,,Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification“ is the first book of Oswald Bayer translated into English by Lutheran Quarterly Books. It is a brief book (86 pages) and is a quick and easy read. Overall, it is a good primer to introduce the novice into the theological world of Dr. Bayer, professor emeritus of the University of Tübingen.
There are many gems in this book, and I especially found chapters 3-5 to be theologically rich. Chapter 3 deals with the passive righteousness of faith, chapter 4 deals with faith comes by hearing, and chapter 5 deals with faith and sanctification.
Bayer’s passive righteousness of faith is a concise summary of what can be read in his ,,Theology the Lutheran Way“ book that is also translated into English. He also lays down some basic groundwork on the three estates (Church, household, and government) as places where God sanctifies us and uses us to sanctify others.
Bayer exhorts the power of God’s proclaimed Word. ,,Faith comes by listening to preaching. It derives from the Word of God, the external verbal Word. The passive righteousness of faith takes place only in virtue of the Word“ (Bayer 42). He does mention from time to time the Sacraments: ,,The future of the world derives from the present-day newness of the presence of God; the new creation now disclosed in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper turns the old perverted world into the past and restores the original world as creation“ (Bayer 65).
On page 50, Bayer challenges the formal and material principles of Protestant theology: ,,For many years Protestant theology has inappropriately distinguished between its formal principle (the authority of the Bible) and its material principle (the doctrine of justification)”. He counters with a quote from Luther’s preface to the Bible, “All the true and proper sacred writings agree on one point. They all preach and promote Christ. The proper touchstone for evaluation the books is whether we find that they truly promote Christ on not, for all scripture bears witness to Christ“ (Bayer 50).
Overall, Bayer’s book is a very sound treatment of Lutheran theology, especially as it relates to justification and the proclamation of the gospel.