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Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther [Paperback]

By Carl E. Braaten (Editor) & Robert W. Jenson (Editor)
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Item description for Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther by Carl E. Braaten & Robert W. Jenson...

This book introduces the English-speaking world to the new Finnish interpretation of the theology of Martin Luther, initiated by the writings of Tuomo Mannermaa of Helsinki University. At the heart of the Finnish breakthrough in Luther research lies the theme of salvation. Luther found his answer to the mystery of salvation in the justifying work of Christ received through faith alone. But Protestant theology has never enjoyed a consensus on how to interpret the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. In opposition to the traditional forensic understanding of justification, Mannermaa argues that for Luther Christ is really present in faith itself. Mannermaa's interpretation of Luther's view of justification is thus more ontological and mystical than ethical and juridical. As such, his work challenges a century of scholarly opinion concerning a foundational doctrine of Protestant theology.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pages   182
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.64" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1998
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  New  
ISBN  0802844421  
ISBN13  9780802844422  

Availability  0 units.

More About Carl E. Braaten & Robert W. Jenson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carl E. Braaten is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and former executive director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology.

Carl E. Braaten currently resides in Northfield, in the state of Minnesota. Carl E. Braaten was born in 1929.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Finland
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( L ) > Luther, Martin
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Lutheran
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Protestant

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther?

A new interpretation of Luther  Mar 3, 2004
What is most fascinating about this book is the fact that deification or theosis becomes a crucial component of Luther's doctrine of justification. For too long, the idea of theosis has remained obscure and unknown within Western Christianity, while it is an important piece of Eastern Orthodox theology. Furthermore, this idea has it's roots in Patristic teaching and the idea itself is taught not only in the Scriptures, but in early Fathers such as Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and even Augustine. The Finnish interpretation is fascinating because it argues that Luther had more in common with the Eastern theologian Gregory Palamas, then he did with Aquinas or Calvin.

The main thrust of the Finnish view is that Jesus Christ is actually present in faith. This results in not just an extrinsic and forensic justification, the doctrine promulgated by the Reformers, but also results in an intrinsic renewal that actually makes the repentant sinner just. Thus, the Finnish view teaches both extrinsic and intrinsic renewal at justification, and not the common reformation of extrinsic justification alone. This both..and theology is basically the same teaching expounded by the early Fathers and is common in Patristic theology.

This understanding of justification corrects the later Lutheran teaching advocating only forensic justification and allows justification to be a gradual process, and not just a one time event. In addition, sanctification and justification become more closely related and not two separate and distinct phenomena that do not relate with each other. The common teaching of the Reformer's makes sanctification a result of justification and therefore one's works are only a product of one's justification, but not related to it. The Finnish view allows for an interrelation between justification and sanctification that makes our works, the ones performed by Christ present in our faith, justifying.

This book is important because it opens up new avenues of communication between the Orthodox and the Lutherans and allows for fruitful ecumenical discussion. Also, it will also be beneficial in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutherans and the Catholic Church since theosis has not been completely ignored by the Church in the West. The only problem I have with this book is that the Reformation doctrine of sola fide is not described in detail, and no one takes the time to explain how the Finnish view can still accomodate this teaching. Overall, this is an excellent work and one I believe most Protestant's should take the time to read.

Deification in Luther?  Dec 24, 2002
I was really interested in this book for two reasons. First, it allows modern Lutherans (LCMS and LCWS) to move away from their typically myopic, one-sided christology that sees the incarnation in Anselmian terms wherein Christ is born to "pay the price" to satisfy the wrath of an angry Father who needs to punsih someone to let us off the hook for our sins both original and actual, thus pitting God's love against His justice. While there is some truth to this theory of atonement, it is far too narrow. It hardly is representative of the great tradition of the Church (or the Scriptures).

The second benefit of this book is that it sets the groundwork for productive talks between Eastern Orthodox and Lutherans. For the Orthodox, God's economic dealings with humans in Christ extend far beyond the satisfaction model of the West. Following the Scriptures and the Fathers, the Orthodox stress that God became man that man might become God. For the Orthodox, the humanity's end and purpose is theosis, or deification. Union With Christ deals explicitly with this theme in Luther, and so opens up a welcome path for dialogue.

Other books of similar interest include: Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue by John Meyendorff (Editor), et al; Heaven on Earth: A Lutheran-Orthodox Odyssey by Robert Tobias; Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen; Common Ground, by Jordan Bajis; and On the Incarnation, by Saint Athanasius.


Excellent research served with baloney ...  May 28, 2002
"Union With Christ" creates a divided reaction from the reader: The excellent research of the Finnish scholars leaves nothing to be desired. Superb, highly academic research, clearly structured, and well argued. I might not agree with all of their points, but they certainly did their homework well.

On the other hand, you have the responses of the editors, namely Braaten and Jenson. I've never seen something as incredibly void of content as this! In the words of one of my professors, this is "baloney." I always thought "responses" should contain something more than "I agree with what he said, so let me summarize it again."

Conclusion: If you don't read Finnish or German, and you want access to the breaking edge of Luther research, here's the book to buy. On the other hand, if you're looking for a decent evaluation of the Finnish position, stay away from this book -- you will be greatly disappointed.

Dialogue with Eastern Orthodox  May 9, 2001
Is this provocative work primarily a product of investigation of Luther's thought or of endeavor to ecumenical dialogue? Although the authors of this book ardently assert that in Luther the notion of 'participation' and/or 'divinization' is a central leitmotiv, it doesn't necessarily seem like that. The concept of sanctification is mentioned more frequently than that of 'participation' and/or 'divinization' in the works of Luther. And the more, while we can find incessantly remarks about sanctification from his pre-Reformation era to post-Reformation one, the proofs on which the authors rely are not seemingly so consistent a leitmotiv in Luther's thought. Of course, Luther unceasingly stressed upon the importance of the presence of God, but there is some difficulty to equate it automatically with the notion of 'participation' and/or 'divinization.' Luther seems much more interested in emphasizing 'esse-ad' aspect than 'esse-in' aspect to avoid danger of medieval scholastic ontology. His stress upon the presence of God is much more affected by his peculiar eschatological thought than concern about 'being' that has been accentuated throughout this book by the various authours. So, while we may agree there is a similarity between Luther's thought and Eastern Orthodox in 'participation' and/or 'divinization,' there is a considerable difficulty to think that it is his central leitmotiv that governs all other thought in Luther. In spite of such a defect, this is the book one must read if he want to get new insight in Luther scholarship. In my opinion, it is inevitable for any serious Luther reader. While Luther by Oberman is still remained unsurpassed and unrivalled, this work can be regarded as second only to Oberman's work in recent Luther scholarship.

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