For those looking for reading to do for the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, it would be hard to improve on two articles by B. B. Warfield written for the four-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Ninety-Five Theses in Their Theological Significance.” In The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield. Edited by Ethelbert D. Warfield, William Park Armstrong, and Caspar Wistar Hodge. 1932; Reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
This article, written in 1917 for the four-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, begins by rejecting the following thesis: When Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses, he was only protesting the abuse of indulgences and not the entire system. Warfield debunks this thesis with an exposition of the Theses that shows that indulgences were part of a sacerdotal system that Luther had already rejected and replaced with an evangelical doctrine of salvation.
Warfield, B. B. “The Theology of the Reformation.” In The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield. Edited by Ethelbert D. Warfield, William Park Armstrong, and Caspar Wistar Hodge. 1932; Reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
In this article, written on the 400th anniversary of the Reformation, Warfield argues that the Reformation was “the substitution of one set of doctrines for another.” He maintains it was not primarily a matter of Luther’s experience. It was the change in doctrine that enabled the experience. Nor was it primarily a reform of corruption in the church. That had long been tried, but only a change in doctrine made such reform successful.
Warfield argues that the center of this doctrinal claim is that salvation can in no way be merited by works but can only be obtained through Christ crucified alone by grace alone. Warfield takes Luther’s reply to Erasmus, “On the Enslaved Will,” to be the fundamental statement of Reformation theology.