication (with corrections) of a short biography of Oecolampadius, which itself promised the forthcoming translation of the Reformer's sermon series on the First Epistle of John (from Advent 1523). I left the website parked at that juncture, at the risk of being towed, in order to focus on fulfilling that promise. With everyone casting about for a fresh angle on the Reformation, the 500th anniversary of which will be widely observed next month, by the grace of God, this is my take. If anyone can find a better one, I would like to know whose it is and what it is. 

Meanwhile, here is the write-up from the back cover. 
"Perhaps the most consequential series on 1John ever preached and one of the earliest examples of a complete expository series from the Swiss Reformation, these sermons mark Oecolampadius’ arrival as the leading voice of the evangelical movement in Basel. As Ernst Staehelin noted, here in the 1John series the Reformer “for the first time organizes the reformatory message in a comprehensive manner.” Preached over the course of twenty-one consecutive evenings in Basel’s St. Martin’s Church in December of 1523, this popular Advent series ran through six print editions in two years. More than any single series, it set the standard for Basel’s program of lectio continua preaching which, with allowance made for the main feasts of the Christian year, became the norm for the Sunday service as well. In these sermons, modeled after the Reformer’s important translations of Chrysostom and delivered concurrently with his famous lectures on Isaiah, he explains the pressing doctrines the congregation asked him to address: Are we indeed justified by faith, and if so, then what is the role of works in the Christian life? In response, Oecolampadius provides, among other things, a biblically rich and theologically lucid Johannine complement to Luther’s labors on the Pauline doctrine of justification and a strong claim, ringing even in the final sentence, that the presence of Christ issues in works of love. Anyone seeking a fresh perspective on the preaching of the Reformation, an understanding of the chief homiletical corrective of the age, a clear articulation of basic Christian doctrine and the ordo salutis, or even (in the words of the Reformer himself) “an enchiridion for the Christian life,” will find fresh and ample inspiration in this vital but forgotten classic which, after 500 years, appears here in English for the first time."

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