Your issue on Luther reminds us of how much we owe him. But we might also be reminded that he didn’t expect to change the status quo of 1500s Europe, in which practically all of the population was Christian by default as a consequence of the almost universal practice of infant baptism. It remained for subsequent reformers to change the default to being a Christian by choice, either through the introduction of confirmation or believer’s baptism.

Marlin Jeschke
Professor Emeritus, Goshen College, Goshen, IN

Luther the Cipher p. 7

Well, if you go to the trouble of nailing your ideas to a church door, marrying a nun, and getting excommunicated, you ought to have something to show for it.

Robin Scott Andress

If you’ve read Martin Luther’s writings and commentaries, you’ll understand how important his influence was, and still is. He’s not perfect, but he’s monumental.

H. A. Bass

The Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years p. 23

I respectfully suggest you missed the painful truth about the election of Donald Trump. It’s not the political divide or even a divided evangelical community that should be our main concern, as difficult as they are. The flagrantly godless behavior of the President is the soul-searing problem here. That is the deep wound to which the church must respond.

Sandra Van Dyk
Cambridge, NY

I was very strongly “Never Trump” during the campaign and supported third-party candidate Gary Johnson. Everyone else in my small Honolulu church, which is mostly Asian and Native Hawaiian, voted for Trump. I felt almost isolated. After some very awkward moments in the days after the election, we have overcome our various political differences and have re-committed ourselves to the God who brings rulers up and takes them down. Strong political differences are in and of themselves not worth cutting yourself off from the church, especially when all are united on the essentials of the faith and our purpose for proclaiming Christ.

I wish other evangelicals would follow the example Mark Galli has given us, but pride and ego (both part of our fallen sinful nature) have driven us to dig in our heels, attack each other, and even judge one’s salvation over who one voted for or which party they support.

Rich Rodriguez

Justify Yourself p. 34

The essay “Justify Yourself” inadvertently put its finger on the major malady of contemporary evangelicalism by claiming that “the gift of Christ” is “a gift with no strings attached.” Of course the gospel comes with strings attached! Or rather, a yoke (Matt. 11:29), a cross (Luke 9:23), a community (Eph. 4:25), and a mission (John 20:21). Zahl’s surprising misinterpretation of Hebrews 8:10 shows the problem. The reference is to the New Covenant (not the Old) in which by grace God’s law—his character—is written on the heart. The point of the gospel is not escape from law but the law written within, internalized—where we find it to be the law of life, love, and grace (Rom. 8:1–4; cf. Ps. 119).

Law and gospel are not opposites, but rather a gracious circle of receiving and giving. This article runs the risk of turning robust Reformation theology into mere psychology.

Howard A. Snyder
Wilmore, KY

Wow! Well written, engaging, directly applicable. Thank you.


Self-justification has far reaching implications including relationships.


The 2017 Book Awards p. 52

My most meaningful 2016 Christmas gifts came through the January/February issue of CT. In my world, there is no better gift than the recommendation of a great book. I’m only on page 14 of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith, but I’ve already told myself, “This could be the most life changing book of your life!” The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge arrived today, and I’ve added reading it to my 2017 goal list. Each year, only four of the most top-priority items make the list! And lastly, my husband and I are savoring the reading of one masterpiece a night from 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know by Terry Glaspey, along with a gin and tonic!

Shari Plunkett
San Leandro, CA

The CT Book Awards were all deserving titles, but there was one category missing entirely—business, management, and leadership. Such good books as Gary McIntosh’s Growing God’s Church, Mike Bonem’s Thriving in the Second Chair, Aubrey Malphurs’s Ministry Nuts and Bolts, Bill Easum’s Execute Your Vision, Shawn Lovejoy’s Be Mean About the Vision, and many more were published in 2016. After all, what were Luther’s theses about but managing, leading, transforming, and growing the church to better health?

Ronald E. Keener
Former editor of Church Executive
Chambersburg, PA

When I grow up, I want to be like Kristen Johnson: mother, teacher, preacher, and award-winning author!


Why Our Body Destroys Itself p. 60

Fascinating science and a great connection to faith, growth, and life.


Support for fasting and health at the cellular level and spiritual parallels as well!


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