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Between Wittenberg and Geneva

Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation

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At the 500th anniversary of the Wittenberg Reformation, two highly regarded scholars compare and contrast the history and theological positions of the Reformed and Lutheran traditions. The authors tackle nine theological topics significant for the life of the church that remain a source of division between the two traditions. The book helps readers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Reformed and Lutheran approaches to presenting the biblical message and invites honest, irenic, and open dialogue within the Protestant family.

1. Scripture and Its Interpretation
2. Law and Gospel
3. The Person and Work of Christ
4. Election and the Bondage of the Will
5. Justification and Sanctification
6. Baptism
7. The Lord's Supper
8. Worship


"Lutheran theologian Robert Kolb and Reformed theologian Carl Trueman offer robust confessional approaches to classical theological loci, seeking to ground faith in the scriptural truth of the Word. Eschewing the polemics of earlier centuries and embodying the best in civility and integrity, each thinker shows the marked similarities and differences between their two traditions. This book invites both Lutheran and Reformed theologians and pastors to a greater appreciation, awareness, and understanding of each other's traditions and in this way to become more fluent in each other's milieu and more gracious toward each other. This is a needed book."

Mark Mattes, Grand View University

"One could scarcely ask for any better-qualified exponents of classic Lutheran and Reformed views than Robert Kolb and Carl Trueman--two theologians who are well able to articulate a confessional stance while simultaneously nurturing friendship and a mutual Christian bond. Between Wittenberg and Geneva can serve as a terrific introduction to the distinctive biblical interpretations and pastoral convictions of each of these two traditions, not only as usually attributed to Luther and Calvin but also as traced through the several generations (and controversies) that followed. Warmly recommended for both tone and content."

John L. Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone

"This book is a must-read. Historically grounded, self-critical, and convinced that his confession best summarizes biblical teaching, each author engages in something quite unique and important--talking to each other. In the process, the authors exhibit not only key differences but also the shared legacy that is often overlooked in our nonconfessional age."

Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

"Between Wittenberg and Geneva is a treasure for all students of the Reformation. Kolb and Trueman, both careful historians and theologians of the Reformation, provide an eminently readable, insightful, and charitable guide to the major theological concerns of the Lutheran and Reformed confessional traditions. They tackle the major doctrines of the Reformation, examining with great clarity and honesty both the shared convictions and sharp disagreements of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their theological heirs. Pastors and laypeople, teachers and students will all benefit from the rich content and irenic tone of this book."

Carl L. Beckwith, professor of history and doctrine, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"Convergences and divergences on major theological themes of both Lutheran and Reformed traditions are brought to light. Irenic in spirit and lucid in writing, this book is a welcome theological ressourcement; it will also fructify true ecumenical dialogue. Edification and illumination are the gifts of Kolb and Trueman, for whom readers can be grateful."

Dennis Ngien, professor of systematic theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary, Toronto, and research professor, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"Robert Kolb and Carl Trueman are not only experts in their respective traditions, but they are both marvelous writers. This is a needed book. Too many who adhere either to the Lutheran confession or the Reformed have not taken time to read their opposites. Further, as Trueman notes in the preface, most Evangelicals ignore issues that are vital to the two great confessional Reformation traditions. Well-informed readers may quibble here and there, but all must admit that this volume is a great contribution to genuine ecumenicity, which requires honest exposition, inquiry, and dialogue rather than the papering over of genuine differences. This volume is much to be commended."

R. Scott Clark, professor of church history and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California

The Authors

  1. Robert Kolb
    Tony Carosella

    Robert Kolb

    Robert Kolb (PhD, University of Wisconsin) is Mission Professor of Systematic Theology Emeritus at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Genius of Luther's Theology, Luther and the...

    Continue reading about Robert Kolb

  2. Carl R. Trueman

    Carl R. Trueman

    Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. He previously served as Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia...

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"This is an outstanding book that emerged from a joint desire to explain differences between Lutheran and Reformed churches by conveying points of convergence and divergence between the two communions. The authors are eminently qualified representatives of the traditions. . . . The authors wanted to 'produce a book reflecting our commitment to the catholic faith of the Christian church and our respect and affection for each other as Christian brothers who serve the same Lord and Savior.' They have succeeded. . . . This solid and excellent book can enhance confessional and ecumenical awareness. It is written clearly and irenically--just what we need!"

Donald K. McKim,

Toronto Journal of Theology

"The work is neither a history of the Reformation nor a systemic theology. Between Wittenberg and Geneva is historical theology at its best. The reader would be hard pressed to find two authors better suited for the task than Robert Kolb and Carl R. Trueman. Their expertise in presenting the historical roots of Lutheranism and the Reformed, while unpacking the theological distinctions between the two make for an engaging and insightful study. . . . Between Wittenberg and Geneva is a great place to start when working through the difficult task of understanding Lutheran and Reformed theology. Kolb and Trueman do a wonderful job of working through historical and theological issues surrounding the continuity and discontinuity between Lutheran, Reformed, and modern evangelicalism."

Hoon Lee,

Exploring Church History blog