Purposefully, this blog is titled Soli Deo Gloria, in reference to the fact that the primary goal is to bring glory to God by building his people. It was fitting for me then, to review a recent book edited by Jason Allen called, Sola: How the Five Solas Are Still Reforming the Church. This small book is worthy of some attention and brings light to the five solas that few consider.
The book is as simple as its premise, to introduce the five pillars of the reformation and their ongoing importance, by simply having five people write five chapters about the five solas. Editor Jason Allen has coordinated with Jared Wilson, Jason Duesing, Matthew Barrett, and Owen Strachan (all recognizable names) to produce a fine primer on the five solas (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria). There are no surprises here as each chapter is short, easy to read, and seeks to guide readers towards the importance of the solas and inclusion/impact in daily life.
Because of the people involved, I had high expectations for this particular book and yet because of the size, I did not expect a comprehensive book. Reading Sola proved to be an informative experience because of the authors’ ability to make a book that was:
Intensive: Certainly they were unable to fit all details in the space of so few pages, but what they did share was well-placed. Each chapter had three major attributes: it offers a biblical foundation, a historical foundation, and a practical foundation for the sola being described.
Insightful: The authors are insightful, going beyond what many may already know and instead shedding light on the importance of each sola. This is most evident in their ability to explain how the solas are connected to one another.
Instructive: Each author has adequately explained why fidelity is important. In doing so, they combat against several extremes, for example legalism. Therefore, their application is appropriate and helpful.
More than a simple recitation of historical, ideological, or biblical ideas, the authors have formed a book that offers helpful applications.
Personally, I would have appreciated more citations or evidence for some of their historical points. As they lay out a historical foundation, there are some generalizations made or aspects that are simply assumed to be known that the target audience may not already know. Therefore, to simply lend more credibility, citations or footnotes would have been helpful. While I know my own views, some readers will notice that in the discussion of Sola Fide, the author adamantly defends the view that it is God who initiates faith in a person life and therefore he will deny the use of prevenient grace.
Sola is a short book and a quick read with much to offer. I am of the mindset that for the minimal time invested to read it, it is a worthwhile book for many. It would not be my go-to book if I wanted to teach someone more deeply on the topics, but for a quick primer on the topic, this is a good one.
To learn more about this book or purchase a copy, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.