- Paperback: 254 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; 1st edition (October 26, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1581347545
- ISBN-13: 978-1581347548
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus' Blood and Righteousness: Paul's Theology of Imputation 1st Edition
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"Vickers's work is sure to be one of the most significant contributions to the ongoing discussion of the nature of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. For the sake of one's own soul, and for richer biblical and theological understanding, I recommend to Christians that they read with care this excellent work."
—Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Accessible to any intelligent reader with an interest in theology, exegesis, and doctrine, but especially helpful to pastors, teachers, and seminarians."
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
"With great clarity Dr. Vickers bases his theological conclusions on careful, contextual study of the Scriptures. And he does all of this with a gentle spirit that refuses to demonize those who disagree with him. I heartily commend this volume as a needed, constructive, and helpful piece of theological exegesis."
—Robert A. Peterson, independent researcher, St. Louis, Missouri
"Integral to the Pauline understanding of salvation is the idea of imputation. Vickers clearly demonstrates how it fits within the contours of Pauline theology and masterfully exegetes the pertinent texts on which the doctrine is founded. Highly recommended!"
—Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Too often discussions on imputation produce quarrels rather than understanding, but here we have a work that furnishes an exegetical basis for the Pauline teaching."
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
About the Author
Brian J. Vickers (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament interpretation and biblical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the assistant editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He is actively involved in leading short-term mission trips and teaching overseas. He is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Institute for Biblical Research.
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In recent years various streams of New Testament scholarship have risen which has set a challenge against orthodox ideas of imputation. Among the discussions today, certainly John Piper and N.T, Wright have taken center stage on the issue and have served as catalysts to further study and a growing investigation into the biblical texts. One can walk into a Christian bookstore and find a myriad of volumes on this subject. Some volumes will serve to muddy the waters and lead to slight confusion, and as I found out, volumes like the one Vickers has written serves to provide a fresh breath of air on the subject.
Vickers begins with a survey of Historical Theology and looks at such towering figures as Martin Luther and John Calvin. He also draws upon various strains of Reformed Theology in order to provide a 30,000 foot view on the ideas surrounding imputation. He also draws on those outside of Orthodox Reformed Christianity and seeks to round out the survey by drawing its conclusion on the discussion which is finding itself in the Church today.
After tracing the historical trajectories Vickers begins where one would typically begin; Abraham. He moves on from there and dives into Romans, Corinthians, and finishes off with a synthesis of Paul’s theology. The conclusion wraps up this volume with the fact that without this imputation of righteousness there would be no hope for us or anyone for that matter. He agrees with the “giants of the faith” when they say that Christ’ blood and righteousness are our hope.
Without singling out the texts and ripping them from their contexts Vickers does an excellent job of taking difficult texts and leaving them where they should be. He doesn’t rely solely on one type of method of investigation but draws upon centuries of methodology and writings to bring us this single, readable volume. I appreciate the effort it takes to introduce the Church to topics as difficult as this. Brian Vickers has brought us a volume which clears the waters of Imputation and allows guys like me to stand firm in faith with a deeper understanding of what Christ has accomplished on the cross.
Vickers' book is divided into five main sections, and a conclusion. He begins aptly by tracing the "loose trajectories" of the discourse on imputation "through theological traditions." He begins with Luther and traces the arc of discussion to 20th century German liberal theology, the New Perspective on Paul, and those who are solidly Reformed in their soteriology but for various reasons do not hold explicitly to the doctrine of the imputation, to the believer, of Christ's righteousness in perfectly obeying the Law. In fact, one criticism against this book would be the lack of space devoted to the idea of Christ's perfect obedience counting for the believer.
Aside from that minor criticism, the book more than ably wades its way through the deep waters of rich "justification texts," namely three: Rom 4:3-8, Rom 5:12-21, and 2 Cor 5:21. He begins with Abraham and the reckoning of righteousness. His main points here are (1) that "faith is not itself the righteousness" but rather the instrument that "unites the believer to the object of faith," and that object is the only source of righteousness (p. 111), and (2) forgiveness is one aspect of Paul's doctrine of justification, not synonymous with it. This is a point that he emphasizes as he seeks to unfold the comprehensive nature of the biblical doctrine of justification. In the section on the foundation of righteousness, he concludes that "the ground for the status `righteous' had to be attained before it could be applied" (p. 157). Easily the longest chapter in the book, it goes into great detail on Rom 5:12-21, dissecting the Adam-Christ complex and confirming the word for "being made" in the Greek refers to "status, not personal actions (p. 156). This status is conferred upon a believer because of the representational nature of Christ for all those who are one with Him.
The provision and imputation of righteousness make up the final two chapters. In the former, he examines the OT background of the phrase "made to be sin" in 2 Cor 5:21. He concludes that it refers to a sacrifice for sin because of its relation to the language and concepts concerning sacrifices in the OT (pointing to the LXX translations of Lev 4:3 and 5:6 and how hamartiacan be used for both "sin" and "sin offering"), the greater context of reconciliation (again Leviticus cited as support for the concept of reconciliation in sacrificial contexts), and the context of 2 Cor 5:21 (which focuses on the vicarious nature of Christ's death--"one died for all," v. 14, and "not reckoning their sins to them," v. 19, and the perfection of His sacrifice--"who knew no sin," v. 21). He also tackles the debate over the phrase "the righteousness of God." While examining and overturning various exegetical options, Vickers deals at length with the view that this concept refers to the covenant faithfulness of God. He concludes, "It is more accurate to say that God's covenant faithfulness is an expression of this righteousness, or that it manifests his righteousness, rather than being his righteousness" (p. 182). He also states, "The forensic element of 2 Corinthians 5:21 argues forcefully against the covenant faithfulness view" (ibid). In the final chapter, the author examines, in synthetic fashion, the common threads in the three major imputation texts he has already studied. Upon concluding this examination, he takes up the discussion on the "active" and "passive" obedience of Christ. He states that all obedience contains both elements, and that Christ's obedience was passive in that He voluntarily accepted God's wrath against sin and active in that He willingly bore the just penalty for sin (p. 197). All this to say that the obedience of Christ to God on the Father, supremely demonstrated (or culminating) in His death on the cross includes both "the provision for the forgiveness of sins and a positive standing before God" on the basis of the Lord's perfect obedience, not just in death, but in life as well.
Vickers nicely ends his book tackling several other key objections to the traditional Protestant doctrine of justification. He tackles the arguments that this doctrine amounts to nothing more than a legal fiction, that it is a systematic not a biblical idea, that Christ's positive obedience is nowhere specifically stated as being imputed to the believer, and that imputation leads to antinomianism. In a short space, he ably refutes these objections and defends the traditional understanding of justification. His refutations themselves are noteworthy demonstrations of blending rigorous exegesis with theological synthesis and harmonization of various texts and doctrines.
Overall, Vickers' book has taken the exposition of the doctrine of justification one step forward in our current times where it is being undermined by the New Perspective on Paul. The frightening reality that its eclipse is being ushered in and greeted by conservative evangelical theologians should not draw us out of the battle for truth, but determinedly back into it; armed with the Bible and with volumes such as this one, we are equipped with exegetical and theological insights that appeal not to theology and confessions and creeds but to the Word of God itself in the original languages. It is an academic piece, one that requires patient, methodical reading/engagement. The payoff of being enriched once again by the great justification truths emanating from some crucial portions of Scripture more than validates one's time with the book. - Jason Park, Christian Book [...]
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