Many factors contributed to the Protestant Reformation, but one of the most significant was the debate over the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In fact, Martin Luther argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. This comprehensive volume of 26 essays from a host of scholars explores the doctrine of justification from the lenses of history, the Bible, theology, and pastoral practice―revealing the enduring significance of this pillar of Protestant theology.
The tide is definitely turning. No longer can it be taken for granted that the New Perspective has the last word on the ‘chief article.’ With essays by specialists in various fields, this volume is a wonderful defense of the gospel, and I heartily recommend it.
J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary
A thoughtful, thorough, and important set of essays on the current ‘state of the union’ on the perennial issue of justification by faith. The introductory essay by Matthew Barrett is worth the price of admission itself―outlining in detail the wide range of biblical-theological issues at stake in the current discussions about the nature of justification, now forty years on from the advent of the New Perspective on Paul. It is hard to imagine a single volume covering virtually every single aspect of the controversy surrounding Protestant―and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholic―scholarship on the doctrine, but this large collection of essays comes very close. This volume reflects well a core conviction throughout Reformed Protestantism that the Word must be heard afresh in every generation, most especially because it is the Word of Life. This book also takes seriously and graciously the voices of opposition. If you want to dive deep into the doctrine of justification, this volume ought to be at the top of your list.
Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Graham A. Cole
The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls is a sterling contribution to a biblically informed, theologically deep, historically sensitive, and pastorally astute engagement with the doctrine of justification by faith alone―sola fide. Controversies past and present relating to the doctrine are deftly explored, whether it is the Council of Trent on view or the New Perspective on Paul or the apocalyptic reading of Paul. An invaluable resource and stimulus to careful thought about a crucial doctrine provided by a galaxy of eminently able scholars.
Dean, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Into a world literally hell-bent on self-justification through better performance, the biblical doctrine of justification of sinners through faith in Jesus Christ brings a refreshing, ever re-creating breeze. In this volume, twenty-seven essays examine this doctrine from exegetical, systematic, historical, and practical perspectives. The authors stimulate readers to return to the rich resources of Scripture and enable them to proclaim God’s way of restoring sinners to their God-given relationship with their Creator. This volume provides readers with insights mined from the Bible and from the pastoral needs of people today, aiding personal reflection and material for bringing the saving presence of Christ into everyday life.
Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary
Thomas R. Schreiner
The breadth and depth of this new work on justification is quite astonishing. An array of scholars from various backgrounds assess the biblical witness, the theological profile, the historical backdrop, and the pastoral application of justification. A most impressive achievement.
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
J. Ligon Duncan III
We’ve just celebrated the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and at the same time have passed through about fifty years of questioning (and reformulation) of the classic Reformation doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This makes The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls timely indeed. As someone who has been engaged in both the academic and ecclesiastical defense of the historic Reformation doctrine, I welcome this sturdy volume. I have already learned much from the authors and will return to this book again as a resource as I continue to explain and address this crucial topic.
Chancellor, Reformed Theological Seminary
Robert W. Yarbrough
With a distinguished cast of scholars representing a wide range of competencies and traditions, this book ices the cake of the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Not only are the biblical data (Old and New Testaments) and Second Temple writings thoroughly covered, topics like the New Perspective, justification in Patristic writings, the Reformation, Roman Catholic teaching on justification, and justification since the rise of the Enlightenment all come under careful scrutiny. No new book can be declared a classic. Yet in an era when post-Christian Westerners―even in the church―have tended to devalue doctrine in exchange for the worship of experience, this book’s timely and skilled affirmations of doctrine generally and justification in particular make it a contender for classic status in coming years. It will not only inform but reinvigorate all careful readers desiring to plumb the depths of justification’s priceless truth.
Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
Thoroughly rooted in Scripture and classical Protestant theology, the essayists in The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls passionately and accessibly demonstrate the truth manifest in the classical Reformers’ commendation of the doctrine of justification by grace alone: God imputes Christ’s righteousness to sinners for Jesus’s sake. In light of current obfuscations of this doctrine from so many quarters―misplaced ecumenism, liberal Protestantism, and faulty exegesis―this book is a welcome, indeed vital, resource for all gospel preachers and teachers. This volume promises to carry forward the achievements of the Reformers beyond the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation to future generations.
Department Chair and Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Grand View University
Justification is ‘the heart of the matter,’ as Luther called it in his debate with Erasmus. Faith, church, and theology all depend on this doctrine. This topic thus needs attention and―although it sounds odd―deserves a great book like this one edited by Matthew Barrett. The wide spectrum of issues surrounding justification is opened up by a team of top scholars and is written down in a clear and sound biblical style. This book is a very helpful guide for students and pastors but will also help the Christian church rediscover why there is a church and what her core business is all about.
Professor of Church History, Theological University Apeldoorn
The doctrine of justification by faith alone was not invented by the Reformers of the sixteenth century, but it was the centerpiece of their program to renew the church on the basis of the Word of God. It remains no less crucial today. I welcome this new collection of essays―scholarly, substantial, engaging―which moves the discussion forward in a helpful way.
Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School