03 December 2013

Book Review--Christian Spirituality: 5 Views of Sanctification

A friend of mine, Eric Johnson, recommended the book Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, which was edited by Donald Alexander (1988). Representatives from Lutheran (Gerhard Forde), Reformed (Sinclair Ferguson), Wesleyan (Laurence W Wood), Pentecostal (Russell P. Splitter), and Contemplative (E. Glenn Hinson) traditions were represented. Each author provided an explanation of how their tradition, from their viewpoint, understands the process of sanctification. Each of the other authors then offered a response to the primary essays. 

Unsurprisingly, I found myself resonating with both the Lutheran and Reformed viewpoints.  I had already heard excellent things about Forde's chapter on the Lutheran view of sanctification. As I anticipated, his was a grace saturated chapter. He views sanctification as an issue of getting used to our justification and so, in the words of Luther, "to progress is to begin again" or as Jerry Bridges might say, "we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.  Ferguson was clearly grounded in the Calvinist, reformed tradition. Strong emphases were placed upon the sacraments, the Word, and union with Christ.

The Wesleyan and Pentecostal traditions made much less sense to me, at least in terms of how I understand scripture. Both talk about a strong move toward holiness, which is a good thing, but they seem to be very man centered in their understanding. Further, each speaks about the notion of second blessing or a second filling of the Spirit, for which I see no scriptural support.  To me, these viewpoints leave people feeling hopeless. 

I need to spend more time contemplating the contemplative tradition. One of the things I have appreciated about the contemplative tradition is that there is a focus on the affective or "carditive" aspects of faith rather than just the cognitive aspects.  We could all grow by understanding the emotional side of the faith better.

On the whole, this is a good book to help people think through what does sanctification mean.  Several of the essays are compelling and allow the reader to think about what does sanctification actually mean, hopefully to make a biblically informed decision.

1 comment:

John said...

I think it is very important to look for the connection between the author’s sayings and your inner soul to reach a centre point of faith.

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