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Trust and Obey (Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminister Seminary) Paperback – 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: NextStep Resources; 1ST edition (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0911802835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0911802832
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Chris Van Allsburg on March 25, 2011
Hewitson, Ian. Trust and Obey: Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary. Minneapolis MN, NextStep Resources, 2011, Pp. 277. $25.00

Do you know how faith and works fit together? If we are saved from our sins by faith, then why all the commands to do good works? Why does Paul say we are justified by faith, but James says, "you see that a man is not justified by faith alone, but by his works (2:24)? How can we express the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and yet find any congruence with what James says?

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, the doctrine of justification by "faith alone" came under scrutiny at Westminster Theological Seminary. One of the reasons that precipitated a long, drawn-out, and painful controversy there is because the Rev. Norman Shepherd sought to do faithful exegesis of the text of Scripture in comparing the so-called contradictory pronouncements on justification between Paul and James. He did so while staying faithful to his Reformed tradition as expressed in the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms). While Shepherd came to question Luther's statement of "justification by faith alone," he wondered why exegetical theology could not express itself in terms of the simpler, and more biblical, "justification by faith." It was, after all, Martin Luther who added the gloss "alone" (glauben allein) into the text of Romans 3:28, which is not in the Greek text.

Ian Hewitson, Ph.D. University of Aberdeen, reveals in his clear, erudite dissertation, that at the crux of the debate over Shepherd's teachings was the Lutheran-Calvinist distinction in what constitutes justifying faith. For Luther, the faith that justifies is "alone.
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Ian Hewitson is professor of Biblical & Theological Studies at Northwestern College; before this, he was a minister for 14 years. He wrote in the Preface to this 2011 book, "The book that you have before you was conceived in 2003. At that time, I was hearing rumors about Norman Shepherd's alleged lack of orthodoxy, but by then I had known Professor Shepherd for ten years and he had been my minister for six of those years... I heard, and witnessed, nothing from him that caused me to be at all suspicious of either his teaching or his person... I came to the conclusion that something had to be done to restore Professor Shepherd's good name... I was obliged to come to the defense of a man I had come to believe was being unjustly slandered... it is a privilege to set before the reader an accurate account of a controversy that has been, and continues to be, destructive of the body of Christ." (Pg. 15) He adds, "having examined both the administrative and the theological evidence and having found that no charges were ever made at any time, during the controversy against Professor Shepherd, either doctrinal or moral and in view of the fact that he was repeatedly exonerated from all allegations by the seminary and by his presbytery, we can affirm with certainty that... his teaching on justification by faith, his exegesis of James 2 and its consonance with the teachings of Paul, his teaching on baptism, and his understanding of the `covenant dynamic' were judged to be in harmony with Scripture and Confession and therefore do not represent departures from historical Reformed theology. In short, his formulations were found to be orthodox." (Pg. 17)

He points out, "The long and cherished tradition that lies behind `justification by faith alone' ... would appear to make it an act of ...
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