Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross – Marco Barone

Marco Barone, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross (Eugene: Resource Publications, 2017), 145 pp.

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross by Marco Barone is an illuminating examination of the Protestant Reformer’s view of the gospel. The author seeks to show how Luther’s view coincides with Augustine and ultimately agrees with Scripture.

Barone makes good use of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation as a means of identifying his theological convictions and concerns. The primary emphasis focuses on free will, the law of God and the works of man, the righteousness of God, and the cross work of Jesus Christ. The author boils down Luther’s view:

Man is not righteous by himself. He does not become righteous by a life of good works, or by the mere acceptance of and conformity to the moral law. Rather, man is declared righteous by a supernatural and graciously free act of God which he performs according to his eternal decree of predestination. Man’s works do not make him righteous. According to Luther’s Augustinian philosophy of the cross, true righteousness is the necessary prerequisite for producing good works.

The most essential feature of the book is understanding the distinction between the theology of the cross (Luther and Augustine) and the theology of glory. The theology of the cross that Luther maintained saw the will as bound in sin. This view holds that sinners can only achieve virtue as a result of receiving the gift of regeneration. Righteousness is “alien” to use a term coined by Luther. The sinner receives Christ’s righteousness by faith alone. And Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is mankind’s only hope for receiving eternal life, which of course is received by grace alone through faith alone.

The so-called theology of glory is diametrically opposed to Luther’s theology of the cross at every juncture. It is man-centered, focused on autonomy and self-effort, and in the end, is Pelagian to the core.

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross is a welcome addition to the growing scholarly works that examine the German Reformer’s life and theological legacy. Barone’s commitment to raising awareness of Luther’s gospel-centeredness should be celebrated. Additionally, the author should be commended for helping readers detect Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, which holds millions of people captive in our culture.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

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