Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Doctrine of Justification

My reading has taken a definite serious turn. From fiction novels to good solid theology. So, I have turned my mind to study the doctrine on which the church hinges, Justification. To do so I decided to re-start reading a book I started to read a while back, but got too busy with other things to complete. Now I try to read a chapter or so a day, and that seems to be working well. The book is The Doctrine of Justification by James Buchanan--subtitled An Outline of its History in the Church and of its Exposition from Scripture J.I. Packer had this to say about this book, "The doctrine of justification by faith is like Atlas: it bears a world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of saving grace. The doctrines of election, of effectual calling, regeneration, and repentance, of adoption, of prayer, of the church, the ministry, and the sacraments, have all to be interpreted and understood in the light of justification by faith. When justification falls, all true knowledge of the grace of God in human life falls with it, and then as Luther said, the church itself falls. The value of Buchanan's book today is that it will help us to understand this message better, and so to preach it in the full and comprehensive way in which the modern world need to hear it. This is still the best textbook on this subject, from the standpoint of the classic covenant theology." There were two things that I found fascinating in the introduction. Remember that this book was originally published in 1867. Buchanan states, "looking at the character of our current literature, may it not be said that, to a large class of minds in the present age, nothing could well be more new than the old Theology of the Reformation?" What caught my eye here is how true that was not just then, but still is today. The doctrines of the Reformation seem to have been lost even in many Reformed denominations. Second, what caught my eye is his guiding principle, "that the only effective refutation of error is the establishment of truth. Truth is one, error is multiform; and truth, once firmly established, overthrows all the errors that either have been, or may yet be, opposed to it. He who exposes and expels an error, does well; but it will only return in another form, unless the truth has been so lodged in the heart as to shut it out for ever." This serves as a good reminder that as a pastor my task is not merely to reveal and correct error, but much more importantly to proclaim the truth in such a way that believers are filled with it and error is cast out. So far this book has been fascinating. I am looking forward to the rest of it.


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