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Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification Paperback – February 11, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald Alexander (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is emeritus professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN. He served for ten years as a missionary at the Alliance Bible Seminary, Hong Kong, China. He is the author of The Pursuit of Godliness: Sanctification in Christological Perspective.

Gerhard O. Forde was professor of theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also taught at Luther College in Iowa and St. Olaf College in Minnesota. His many publications include The Law-Gospel Debate, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Life and Death and Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel.

Sinclair B. Ferguson is senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and serves as professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Laurence W. Wood is Frank Paul Morris Professor of Systematic Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. His books include God and History and Theology as History and Hermeneutics.

Russell P. Spittler is senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has also held the positions of associate dean of the School of Theology and provost and vice president of academic affairs at Fuller. Among his many publications are Perspectives in Neo- Pentecostalism, The Corinthian Correspondence and God the Father.

E. Glenn Hinson, now retired, was professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (February 11, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830812784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830812783
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rev. J. Mann on December 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a Reformed Presbyterian pastor. Sinclair Ferguson's chapter is priceless. It's far and away the fullest and clearest summary explanation of a Christ-centered view of sanctification I've ever encountered. His interaction with other positions is instructive. It also helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses of other views.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Kanz on December 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
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.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joshua V. Schneider VINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent study, comparison, and critique of the Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Contemplative views on Sanctification. As another reviewer correctly noted, the Lutheran and Reformed views are intentionally founded on the Bible, and arrive at their conclusions from key Scriptural passages. The Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Contemplative views though making occasional references to Scripture, are formulated based on experience and are much more subjective. Though the content of the latter three essays is of less substance, I rate the book at four stars because of the valuable information it offers on the different perspectives.
Another feature of the book which makes it all the more interesting are the responses to each of the five essays. After each view is presented, the other four authors provide their compliments as well as their critiques. It also becomes evident as one reads the book, how the Lutheran and Reformed views are very Christ-centered, while the remainder are anthropocentric. None of the essays are flawless, of course. The Lutheran essay is a little too short and doesn't cover enough ground, and the Reformed essay wrongly seeks the motivation for Christian sanctification in the 3rd use of the Law. Yet both nail the essential point of how the Christian life is lived as both saint and sinner (Romans 7).
The Wesleyan author explicitly doubts this Christian truth, which is why he is able to hold to the faulty notion of "Christian perfection", which ends up watering-down the demands of the law. The Contemplative author seeks illumination and love of God in mystic inner meditation, a dangerous practice because it seeks God elsewhere than He has promised to be found--namely in His Word and Sacraments.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thomas j. zwemer on April 17, 2013
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I found the book to be very forthcoming on the various views on Sanctification. Coming out of the Methodism into the Reform tradition I found the anaylitical approach very helpful for me.
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I think the authors did a great job explaining their viewpoints, although, the Pentecostal view needed to be fleshed out a little more. I also think their responses to each other's work was done in a respectful tone which is nice to see. I would love to see another work like this done today. The church landscape has changed greatly since 1988 and I'd love to hear from the seeker-sensative crowd on how they view sanctification.
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I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about how major denominations interpret the Scriptures on the subject of sanctification. The different views are written by highly informed and knowledgable theologians of each tradition. Especially helpful are the reviews of each article by the other authors.
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