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The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance [Paperback]

By Thomas R. Schreiner (Author) & Ardel B. Caneday (Author)
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Item description for The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance by Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday...

In this explanation of the biblical theology of perserverance and assurance, Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday weigh and consider all of the relevant New Testament texts. Applying sound principles of biblical interpretation and conversing with recent evangelical thought, they give us a foundational study with profound spiritual implications for Christian living and pastoral ministry.

Publishers Description
Discipline. Endurance. Perseverance. The New Testament often describes the Christian life as a marathon, a race set before us. But what exactly is the prize? Do all those completing the race share in it? And can the prize be lost? Tackling these and other vexing questions, Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday offer in this book a serious, exegetical wrestling with the biblical understanding of the nature of saving faith and its implications for the people of God. Here is a foundational study that considers all of the relevant New Testament texts and that weighs the meaning of those texts for both Christian living and pastoral ministry.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: InterVarsity Press
Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.06" Height: 1.01"
Weight:   1.03 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 28, 2012
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830815554  
ISBN13  9780830815555  

Availability  149 units.
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More About Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday

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Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Thomas R. Schreiner currently resides in Louisville, in the state of Kentucky.

Thomas R. Schreiner has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 9Marks
  2. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  3. Biblical Theology Christian Proclamation Commentary
  4. Counterpoints: Bible & Theology
  5. Five Solas
  6. New American Commentary New Testament
  7. New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology
  8. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on New Testament

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Soteriology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > Doctrines

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance?

Run To Win, You Foolish Galatians!  Sep 24, 2007
This work is for those who find reason to doubt that we may be sure of our salvation. In no uncertain terms, does it interact with the individual's faith, precisely where it matters most: the end of our faith - our salvation.

The professor's of this book have decidedly not meant to reform the 'Reformed' view of salvation, to some's dismay. They only present it in a fuller sense, by exacting the 4 major views to biblical exegesis and scriptural soundness.

'We are perfect forever thru Christ's sacrifice, yet we are in the process of being "made holy".' pg 73

I too would like to add my voice to those who say that this book was a major contributor to their understanding of the perseverance of the saints, tied in to their assurance of their salvation. The warning verses are then seen to be exhortationary. This work is presented very clearly and does much to make the faith a practical walk, whereby we may walk by the Spirit. The running bit is scriptural too!

'Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything.' 1 Cor 9:25
Warnings as Part of God's Grace for Endurance  Oct 11, 2004
Schreiner and Caneday make their contribution here to the questions surrounding the interpretion of biblical `warning texts.' They contend that warnings in Scripture actually serve to *help* the believer endure `until the end' in faith and obedience. Hence this book refrains from assuming that warnings serve mainly to explain what is and isn't possible for a Christian, and instead understands the warnings to have a primarily transformative purpose. That is, we must see the warnings as being meant to foster the behavioral changes they demand. Another way of saying this would be that we can view warnings as performing the `reproof' and `correction' roles that Paul ascribes to `Scripture' in 2 Tim 3.16.

The authors argue that warnings `extend the initial call of the gospel' throughout the believer's life after conversion. Schreiner and Caneday view assurances and warnings as two sides to the same coin, inspiring confidence for endurance on the one hand, and warning against failure to endure on the other. While warnings do reveal that salvation will be granted only to those who endure in faith and obedience, this doesn't at all imply that they're meant to indicate whether the Spirit-indwelt person can actually fail to endure. The authors hold that warnings do not function to verify whether a believer may `lose salvation.' It is rather the popular contemporary debate over `keeping/losing salvation' that shades many interpretations of warning texts. Assuming that warnings have to establish or disallow a necessary permanence of conversion, interpreters and readers create a polarized debate in which nearly every party (the authors outline four) seems to marginalize one dimension of biblical evidence in favor of another. Such are the results obtained by the rigid insistence that warnings must explain whether salvation may be `lost.'

Pace this conviction, which to me reflects an overly constricted surface reading of biblical texts, Schreiner and Caneday advocate an approach that makes no such assumption about Scripture's warnings. Instead, they argue that warnings should be understood as statements intended by their authors to correct wrong behavior and induce enduring obedience of God. Warnings therefore aren't contradictory to God's grace for perseverance. Quite the contrary, warnings actually constitute an active and effective *part* of His work of grace, because they perform a continual transforming work in all who are indwelt by God's Spirit. Additionally, warnings don't call the believer to examine his present behavior and make a determination about whether or not his initial conversion was `genuine.' They rather call the believer to continue in faith and obedience, looking to the crucified and risen Christ for hope and strength, in view of the eschatological reward that `God has promised to all who love Him' (Jas 1.12; 2.5).

I believe Schreiner and Caneday have successfully grasped the bigger picture which motivated the earliest leaders of the apostolic faith. There is more to the biblical witness than `logical facts' that seek merely to explain what is and isn't true. The NT writings weren't composed by men sitting behind desks in comfortable studies, hidden safely behind the walls of universities in `free' countries, interested merely in finding solutions to abstract problems and contriving intellectual assurances for people whose struggles climaxed in seeking romantic relationships and social acceptance. The apostolic leaders were confronted with radical, profound problems, often consisting in grueling and ominous sufferings. Yet they knew that the restoring work of God in creation, initiated at the cross, concretizes in the changed lives of those whose hearts He has circumcised by His Spirit. They thus faced a leadership challenge of tremendous proportions. How can obedient behavior be fostered in people who face severe consequences for that very behavior? God, who will judge the world in righteousness, demands righteousness of those who would desire to be saved, not condemned, by His judgment (1 Jn 3.4-15). What tool is there for a leader that will operate in harmony with God's Spirit and gospel to inspire enduring courage and strength in single-minded submission to God?

Schreiner and Caneday find the answer to this question lies not only in Scripture's promises, but also in its warnings. Since the warnings extend the gospel's initial call to faith, the same faith that affirms God's promises also affirms His warnings, spurring obedient action in the believer. It is the unbeliever, not the believer, who will ignore Scripture's warnings and persist in sin. It is the believer, not the unbeliever, who will benefit from Scripture's warnings, being corrected and saved by them (Jas 1.18, 21). Warnings reinforce faith's massive vision of reality that concerns God and His work in this universe. The end is not yet, nor is death the end of all things. God is operative in creation at every instant, preparing all things for His end purposes: wickedness for punishment, righteousness for vindication; destruction of the corrupt and futile universe, renewal and establishment of God's good order. Justice will prevail, and paradoxically is prevailing now, even through the injustice of this world (divinely used to incapacitate corrupt `flesh'; 1 Pet 4). Endurance, even when it obtains persecution and death, is victory because it establishes that the individual's stance is with God, not against Him. To abandon faith and obedience is to join with the world against God. By contrast, God and His reward are found only by those who persevere in seeking Him. This warning-revealed reality countermands insistences of dying `flesh' that there are valid excuses for giving up on faith and obedience, and strengthens agreement with God's Spirit that righteous behavior is what must persist in this life. And all the while, the Spirit's empowering work concretely demonstrates the sufficiency of divinely promised grace for all endurance. The guarantee of the promise is realized through the work of the warning. Thus faith's victory arises from faith's vision of reality.

Just as such reality was instrumental for apostolic leaders in inspiring firm, enduring faith and obedience, likewise Schreiner and Caneday capitalize on it to challenge believers today to an endurance of apostolic quality. Book strongly recommended!
The logic doesn't hold up  Jul 31, 2004
Overall I liked the book for the intellectual stimulation, but I think their conclusions could lead one astray, so 2 stars.

After evaluating several viewpoints on perseverance, the authors present one that claims to be unique (but really isn't). They see warnings and conditions as working with promises to result in a positive result in the believer. Sorry, this won't work: A warning is a warning. It can have a positive or a negative impact, and it must elicit a fear type response to have its effect. The outcome promotes a sense of uncertainty, not certainty, within the believer (assuming, as the authors do, that the warnings actually pertain to a believer's possession of salvation).

Their position is just a re-worded Lordship Salvation, a salvation based on works. They say their position is not "salvation-by-works" but you decide: pg.97 "...because our deeds show what we truly believe, when God judges us he will assess our behavior and, in keeping with that behavior, will either reward us with eternal life or pour out his wrath on us." Later, on the same page, "Such perseverance is not a works-righteousness." !! Then what is it? Zane Hodges exposes this double-talk in his books on Lordship Salvation.

If I buy in to the author's conclusions, how could I ever have peace? If my salvation will be judged by MY faithfulness, instead of CHRIST'S faithfulness, I've got a lot to worry about. How many works do I have to do to have assurance/peace? 30, 40, 50 (Am I close yet?), 60, 70? Give me a number and I'll do it (Holy Monkery, Batman!). Of course, I'm being silly, but that silliness exposes the fatal flaw of Lordship Salvation. To paraphrase Calvin, "The moment I've taken my eyes off Christ and look at myself, the battle is already lost." Amen.

To be fair, the Scriptures are incredibly difficult to understand and interpret. All exegetical positions have problems. I am thankful to the authors for giving me somthing to ponder and I appreciate their efforts. I just think their conclusions will lead some believers to take their eyes off of Christ and lead them down a road of doubt.
A Catholic Perspective  May 3, 2004
I read this book as a Calvinist nearly a month before my conversion to the Catholic Church, ironically. The authors make a superb biblical analysis on the process of salvation, and it not being just a one time event. This opened me up to Catholic soteriology. The reason I gave these guys 4 stars is because I disagree with doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, (among other things) but I do think they argued for most things superbly. A job well done to the authors.

I would recommend "Not By Faith Alone", by Robert Sungenis...he makes the same conclusions as these guys on the process of salvation, but takes biblical warnings not as conditional, but actual, as in, they could actually happen to a soul.

The Calvinist Giveth, and the Calvinist Taketh Away...  Sep 25, 2003
After hearing that this book was essentially the book to read concerning the doctrine of final perseverence, I was excited to read this book and hoped to be intellectually stimulated by their arguments even though I, as a Catholic, don't see eye-to-eye with their viewpoint. There were several strong points to their arguments, but ultimately those were concerning points which I was already in agreement with the authors.

To start, I thought the authors made excellent points with the irenic tone of the book, the necessity of enduring faith and obedience. This is a topic in which polemics frequently get very nasty, very quickly and the book wisely avoided this route and sought to go for the hard biblical evidence. Secondly, they did a good job of debunking the major planks of the "free grace" position (only a single act of faith secures salvation forever, sans obedience love and even continuing belief). Its nice to see Protestants affirm the fact that Jesus wasn't kidding when he told the rich young man he had to obey the commandments to inherit eternal life or that people have to "endure to the end" to be saved.

Moreover, I thought the authors did an excellent job of pointing out that salvation in the New Testament is primarily an escahtological event rather than a one-time occurance.

So why the 3 star review?

Basically, if you wanted to be convinced of the truth of the Calvinist doctrine of perseverence than this is probably not the book for you. The authors spend most of their time debunking the "free grace" position than actually proving the case for eternal security. Consequently, their reading of Romans 8:29-39 and John 6 & 10 go basically unchallenged when there are perfectly logical explanations for each text.

In addition, the main framework with which they view salvation (the already/not-yet tension in soteriology in the NT) is primarily viewed in contrast to the free grace position. The authors don't show how their view of the tension contrasts with those who deny Perseverence of the Saints, but still agree that such a tension exists. Frankly, I cannot see how they find any "not-yet" in their tension when all that falls in that category inevitably will happen. This leads the authors to numerous vacillations between the trying to keep the unconditional election unconditional and the contional perseverence conditional. It ultimately leads them to make the conditional perseverence clauses subservient to the unconditional promises (something the authors repeatedly condemn Arminians and "free grace" theologians for).

The use of warning and admonition texts was also extremely selective, as one reviewer noted. This becomes painfully obvious when the author, while pointing to the enduring nature of the faith in Hebrews 11, fails to note the faith that failed to endure to the end, that of Israel (hebrews 11:29). This also colors their view of the NT texts that speak of Israel's apostasy.

Finally, there is a problem with this book that invariably follows any attempt to focus on one of the 5 points independent of the other 5. Since they are so logically tight, the points don't make much sense outside the other 5. But since the authors are conentrating on the fifth point, the authors have to assume a lot of things with out properly establishing them or answering counter arguments (i.e. calvinist predestination, limited atonement and the penal substitution theory).

As a brief side note, the anti-sacramental leanings so color their view of the Scriptures that they make incredible gaffes in scholarship. After quoting John 3:5-6 they say it is obvious that people cannot see the kingdom of God without being born by the Spirit (*slaps forehead*).

While it is well written and interesting. Ultimately the vacillating back and forth with "already/not-yet" falls on its face when they discuss election. However, it is still an interesting book and is well worth the money no matter what view you hold. Another interesting thing that will certainly cause more controversy with Protestants in the future is their view of good works. While they affirm that faith is the only thing that can make us right with God, they also say that good works are necessary for inheriting the kingdom of God. The authors maintain there is no contradiction, but don't attempt to deal with this in detail. This leaves me interested to read more of what they have to say about justification.


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