Shepherd's New Book

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greenbaggins

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Norman Shepherd has published a new book entitled Way of Righteousness: Justification Beginning With James.

I have written two blog posts that will hopefully dismantle Shepherd's theses in the minds of readers: here and here.
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
Norman Shepherd has published a new book entitled Way of Righteousness: Justification Beginning With James.

I have written two blog posts that will hopefully dismantle Shepherd's theses in the minds of readers: here and here.
Lulu.com? Why is anyone taking him seriously when he is publishing a tome of 98 pages with a vanity press?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Norman Shepherd has published a new book entitled Way of Righteousness: Justification Beginning With James.

I have written two blog posts that will hopefully dismantle Shepherd's theses in the minds of readers: here and here.
Lulu.com? Why is anyone taking him seriously when he is publishing a tome of 98 pages with a vanity press?
Well, it is probably only of interest to those who want a full view of Shepherd's theology. It is the most complete and up-to-date expression of his theology of justification. He probably couldn't get anyone to publish his book. Don't forget, though, that the Matthew Poole translation project is also being published on Lulu. That is something to take very seriously indeed. I perceive the scholarship to be impeccable, and the translation magnificent. I take everything Shepherd says dead seriously, especially when it gets endorsements from Randy Booth, A.B. Caneday, John Frame, Don Garlington, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Rich Lusk, Steve Schlissel, Steve Wilkins, and John Armstrong. While I disagree with every one of their endorsements, it is still something to take seriously.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
You said this:

This is what Shepherd says: “What is credited or imputed to Abraham? The answer is his faith. The faith he had was reckoned to his account as righteousness. Faith and the obedience flowing from faith are of a piece with one another and together they constitute the righteousness of Abraham” (emphasis original). Notice here that it is not Christ’s righteousness that is here imputed, according to Shepherd, but rather the believer’s own faith plus the obedience that comes from faith. This misunderstands the nature of faith.

.......

One of the main problems here is that all too often “living” has been equated with “obedient.” Those who disagree with me will undoubtedly point to James again and say “well, living is equated with obedient there.” No one is saying that we are justified (even in a Pauline sense!) by a dead faith. But the living aspect of faith with regard to justification is not obedience but the fact that it truly grasps hold of Christ. The living aspect of faith with regard to sanctification is that it will really result in good works. The second aspect of the aliveness of faith is the necessary result of the first aspect of the aliveness of faith. They are inseparable, yet distinct. The first aspect of the aliveness of faith is the sole province of the realm of justification. The second aspect is solely within sanctification. These things must be kept distinct, or all sorts of problems will result.


Now I have no problem with what you said, I entirely agree.

However, I just want to point out the following from the book review:


Description:
Norman Shepherd’s views on covenant theology, justification, and Gospel and Law have sparked vitriolic controversy in Reformation Christianity. His definition of saving faith — a submissive, penitent, obedient trust, which has nothing whatever to do with man’s merit, virtue or performance to curry God’s reward — has been met not only with disagreement and opposition but also with recrimination and anathema. Faith alone justifies, teaches Shepherd, but that faith is active in hanging onto the promises of God in Jesus Christ and in submitting to His will.


Now the book review offers a significantly different perspective, which is that there is NOTHING of man's merit or performance involved in saving faith. And your one quote implies that the works of obedience flowing from faith are part of justification, which yeah, is federal vision. So who is right, the reviewer, or you? Is that one quote typical of the book or is it out of context and the reviewer is correct that there is NO HUMAN MERIT at all- none- to our justification?

I thank you for the post and links and like I said I have zero problem with what you say. But is that what Shepherd says indeed? The only reason for my scepticism is the outright lies and smears and distortions back in the late 70s early 80s ( and I am NOT accusing you of such behaviour). There were letters written and statements made that were false and slanderous back then, and like I said the entire WTS faculty and board voted at the time that NS was OK.

Your comment on the other thread that Gaffin now will not endorse NS is the single most significant thing I have heard in 20 years, and enough for me to accept that NS is no longer writing views that are confessional. I would never argue with Gaffin. But I am quoting the book review to say that it appears that the reviewers are presenting the true gospel- that justification includes NO MERIT OR PERFORMANCE of ours- and therefore this ought to be one very intriguing and extremely nit picky discussion on the blogs in the days ahead. Have fun :)

I alos want to mention that what I bolded above ( quoted from you) is entirely correct, but back in the big WTS battle days 30 some years ago, the detractors did NOT come off the way you just put it. They came off antinomian, with no place for works of obedience at all in the discussion, not even as evidence that saving faith existed. You could not even talk about living faith and James without them charging heresy. It was bad, really bad. You have no idea how much damage they did. If you want to cry heresy, at least get the truth right.

Thank you again for the links.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
You said this:

This is what Shepherd says: “What is credited or imputed to Abraham? The answer is his faith. The faith he had was reckoned to his account as righteousness. Faith and the obedience flowing from faith are of a piece with one another and together they constitute the righteousness of Abraham” (emphasis original). Notice here that it is not Christ’s righteousness that is here imputed, according to Shepherd, but rather the believer’s own faith plus the obedience that comes from faith. This misunderstands the nature of faith.

.......

One of the main problems here is that all too often “living” has been equated with “obedient.” Those who disagree with me will undoubtedly point to James again and say “well, living is equated with obedient there.” No one is saying that we are justified (even in a Pauline sense!) by a dead faith. But the living aspect of faith with regard to justification is not obedience but the fact that it truly grasps hold of Christ. The living aspect of faith with regard to sanctification is that it will really result in good works. The second aspect of the aliveness of faith is the necessary result of the first aspect of the aliveness of faith. They are inseparable, yet distinct. The first aspect of the aliveness of faith is the sole province of the realm of justification. The second aspect is solely within sanctification. These things must be kept distinct, or all sorts of problems will result.


Now I have no problem with what you said, I entirely agree.

However, I just want to point out the following from the book review:


Description:
Norman Shepherd’s views on covenant theology, justification, and Gospel and Law have sparked vitriolic controversy in Reformation Christianity. His definition of saving faith — a submissive, penitent, obedient trust, which has nothing whatever to do with man’s merit, virtue or performance to curry God’s reward — has been met not only with disagreement and opposition but also with recrimination and anathema. Faith alone justifies, teaches Shepherd, but that faith is active in hanging onto the promises of God in Jesus Christ and in submitting to His will.


Now the book review offers a significantly different perspective, which is that there is NOTHING of man's merit or performance involved in saving faith. And your one quote implies that the works of obedience flowing from faith are part of justification, which yeah, is federal vision. So who is right, the reviewer, or you? Is that one quote typical of the book or is it out of context and the reviewer is correct that there is NO HUMAN MERIT at all- none- to our justification?

I thank you for the post and links and like I said I have zero problem with what you say. But is that what Shepherd says indeed? The only reason for my scepticism is the outright lies and smears and distortions back in the late 70s early 80s ( and I am NOt accusing you of such behaviour). There were letters written and statements made that were false and slanderous back then, and like I said the entire WTS faculty and board voted at the time that NS was OK.

Your comment on the other thread that Gaffin now will not endorse NS is the single most significant thing I have heard in 20 years, and enough for me to accept that NS is no longer writing views that are confessional. I would never argue with Gaffin. But I am quoting the book review to say that it appears that the reviewers are prsenting the true gospel- that justification incluses NO MERIT OR PERFORMANCE of ours- and therefore this ought to be one very intriguing and extremely nit picky discussion on the blogs in the days ahead. Have fun :)

I alos want to mention that what I bolded above ( quoted from you) is entirely correct, but back in the big WTS battle days 30 some years ago, the detractors did NOT come off the way you just put it. They came off antinomian, with no place for works of obedience at all in the discussion, not even as evidence that saving faith existed. You could not even talk about living faith and James without them charging heresy. It was bad, really bad. You have no idea how much damage they did. If you want to cry heresy, at least get the truth right.

Thank you again for the links.
Lynnie, in my opinion, Shepherd's theology is not internally consistent. He has many statements that reject human merit in justification. His supporters are quick to point out this feature in his presentation. However, he has just as many statements indicating that obedience is part of the structure of justification. Forget about FV, that's Roman Catholic teaching. And some FV guys would not phrase it the way Shepherd does (one can think of Wilson, for instance). But no orthodox Reformed theologian of any age, and no confession has ever said (in fact, they all emphatically deny this position) that our obedience is related to justification in the way that Shepherd has related them.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the update on Norman Shepherd. Despite the fact that no one wants to publish him, and that he can't seem to write anything longer than 120 pages, he has been quite influential. I am quite disgusted with Frame that he would endorse him.
 

Robbie Schmidtberger

Puritan Board Freshman
I am quite disgusted with Frame that he would endorse him.
Watch Frame's words he supports the book in as much that it contributes and explains the controversy surrounding Shepherd further. Not the fact that it is truth or biblical. In that scheme of things John acknowledges the piety of Shepherd.

Thats all Frame does. Most academics do this. Gaffin did this a few years ago when P and R published Shepherd's last book.
 
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