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Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges [Paperback]

By Bruce L. McCormack (Editor)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   277
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.1" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801031311  
EAN  9780801031311  

Availability  70 units.
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Item Description...
A diverse group of international theologians explores the historical development and contemporary understanding(s) of the Protestant doctrine of justification.

Publishers Description
The last thirty years have seen much scholarly debate surrounding the Protestant doctrine of justification. These discussions have especially been fueled by the development of the "New Perspective on Paul," which goes against the traditional understanding of first-century Judaism as a legalistic and works-based system and so changes our understanding of Paul's writings on justification in the New Testament.
This major work presents a historical survey of the doctrine's development from the early church through the Reformation and on to today. Contributors include Henri Blocher, Tony Lane, Bruce McCormack, Carl Trueman, David Wright, and N. T. Wright. Though these distinguished authors have different perspectives, they approach the topic graciously, making for a constructive dialogue that will help pastors, students, and interested laypersons wrestle with this important theological issue.

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More About Bruce L. McCormack

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bruce L. McCormack (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary; Dr. theol. h.c., Friedrich Schiller University) is the Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. A world-renowned Barth scholar, he is a frequent writer and lecturer on topics of Reformed theology.

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Justification in Perspective  Dec 9, 2006
To begin with, the content of the book is arranged as follows:


PART 1: The Protestant Doctrine of Justification: The Heart of Protestant Preaching

1. Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference Sermon (Mark Bonnington)

PART 2: The Protestant Doctrine of Justification: Its Antecedents and Historical Development

2. Justification in the Early Church Fathers (Nick Needham)

3. Justification in Augustine (David F. Wright)

4. Simul Peccator et Justus: Martin Luther and Justification (Carl Trueman)

5. Calvin's Doctrine of Justification: Variations on a Lutheran Theme (Karla Wubbenhorst)

6. A Tale of Two Imperial Cities: Justification at Regensburg (1541) and Trent (1546-1547) (Anthony N.S. Lane)

7. Justification and the Ordo Salutis (A.T.B. McGowan)

PART 3: The Protestant Doctrine of Justification: Continuities and Discontinuities in Current Challenges to the Traditional View

8. Justitia Aliena: Karl Barth in Conversation with the Evangelical Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness (Bruce L. McCormack)

9. The Lutheran-Catholic Declaration on Justification (Henri A. Blocher)

10. The Doctrine of Justification in Paul and Beyond: Some Proposals (Simon Gathercole)

11. New Perspectives on Paul (N.T. Wright)


These essays "originated as lectures delivered at the tenth Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference" (p. 7) held in Scotland back in 2003. As stated by the editor of this volume, Dr. Bruce L. McCormack, the function of this collection of essays is to serve as "a progress report on the state of the Protestant doctrine of justification today in the midst of challenge and change." (p. 9) McCormack identifies all contributors as evangelical and Reformed (ibid.).

To be honest, my purpose in purchasing _Justification in Perspective_ was due to my interest in the so-called New Perspective on Paul (NPP), which I thought this volume would be dedicated to as per the title. That turned out to be not the case, but the book is very valuable nonetheless, especially if the reader is a non-specialist like myself, who has a less than adequate understanding of the historical development of the doctrine of justification within Protestant circles. Part 2 met this inadequacy by profiling the key theological players (see the reproduced table of contents above) through many references to, and quotations of, source documents.

What I took away from the historical survey is that the landscape of the doctrine of justification is somewhat "messy." The Protestant understanding of justification is not as smooth as is oft presented in popular books. Luther and Melancthon and Calvin, for example, are presented as having, at the very least, different emphases, if not unique understandings of justification. Yet the classical Protestant understanding of justification comes out loud and clear. Dr. A.T.B. McGowan says, "any understanding of justification that fails to maintain a forensic notion of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ cannot claim to be Reformed." (p. 163)

I very much enjoyed the chapters on the Regensburg Colloquy and the ordo salutis; the former because I was unaware of the Roman Catholic/Protestant discussion and agreement that existed prior to the Council of Trent; the latter because I was also unaware of the important role that one's ordo salutis plays in how (s)he understands justification.

Finally, to satisfy the N.T. Wright fans/opponents :), I'll offer a few remarks on his essay. Firstly, the NPP does not receive a lot of focus in this volume. In Chapter 10, Dr. Simon Gathercole deals with it at some length as the title suggests. But this interaction really involves only Wright and is both brief and minimal. Secondly, Wright makes a point of identifying himself as an evangelical, a Calvinist, and a Reformed theologian. Thirdly, Wright provides some autobiography in which he claims to have not been influenced by E.P. Sanders in his understanding of Romans and Galatians (cf. p. 245). From my perspective, it seems a little suspicious since Wright dates his epiphany to 1976 of which he says, "I think." But anyhow, let's move on. Fourthly, Wright takes very pointed - though not necessarily disrespectful - shots at his fellow contributors. For example, he says: "Here a Pauline exegesis rooted in Paul's own understanding of Jewish scripture and tradition must challenge the fuzzy thinking that, as evidenced in other essays contained in this volume, I discover characterized most of the great, but basically Latin-speaking, theologians." (p. 250) Fifthly, Wright has more than thing to say to opponents of the NPP. Here is one of his more colorful statements: "Like America looking for a new scapegoat after the collapse of the Cold War and seizing on the Islamic world as the obvious target, many conservative writers, having discovered themselves in possession of the Pauline field after the liberals tired of it, have looked around for new enemies. Here is something called the New Perspective; it seems to be denying some of the things we have normally taught; very well, let us demonize it, lump its propopents together, and nuke them from a great height." (p. 247) Finally, Wright emphasizes in his essay that his understanding of Paul is driven by his commitment to sola scriptura.

_Justification in Perspective_ is a book that any serious Protestant needs to read. The non-specialist will find that this book is not always an easy read, but definitely a worthwhile read. As with others, I eagerly await the specialist's response to this recent publication.

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