As some of you know I wrote my doctoral dissertation in defense of the traditional, Protestant doctrine of justification. It is entitled, Faith, Obedience, and Justification: Current Evangelical Departures from Sola Fide. If you are interested, you can get it from Reformed Baptist Academic Press. In the process of writing it, I realized that there was a whole spectrum of responses to the deviations from the traditional doctrine of justification embodied in the writings of Norman Shepherd, Daniel Fuller, and representatives of the New Perspective on Paul. On the one hand, there was the qualified acceptance of their views by the advocates of the Federal Vision. On the other hand, there were the reactionary formulations of writers associated with the Trinity Foundation. In between you could see various nuances generally representing Westminster East and Westminster West.
One concern that guided me in my studies was not to so react to modern deviations from justification by faith alone as to call into question the biblical doctrine of perseverance and trend back toward the Easy-believism which dominated Evangelicalism for most of the 20th century and still infects many parts of it.
I say all of this because I am concerned that an over-reaction may be setting in which actually does forget and call into question the biblical doctrine of the necessity of perseverance and actually does trend back toward viewpoints representative of Easy-believism. I am also concerned when some take positions in an attempt to defend justification by faith alone which, when examined by an unbiased mind in light of Scripture, simply cannot be defended. Taking such positions in my view does a great deal of harm to sola fide because it tends to create the impression that only by special pleading and ignoring a part of the witness of Scripture can the doctrine of justification by faith alone be defended.
The articles in this series of blogs will interact with the writings of Lee Irons. Let me make clear that I respect Lee a great deal. I have particularly appreciated his articles and statements in defense of the doctrine of eternal generation. I have chosen to interact with Lee, because I believe he tends to represent a fairly common and less extreme form of reaction against modern departures from the traditional doctrine of justification. I do not believe he desires to call into question the biblical doctrine of perseverance or in the least trend back toward Easy-believism. I write with no personal animus against him, but in the spirit of iron sharpening iron. But I also write with a concern that some of the positions he and others he represents defend cannot be defended exegetically and raise unnecessary questions about justification sola fide.
Tom Hicks on Feb 23, 2010 11:06am
Dr. Waldron, I’m looking forward to this series, and I plan to follow it closely. Thank you!
Brandon Adams on Feb 23, 2010 12:52pm
I look forward to this series Dr. Waldron.
I just wanted to add my two cents regarding Easy-believism. In my opinion, the battle with Easy-believism is not over the judgment of the last day, but over a proper understanding of faith. You said your fear is that people will over react to neolegalism. I would suggest an equal care in over reacting to Easy-believism.
The Trinity Foundation, which you mentioned, has been extremely edifying to me in sorting these issues out. In particular, Gordon Clark’s book “What is Saving Faith” is unparalleled, and at the same time widely neglected.
Tim Etherin on Feb 24, 2010 5:08pm
Looking forward to this as I very much like Lee Irons.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.