Zondervan ISBN 9780310515784
Adult Rating: *5
Author Thomas Schreiner provides a good summation of the book on page 179: “… this book is an introduction and a tour through the doctrine of justification –historically, biblically, and theologically…” This is precisely what the book provides.
In the first section of the book, the author moves the reader through samples of the writings of the early church fathers, culminating with the views of Augustine. The historical tour continues through the Reformers, consisting of an exposition of their understanding of the doctrine of justification as well their unique formulations of the doctrine. The reaction of the Council of Trent is also considered. The tour progresses through Puritan authors such as John Owen and Richard Baxter, among others. The section concludes by considering the views of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley.
The next section considers the biblical evidence for the doctrine of justification by faith alone and its theological implications. This is where the author truly begins to hit his stride. As a professor of New Testament as well as associate dean of Scripture and Interpretation, Schreiner allows his expertise and facility with the biblical text really shine through in this section. His tone is consistently irenic. He sets out his opponents’ position very well and then begins to refute that position. However, this is not done in a polemical tirade but a point-by-point, reasoned refutation.
The final section of the book considers how Sola Fide (faith alone) is being challenged currently in New Testament studies. The work of N. T. Wright is highlighted for special attention. Once again, Schreiner does not simply find fault. On several occasions, he voices his appreciation for the work of Wright and points out specific insights that Wright’s scholarship has given to him. In the end, however, Schreiner is setting forth a historical, biblical, and theological argument that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the most biblically faithful understanding of how man can be justified before God. The short concluding chapter to the book makes abundantly clear that the author holds to a Reformed understanding of the doctrine.
This book is highly recommended. Though intended as an introduction, it is not a light read and will challenge most readers. However, it is written in such a way that it does not presume any specialized knowledge on the part of the reader. In other words, if one is interested in the topic, this book would be a great resource for exploration. This book would be a welcome addition to public or private libraries. It also would likely function very well in group study.
Michael Wilhelm, CLJ