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By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification [Paperback]

By Gary L. Johnson (Editor), Guy P. Waters (Editor) & David F. Wells (Contribution by)
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Item description for By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification by Gary L. Johnson, Guy P. Waters & David F. Wells...

A thorough look at the false and empty doctrines that are attacking evangelicalism's commitment to one of its key doctrines--sola fide, by faith alone.

Publishers Description

The Reformation swept across Europe with a God-glorifying gospel of grace. Now the doctrine of grace cherished and proclaimed by the Reformers is under renewed assault from an unexpected place--the evangelical church itself.

With the help of several theologians, Gary L. W. Johnson and Guy P. Waters trace the background and development of two seemingly disparate movements that have surfaced within the contemporary church-the New Perspective(s) on Paul and the Federal Vision-and how they corrupt the truth of salvation by faith alone. By regaining a focus on the doctrine of grace, pastors, seminarians, and future leaders can regain the cohesion, coherence, and direction to truly build the church to withstand the attacks of false and empty doctrines.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Crossway Books
Pages   219
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.67 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2007
ISBN  1581348401  
ISBN13  9781581348408  

Availability  0 units.

More About Gary L. Johnson, Guy P. Waters & David F. Wells

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Gary L. W. Johnson (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Mesa, Arizona. He has written for Table Talk, Modern Reformation, and the Westminster Theological Journal.

Guy Prentiss Waters (PhD, Duke University) is the James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, and was formerly an associate professor of biblical studies at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Guy and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

David Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is a distinguished research professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of a number of books, some of which have been translated into many different languages. He is a member of the John Stott Ministries board, where he has worked to bring theological education to church leaders in developing countries. He is also actively involved in working to build orphanages and provide educational opportunities for victims of civil wars and AIDS in Africa. David and his wife, Jane, live in Massachusetts.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the ninth president of Southern Seminary and as the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology. Considered a leader among American evangelicals by Time and Christianity Today magazines, Dr. Mohler hosts a daily radio program for the Salem Radio Network and also writes a popular daily commentary on moral, cultural, and theological issues. Both can be accessed at

Richard D. Phillips (DD, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He chairs the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology and coedits the Reformed Expository Commentary. He is also a chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, a council member of the Gospel Coalition, and a trustee of Westminster Theological Seminary.

David VanDrunen (PhD, Loyola University Chicago) is the Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California.

E. Calvin Beisner (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is a spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and an author and speaker on the application of the biblical worldview to economics, government, and environmental policy. He is a ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and has written over ten books and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs.

John Bolt (PhD, University of St. Michael's College) is professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author and editor of several books. John and his wife, Ruth, have three children and nine grandchildren.

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Reviews - What do customers think about By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification?

A Must-Read: a scholarly exploration of the biblical teaching on justification  Dec 17, 2008
This is a book of scholarly papers by theologians with a traditional
Reformed understanding of the doctrine of justification which
interacts with recent challenges to that doctrine. The papers are well
written, the book nicely typeset, and footnotes are where they belong
... at the bottom of the page they are referenced on. There is a
Scripture index and a Subject/Name index.

The Foreword is by David F. Wells, and in it he argues that there
three streams in contemporary evangelicalism, the orthodox; the
marketers (pragmatists who while not denying orthodoxy, often keep it
out of sight as they package Christianity for `seekers'); and the
emerging church, which seems to be against doctrinal clarity (or
denies that it is possible). This is a passionate appeal for the
Reformation of evangelicalism, and perhaps in places is more
passionate than fair.

The first chapter is by Guy Prentiss Waters, and is entitled
`Introduction: Whatever Happened to Sola Fide?'. This sketches the two
principle contemporary challenges to the Reformed doctrine of
justification: the New Perspective(s) on Paul, and the Federal Vision.

The second paper is by Cornelis P. Venema, and is entitled `What Did
Saint Paul Really Say? N.T. Wright and the New Perspective(s) on
Paul.' This is a good and fair (if short) treatment of the New
Perspective(s) on Paul, focusing in particular on the subtle position
of N.T. Wright, who is a powerful advocate of one strand of the `New
Perspective on Paul'. Venema sketches the debate, and points out
important areas where the New Perspective positions are
problematic. Venema is clearly drawing upon the various books he has
written on this subject, and such mastery of the debate shows, and
makes this an important short treatment of the debate. It is a pity
that the timing of this book meant that John Piper's more substantial
treatment of Wright's position could not be interacted with.

The third paper is by T. David Gordon, and is entitled `Observations
on N.T. Wright's Biblical Theology With Special Consideration of
`Faithfulness of God'.' Gordon helpfully takes on Wright on his own
ground of `Biblical Theology', and shows the inadequacy of Wright's
reduction of God's righteousness to `covenantal faithfulness'.

The fourth paper is by Richard D. Phillips, and is entitled `A
Justification of Imputed Righteousness'. In this, Phillips reviews the
recent debate between Arminians and the Reformed over whether
justification involves the imputation of Christ's righteousness
(passive or active). One good feature of this paper is that Phillips
interacts with D.A. Carson's important paper (`The Vindication of
Imputation', published in `Justification: What's at stake in the
Current Debates', 2004) which responds to the Arminian
arguments. Phillips also tackles New Perspective critiques of
imputation. An important overview of the current debate, and
a helpful rebuttal of the challenges.

The fifth paper is by C. FitzSimons Allison, and is entitled `The
Foundation Term for Christian Salvation: Imputation.' This is a
profoundly important essay which traces the deleterious impact of
imagining that we can stand before God with anything other than the
perfect righteousness of Jesus. In particular, Allison explores how
the whole concept of `sin' has to be down played in Roman Catholic
thought (and in other systems) to make our imperfect obedience or
`faith' the ground of our acceptance with God. Insightful and

The sixth paper is by T. David Gordon, and is entitled `Reflections on
Auburn Theology.' Auburn Theology or `Federal Vision', for those not
in the know, is a rag-bag term for the teachings of various `Reformed
Revisionists' associated with Auburn Avenue. Gordon, who has some
sympathies for the aims of the Federal Vision apologists, does a
sterling job of exposing some of the poor theology behind this
vision. In particular, he shows how they fail to take the plurality of
biblical covenants into account, and traces this monocovenantalism back
to John Murray. He acknowledges, however, that Murray was kept from
the mistakes of the Federal Vision by maintaining the historic federal
understanding of Adam's representative role. This paper unfortunately
does do as good a job as it could have done in orienting the newcomer
to what actually the Auburn Theology is about.

The seventh paper is by David VanDrunen, and is entitled `To Obey is
Better Than Sacrifice: A Defence of the Active Obedience of Christ in
the Light of Recent Criticism.' This paper traces the Reformed
teaching that justification involves the imputation of the active
obedience of Christ and discusses the Federal Vision and New
Perspective rejections of it. Helpfully, he traces a cause of this
rejection to a view that perfect obedience to the Law is not required
by God for eternal life, advocated by scholars such as
E.P. Sanders. VanDrunen exegetes the Pauline passages which talk about
God's righteousness, and shows how they contribute to the debate. He
concludes that the active obedience of Christ is important not only
for justification and the work of Christ, but for the character of God
and the nature of man. A super essay.

The eighth paper is by R. Fowler White, and E. Calvin Beisner, and is
entitled `Covenant, Inheritance, and Typology: Understanding the
Principles at Work in God's Covenants'. This is a tour de force of
exegetical treatment of the biblical covenants, especially focusing on
the relationships between them. The relationship between the Covenant
of Works and the Mosaic Covenant are explored, and the differences
between them and the Abrahamic, Davidic and New covenants are

The ninth paper is by John Bolt, and is entitled `Why the Covenant of
Works in a Necessary Doctrine: Revisiting the Objections to a
Venerable Reformed Doctrine'. Bolt provides an important defence of
the Covenant of Works by collecting and answering the various
objections that `Reformed' theologians have advanced against it.

The tenth paper is by Gary L. Johnson, and is entitled `The
Reformation, Today's Evangelicals, and Mormons: What Next?' In this
Johnson documents how doctrinally vacuous some definitions of
evangelicalism are, and shows how this allows some Catholics and even
some Mormons(!) to claim to be evangelicals.

There is an afterword by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., entitled `A Change in
the Audience, Not in the Drama'. In this helpful essay Mohler argues
that traditional Reformed gospel is facing a new audience, namely
contemporary evangelicalism, and that many are impatient with aspects
of it. He concludes with the following observation: `We can only hope
and pray that contributions like this important volume can help to
awaken evangelicalism to its doctrinal peril. Otherwise, nothing
genuinely evangelical will remain of evangelicalism.' To which this
reviewer can only add his heartfelt, `Amen!'

I have become increasingly convinced that the doctrine of
justification by faith alone must play a central role in our preaching
and teaching. Failure to explain it will lead our hearers into thinking
that it is something that they do which will win them acceptance with
God. This book is a helpful and inspiring aid to treating justification

Two recent books which helpfully supplement this one with further
scholarly treatment of the doctrine of justification by faith from a
traditional Reformed perspective are R. Scott Clark (ed), `Covenant,
Justification and Pastoral Ministry: Essays By the Faculty of
Westminster Seminary California', P. and R. (Phillipsburg: New
Jersey), 2007 and Oliphint (ed), `Justified in Christ: God's Plan for
Us in Justification', Mentor (Fearn: Scotland), 2007. All
three are worth reading.

Battle Call: Defend Luther's Doctrine Of Justification  Nov 17, 2008
'There are those who see in this the passing of historical orthodoxy, and this is something that they mourn.' pg 13 David F Wells, Foreword

David F Wells sets off to trace the origin of the smoking gun, delivering an introduction that is unputdownable. Making shrewd observations and weaving the intricacies of the post-modern attempt at upending the Reformation principle, By Faith Alone, he persuasively engineers the scope of the book. The incumbent attention to scriptural detail that follows is sure to secure the Reformation position in Scripture alone, thereby placing it beyond all doubt.

NT Wright is in the cross-hairs. The bishop of Durham, the home of strange sightings, has epitomized the latitudinarian spirit of the age. His writings are popular, thought-provoking and unconventional, yet sorely abandoning an approach to inspiration, propitiation, imputation and justification, constituting mea culpa. Ecclesiology, or the 'Sitz Im Leben', or cultural setting, is frequently seen to take precedence in his ahistorical folklore of the unfolding covenants and God's renewed grace. Equality being the norm these days, the Federal Vision is also on the receiving end of some scathing rebuke.

Cornelis P Venema opens fire by challenging the obscure parentage of the New Perspective on Paul: James Dunn and EP Sanders, who substantiated a hypothesis of an intricate legalistic community in Second Temple Judaism, so fundamental to post-modern form critical scholarship. Yet is it not just Pelagianism cloaked in a new garb? Is Paul not too clear on his position? Venema would seem to think so, making a sound refutation from Romans 1-5, and Galatians 3.

T David Gordon makes the astonishing find that NT Wright's estimation of God's wrath only goes as far back as Abraham, and thereby denies sin's origin being in Genesis 3, further denying any concept of total depravity. This fault-line wreaks havoc on the New Perspective's views of 'the righteousness of God', so beloved of Luther and the Reformation fathers.

If the imputed righteousness of Christ to saved sinners be denied, on what basis are we to be reckoned justified before a holy God? Richard D Phillips pronounces the flawed teachings of especially Arminian and the NPP academics untenable to our faith, by showing that the perfect obedience of Christ is the ground for our justification before God.

John Bolt makes perceptive expositions of Scripture, accumulating in what can only be phrased as a question: if God did not institute a creation covenant of works, why did a curse follow Adam and Eve's failure to comply? And are Genesis 6 and 9 not a re-statement of the same conditions of the creation covenant?

Gary L W Johnson's contribution is certainly the defining statement of this collection.

'Throughout Millet's book he seeks to make common cause with groups across the broad evangelical landscape - especially those identified with the pentecostal-charismatic wing of evangelicalism...because Mormonism insists on additional inscripturated revelation...Roman Catholics certainly believe an ongoing form of heavenly guidance comes through such means as papal encyclicals...people within Protestantism believe that spiritual gifts, such as the speaking and interpretation of tongues, is one means by which Deity communicates His will to individuals and groups.' pg 199

Unafraid to state his convictions, unafraid to challenge those who insist we change our distinctive Reformational position, and unafraid to call those to stop pretending to be parading in the beautiful attire of evangelicalism, (even reputable publishers, learned professors and charismatic persona) when they are, in fact, buck-naked! Would more theologians take issue with the truth as he has!

Let us not compromise our Reformed heritage, which was won through hard fought battles, and if need be, should be done so again, the Lord willing.
A Challenge to the "New Perspective" On Paul  Oct 20, 2008
By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification (Crossway, 2006) is a collection of essays that challenges the New Perspective on Paul, as well as the Federal Vision controversy that is currently raging in Reformed circles. Gary Johnson and Guy Waters do an admirable job of bringing together the diverse contributions from the authors into one readable book.

Most of the chapters deal directly with N.T. Wright's theological outlook, critiquing his exegesis and subsequent theological conclusions. A couple chapters focus more on the Federal Vision, and several chapters serve more as "filler," with general information on the covenants and typology.

There is much in the critique of Wright that is to be commended. Wright notoriously brings background theology to the forefront and shifts forefront theology to the background, and he is taken to task for some of his weak exegesis. At other points, the authors argue more from Reformed tradition instead of Scripture alone, which buttresses somewhat Wright's contention that many in the Reformed camp are more tied to their traditions and doctrinal statements than to the truly Reformed principle of sola Scriptura. The book gets bogged down in minute details of theological precision at times, making even the conditioned theological reader scratch his head and wonder, "Is that really that big a deal?" But sometimes, the stark differences between the two views come clearly to the surface, reminding us all what the debate is about.

A good essay/book to read alongside By Faith Alone is John Frame's "Within the Bounds of Orthodoxy" - for another revered Reformed theologian's take on the issues at stake and whether or not the differing views are necessarily mutually exclusive.
Solid book  Sep 8, 2008
Like most edited works, some chapters are great and some really aren't all that good. But on the whole, it's an excellent read for someone seeking to understand better the current ecclesiastical climate surrounding justification by faith alone.

The chapters that are especially good are the two by T. David Gordon. Even if you just bought the book for those to contributions, it would be worth every penny.
A Book of Essays  Nov 26, 2007
This is a book of essays - nine in all (ten, if you count the introduction by Guy Waters) - responding to recent challenges to the historic Reformed understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, concentrating on the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision, but also engaging the classic Arminian position and Mormonism.

As might be expected from a book that consists of essays by various authors, the book is a little uneven. Some essays seem to be written with the interested lay person in mind, and others assumed much more prior knowledge on the part of the reader. In addition, since the essays were originally intended to stand alone, there is a fair bit of repetition of ideas and arguments.

That means there were essays I enjoyed reading, those that were beyond me, and those I just wasn't interested in. The first two essays engage the writings of N. T. Wright. While I found the explanations and arguments in these two chapters very interesting, I don't think I know enough about the issues to judge them. I also enjoyed several essays defending imputed righteousness and the active obedience of Christ, because this is a doctrine that seems to come up in discussions occasionally, and it was helpful to see it defended from scripture. The essays related to the Auburn Avenue or Federal Vision controversy were mostly beyond me. I'm not Presbyterian, and I don't know enough about the issues to even understand the essays.

If you are like me, and a bit of a novice on these issues, you might need a little more background knowledge before you would find this book completely useful, but if you are up on these things, my uneducated guess is that you'll find this to be a valuable book.

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