Often treated like the younger sibling in theology, the doctrine of sanctification has spent the last few decades waiting not-so-patiently behind those doctrines viewed as more senior. With so much recent interest in ideas like election and justification, the question of holiness can often seem to be of secondary importance, and widespread misunderstanding of sanctification as moralism or undue human effort further impedes thoughtful engagement. But what if we have missed the boat on what sanctification really means for today's believer?
The essays in this volume, which come out of a recent Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference, address this dilemma through biblical, historical, dogmatic and pastoral explorations. The contributors sink their teeth into positions like the "works" mentality or "justification by faith alone" and posit stronger biblical views of grace and holiness, considering key topics such as the image of God, perfection, union with Christ, Christian ethics and suffering. Eschewing any attempt to produce a unified proposal, the essays included here instead offer resources to stimulate an informed discussion within both church and academy.
"Having chaired the Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference at which most of these papers were given in preliminary form, it is a delight to see them reworked and in print. We owe a debt of gratitude to Kelly Kapic for his willingness to edit the papers and to bring them through to this fine conclusion. The subject of sanctification is vital for the life of the church, as well as being an important topic of theological discussion, and so this volume sits at the intersection between church and academy. This is precisely what the Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference, organized by Rutherford House, seeks to achieve in bringing together scholars and pastors every second year."
"This timely collection of essays turns attention to a topic too often neglected in contemporary theological discussion—the doctrine of sanctification. These insightful, nuanced, and mutually-engaging (and at times mutually-challenging) studies by scholars within the Reformed tradition speak to the ecumenical church and remind us that to disregard this doctrine is to misunderstand the nature of justification itself. They call us back to the fact that Holy Scripture speaks powerfully not only of forgiveness but of holiness, and that the Christian life can never be rightly understood when either is overlooked."
"Kelly Kapic has drawn together some fine chapters from some of the very best of both established scholars and bright newcomers on a theme at the heart of the Christian life. This slim volume is a remarkable accomplishment."
"Reading these essays brings rich blessing. While these scholars offer the kinds of insight one would expect from each, still the insights themselves can be surprisingly rich. Amid contemporary Reformed confusion and conflict, this collection helpfully places sanctification in biblical, historical and pastoral perspective—thus making truly ecumenical and evangelical contributions."
"What does it mean to be God's 'holy' people, both individually and corporately? How might we speak of divine and human agency in sanctification, and navigate the complexities of the relationship between justification, faith and sanctification? These essays open up multiple conversations to help us with such questions and more—conversations between the authors, between historical figures and contemporary debates, and between theology, pastoral practice and ethical action. The result is a volume that both clarifies some of the issues at stake and advances the debates, and that speaks not only to scholars but also to the church."
"Few doctrines today are as unwieldy and ill-defined as sanctification. Vast terrain must be charted, and a path forward must be suggested that honors the wide variety of biblical teachings that impinge on the subject. Kelly Kapic has done us all a great service in gathering these essays that explore the terrain and map out proposals regarding evangelical holiness. On a number of key issues, ranging from sola fide or perfection to union with Christ or suffering, this book draws wisely from the tradition, engages patiently with the scriptural testimony, and tries to think clearly and compellingly for the church today. I commend it."
"This fine collection of essays serves as a welcome reminder that the Reformed tradition's theology of sanctification is anything but monolithic."
"The book accomplishes its aim of provoking thought and further discussion concerning sanctification. The variety of topics pertaining to sanctification stimulates reflection theologically, biblically, and pastorally. The contribution of theological reflections on sanctification at a corporate level makes the book valuable to both pastors and theologians. Regardless of the reader's theological persuasion, the book provides new insights into the doctrine of sanctification."
"Kapic encourages suffering Christians to focus on the images of the cross, resurrection, and feast: 'Suffering can be like a famine: a famine of comfort and peace, a famine of joy and health, a famine of community and self-worth. To this famine Christ offers the feast of himself' (p. 231). This essay should be read by everyone in the church and is alone worth the price of the book."
Prelude: An Opening Homily
1. Holiness: Restoring God?s Image: A Homily on Colossians 3:5-17
Part 1: Sanctified by Grace Through Faith in Union with Christ
2. Living by Faith—Alone? Reformed Responses to Antinomianism
3. Sanctification by Faith?
4. Covenantal Union and Communion: Union with Christ as the Covenant of Grace
5. Sanctification after Metaphysics: Karl Barth in Conversation with John Wesley?s Conception of "Christian Perfection"
Bruce L. McCormack
Part 2: Human Agency and Sanctification?s Relationship to Ethics
6. "Let the Earth Bring Forth . . .": The Spirit and Human Agency in Sanctification
7. Sanctification and Ethics
8. On Bavinck?s Theology of Sanctification-as-Ethics
Part 3: Theological and Pastoral Meditations on Sanctification
9. Gospel Holiness: Some Dogmatic Reflections
Ivor J. Davidson
10. Faith, Hope and Love: A Theological Meditation on Suffering and Sanctification
Kelly M. Kapic
11. Sonship, Identity and Transformation
12. Sanctification Through Preaching: How John Chrysostom Preached for Personal Transformation