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The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Justification [Paperback]

By Paul A. Rainbow (Author)
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Item description for The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Justification by Paul A. Rainbow...

Martin Luther invented the Reformation slogan sola fide-"by faith alone"-which Philip Melanchthon and John Calvin brandished and defended. Most Protestants since their time have swallowed it whole. But is evangelical obedience-the good works that follow faith and are produced by grace-excluded from the basis for justification, or otherwise? Asserting "There is no more serious question bearing upon the destiny of human beings than how sinners can be justified before a Holy God", Paul Rainbow examines current and traditional treatments of faith, works and justification, marshals a biblical case majoring on the New Testament teaching of Paul and James, and offers a series of systematic, historical, and pastoral reflections.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Authentic
Pages   329
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.14 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2006
Publisher   AUTHENTIC UK
ISBN  1842273523  
ISBN13  9781842273524  

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More About Paul A. Rainbow

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul A. Rainbow (D.Phil., Oxford) is professor of New Testament at Sioux Falls Seminary. He is the author of The Pith of the Apocalypse (Wipf & Stock, 2008) and The Way of Salvation(Wipf & Stock, 2012).

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Way of Salvation?

A provocative, holistic construction of justification  Jun 7, 2007
There is no end to the writing of books on justification, but this volume merits special attention. The Way of Salvation, returning to the Augustinian perspective on double justification and the place of works in the life of faith, tackles soteriology with a rare confidence and holism. Its synthesis risks offending most branches of the Christian communion, but forcefully advocates a biblical and ecumenical option.

Dr. Paul Rainbow writes primarily to a Protestant audience, sifting through the mountainous corpus of the Pauline writings and the tumultuous history of the Reformation. He claims that Protestant churches have swallowed whole the doctrine of sola fide, salvation by faith alone, which historically too often includes an antinomian corollary. By separating justification and sanctification into two exclusive movements of grace, faith and works were put at odds with each other (James be damned). Sanctification supposedly had no bearing on justification, despite the abundance of biblical texts teaching that we all will judged for our works (Isa 66:18, Mt 25:31ff., Rom 2:13, 2 Cor 5:10, Rev 22:12, etc.). Luther, Calvin and others wanted to protect the imputation of Christ's righteousness, keeping Christians from enslavement to the Law. Says Rainbow, "This was correct as far as it went, though it created an artificial hiatus between righteousness (forensic) and deeds (ethical) which impaired understanding of the Christian walk following conversion" (175). Such division "runs afoul of the biblical data," and "champions the complete reality of the universal [formal righteousness found in Christ] apart from particulars" (229). In contrast, Rainbow proposes that Christians see sanctification as a subset of justification, a movement of God's grace that results in our ultimate declaration of righteousness. Just as justification begins the life of deeds done in the power of the Spirit, so this sanctification factors into our final justification. In his words: "If, then, inaugural justification clears the way for regeneration to take place and the process of sanctification to begin, final justification will set a seal on all that grace has achieved in transforming the believer" (238). Though overly critical of Calvin, Rainbow rightly challenges the tendency of Protestantism to abrogate the full spectrum of salvation, and this spectrum's interpenetration with justification.

The Way of Salvation pushes hard for this reconstruction of the ordo salutis. Most Protestants will find themselves uncomfortable with the lengths the book goes to argue this. In a bold move, the author claims that the epistle of James takes exegetical priority, being a clearer text than the Pauline writings. He therefore accuses Luther and Calvin of either dismissing the epistle or subjugating it under theological predispositions. This hardly seems equitable, as Rainbow admits that James is responding to abuses of the Pauline evangel, and later interprets James 2:17's dismissal of "faith alone" to be understood under the complex dialectic of "essence and existence" (226). How is this plainer than Paul? The Way of Salvation's careful (and enormous) compilation of biblical texts, however, is difficult to do away with. Justification and sanctification must relate, and not superficially.

This is not to say that Rainbow is willing to throw himself in with Tridentine soteriologists. He appreciates the Augustinian perspective, but finds Roman Catholic emphasis on "infused righteousness" dangerously lopsided. Rome's myopic attention to infusion of love into the heart of particular saints suffers from Aristotelian presuppositions, unable to appreciate the general righteousness found in Christ. The Council of Trent tragically "rule[d] out imputation outright" (229), a debilitating decision for future soteriology.

Is the idea of "future justification" really all that much of a threat to sola fide? Having read Rainbow's take on it, I generally think not. Protestants too often get entrapped by the phrase, "the finished work of Christ," which places undue focus on the past, objectified moment of his crucifixion. That the Christian faith revolves more fundamentally around Christ's resurrection and ongoing life helps to free from past-oriented interpretations of sola fide. The eschatological program in The Way of Salvation permits the broader perspective of salvation in the context of the "here but not yet." Rainbow at his best says, "Imputation puts believers on a sure course to final justification and eternal life, provided that the very God whose will it was to find in sinners' favour at the cross also wills to refashion them after the image of his Son" (211). But later Rainbow equivocates on Christian assurance (ch.19), which makes the idea of faithful-works-based future justification unpalatable. If God does not guarantee the workings of his own Spirit in our hearts until the final Day, are we not in some key sense left with a reliance on ourselves? The book's theology is not sufficiently purged of its synergistic temperament. I found myself challenged and inspired - but troubled. Is The Way of Salvation really portraying a righteousness that "originates and terminates in faith" (Rom 1:17)?

Rainbow, while taking an unpopular position in Protestantism, is not alone. "Justification by evangelical obedience" may only show glimmers in the likes of Calvin and Edwards, but Melanchthon, George Major, Bucer, Richard Hooker, and John Wesley promote the doctrine more overtly. Not least, this was the sentiment of the joint statement on justification at Regensburg (1541), which Rainbow calls all Christians to re-entertain.

Overall, this volume merits high praise. Its contribution to biblical theology, particularly Pauline studies, makes it entirely worthwhile. Even detractors will find its argumentation provocative, its resources useful, and the biblical data impressive.

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