Five Centuries Later

We don’t manage to theme each issue of Essentials, but we have made a special effort this issue to honour the five hundredth anniversary of the posting of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses by majoring on Reformation themes. There’s a trio of feature articles by a trio of Peters. Firstly Peter Brain looks at justification by faith in the heart of the pastor, then Peter Jensen reflects on the strange and precious gift of the Bible, and lastly Peter Adam urges us to benefit from the reformation of prayer that Cranmer brought to the church in the Book of Common Prayer. Another Reformation feature has Paul Bartley relating how a Reformation study tour has catalysed his interest in the historical actors, aims and outcomes of the Reformation.

Our lead articles are perhaps less obviously connected to the Reformation, but consider that anxiety over guilt before God was a powerful experience for Luther, and the joyful discovery of justification before God through faith in Christ’s atoning death electrified him and his age. What, then has happened to the sense and burden of guilt in our own age, and the desire to be morally justified? Is it still with us? In our opening leader I recommend a recent essay that explores these questions powerfully, and in our second leader, Frances Cook writes candidly of the way her Bible reading helped her in her own feelings of self-condemnation.


Elsewhere in the issue, we hear from Katrina and Jonathan Holgate of their involvement in ministry to new arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers in particular; David Seccombe brings us part 2 of his Bible Study there is an array of book reviews and Peter Adam rounds out the issue with a Caboose article on Bible translation and indigenous languages written for NAIDOC week. We hope you enjoy reading all this, and do email me your observations, objections, alternatives, amens and hallelujahs —we will publish thoughtful, useful comments on the articles in this issues.

In upcoming editions of Essentials I am keen firstly to explore issues around the church and society — the experience of Christians in politics, the corporate world and in connection with issues our society faces (Summer Essentials). Subsequently I would like to dig into innovation and tradition in current church practice — what should we adopt, adapt, embrace? What should we retain, renew, recover? What is the place of buildings, liturgy, social media, small groups, music, pastoral visitation etc in the life of the local church of today and tomorrow? If you think you have the right stuff to contribute on any of those topics, do be in touch.

Ben Underwood, Editor
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