In confessional Protestant circles we use some short hand Latin phrases that we might not all understand, even though we use them frequently. Sola gratia is one of those. These expressions go back to the very beginning of the Reformation. Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, before he radicalized, used the expression sola gratia repeatedly in his 1519 disputation. Martin Bucer used it in his 1536 commentary on the Gospels and again in a 1545 tract. The Italian Reformer, Peter Martyr Vermiligi used it in his 1558 lectures on Romans. Wolfgang Musculus used it in his lectures on Galatians and Ephesians (1561). Caspar Olevianus used it in his lectures on Romans (1579). Calvin defended the notion and used the phrase, in Institutes 2.3.11—he was arguing against the Roman notion of “cooperating grace” in justification. John Fesko joins us for this episode to think with us about what it means to say, “by grace alone.”
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