Category Archives: A Faith that Is Never Alone

Justification: forging a consensus

This is a pretty interesting article. If you decide to buy the book (which you should) and read my essay (which you might want to do after you read the others), you might compare my take on Turretin to the one found in the article. You will find, I think, a sizable divergence from the same source.

(I also found it odd that he used a Clarkian as a guide to doctrine without warning readers of the problems involved, or that he relied on dust cover blurbs rather than Reformed academic reviews to decide on quality.)

[Note: I’m having second comments on how I phrased my worries below, be sure to read the comments.]

One more serious problem , however: the article actually attempts to lead the careful reader away from the reformed consensus by suggesting that it “helps to avoid considerable confusion over the precise relationship between justification and faith” if we make “objective justification” actually precede faith rather than be instrumentally received by faith:

That justification which takes place objectively within the tribunal of God (active justification) logically precedes faith. This is the basis for passive justification in the heart or conscience of the sinner which logically follows faith. The latter is the normal referent of the Scriptural terminology of justification. This important distinction, absent from Lutheran thought, helps to avoid considerable confusion over the precise relationship between justification and faith. It also helps to explain the difference between the objective fact of justification coram deo (before God) and the subjective and imperfect feeling of grace in the heart of the believer; and to enable a distinction to be made in the application of redemption to adults and children.

I suppose Reymond may have taught this (though I will think better of him until I see it for myself), but I doubt the rest of the writer’s references support his claim. It is, in any case, not the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which affirms one justification, not two, and says this justification before God is by faith. It is, I think, quite significant, that Westminster sets out an easily-understandable explanation for how we receive justification by faith, so they don’t have to, in effect, deny the doctrine.

I’m sure the author is a great pastor and I am not going to make an opinion of him on the basis of one essay. But I have to say what seems self-evident: If you don’t affirm justification by faith then you don’t affirm justification by faith alone. I think the writer needs to put back together what he is separating here.

A Faith That Is Never Alone: A Response to Westminster Seminary California

Buy it Today!

No Nudity and “In all of this the demand of obedience in the Mosaic covenant is principially identical with the same demand in the new covenant of the gospel economy.”

Here is a great excerpt from Norman Sheperd’s essay in the new book, A Faith That Is Never Alone: A Response to Westminster Seminary California. If you’re a Christian who wants to learn more about the Bible, salvation, and be led through the confusion that besets North American fundamentalism regarding the Old and New Testaments, I highly recommend it.

My own contribution, however, unlike the other great essays dealing with the Bible, is simply a historical study. Pure “tradition of the elders” citations and not much more that would be of more use to Christians in general outside my own sociological circle. But don’t let that stop you since I am only a few pages in a book with many great contributions in Biblical scholarship.

I should say, however, that my essay could easily have been much longer. I don’t think I even mentioned John Murray. Yet here is a great essay by Murray that shows he was truly the student of Zacharias Ursinus, Francis Turretin and others whom I discuss in my essay. Murray’s essay could easily have been included in the book. It would fit quite well among the other writings. I highly recommend it.

By the way, when you come to the numbered points and the end of Murray’s essay, you might notice the content sounds really familiar.