At the beginning of our current series of articles on righteousness by faith, we discussed Luther's "tower experience" and argued for its late dating (December 1518). This is not just a matter of purely academic interest. It helps answer the question, What is the original Protestant doctrine of righteousness by faith?
Come, let us reason together.
Since we published our article, we have found Lowell C. Green's essay on this matter in The Sixteenth Century Journal (April 1973). We believe that he produces further evidence to refute the more popular earlier dating of Luther's breakthrough into real Protestant theology. We are therefore reproducing Dr. Green's very fine essay in this issue of Present Truth Magazine.
As chapter six of our current series on righteousness by faith says, the gospel of justification by Christ's imputed righteousness is forever the rock of offense. The issue before every church and every community of Christians is whether we will fall on this Rock and be broken (in repentance) or whether that Rock will fall on us and grind us to powder. Some who are smugly complacent because of their great Reformation heritage are in danger of coming under Christ's rebuke, "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead . . . Repent." Unless they do, they may yet awake to find that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.