A Call for a New Reformation
In Zwingli’s words we see that our Reformed forebears unabashedly proclaimed salvation by Christ alone (solus Christus). Only in Christ is life, and outside of Him is death, they said. God’s justice can be satisfied only through Christ’s obedience. Outside of Christ, God is an everlasting, all-consuming fire; in Christ, He is a gracious Father. Without Christ, we can do nothing; in Him, we can do all things (John 15:5; Phil. 4:13).
The righteousness of Christ cannot be exhausted. As Luther says, “We cannot grasp or exhaust Christ, the eternal Righteousness, with one sermon or thought; for to learn to appreciate Him is an everlasting lesson which we shall not be able to finish either in this or in yonder life.”
Christ alone is and can bring salvation. Paul makes plain in Romans 1 and 2 that though there is a self-manifestation of God outside of His saving work in Christ, no amount of natural theology can unite God and man. Union with Christ is the only way of salvation.
We urgently need to hear solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology, which has such a low view of Scripture. As Carl Braaten says, “There is currently underway a strong trend in both Protestant and Roman Catholic theology to call into question the classical Christian confession that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of the world.” Too many today, Braaten goes on to say, “are returning to a form of the old bankrupt nineteenth-century Christological approach of Protestant liberalism and calling it ‘new,’ when it is actually scarcely more than a shallow Jesus-ology, at best a revival of the liberal Protestant picture of Jesus as a moral example of middle-class piety.” The end result is that today many—as H. R. Niebuhr has famously said of old theological liberalism—proclaim and worship “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”24
Today, postmodernism sees truth as wholly pluralistic and relativistic. There is no universal or absolute truth in any area of knowledge, not even in religion. Postmodernists, therefore, are skeptics who fully reject any classical concept of truth. The exclusive claims of Christ and Christianity are anathema to them. They see no beauty in Christ or in His stupendous work, that they should desire Him.
Our Reformed forebears, drawing on a perspective traceable all the way back to the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea, found it helpful to think about Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King. The 1689 Baptist Confession, for instance, puts it this way: “Christ, and Christ alone, is fitted to be mediator between God and man. He is the prophet, priest and king of the church of God”