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Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification

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In Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification renowned biblical scholar Thomas Schreiner looks at the historical and biblical roots of the doctrine of justification. He summarizes the history of the doctrine, looking at the early church and the writings of several of the Reformers. Then, he turns his attention to the Scriptures and walks readers through an examination of the key texts in the Old and New Testament. He discusses whether justification is transformative or forensic and introduces readers to some of the contemporary challenges to the Reformation teaching of sola fide, with particular attention to the new perspective on Paul.

Five hundred years after the Reformation, the doctrine of justification by faith alone still needs to be understood and proclaimed. In Faith Alone you will learn how the rallying cry of “sola fide” is rooted in the Scriptures and how to apply this sola in a fresh way in light of many contemporary challenges.

Resource Experts
  • Explains the historical roots and biblical context of one of the five solas, sola fide
  • Discusses the significance of sola fide and its modern relevancy
  • A Historical Tour of Sola Fide
    • Sola Fide in the Early Church
    • Martin Luther on Justification by Faith Alone
    • John Calvin on Justification by Faith Alone
    • Sola Fide and the Council of Trent
    • Glimpses into Further Reformed Discussions on Sola Fide: The Contribution of John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Francis Turretin
    • The Status of Sola Fide in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley
  • A Biblical and Theological Tour of Sola Fide
    • Human Sin
    • Faith Alone
    • Faith in Jesus Christ
    • The Importance of Justification in Paul
    • God’s Saving Righteousness
    • Righteousness Is Eschatological
    • Righteousness Is Forensic
    • The Righteousness of God
    • Imputation of Righteousness
    • The Role of Good Works in Justification
  • Contemporary Challenges to Sola Fide
    • Sola Fide and the Roman Catholic Church
    • Frank Beckwith’s Return to Rome
    • N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul
    • New Perspective on Paul: The Sin of Israel and the Rejection of Imputation
    • A Concluding Word

Top Highlights

“Augustine differs from the Reformers, however, in that he understands the word ‘justify’ to mean ‘make righteous’ instead of ‘declare righteous.’69 Augustine believed that justification was more than merely an event; it was also a process, and thus he believed in inherent righteousness rather than imputed righteousness.” (Page 34)

“I see three false polarities in Wright’s thought. First, he wrongly says that justification is primarily about ecclesiology instead of soteriology. Second, he often introduces a false polarity when referring to the mission of Israel by saying that Israel’s fundamental problem was its failure to bless the world whereas Paul focuses on Israel’s inherent sinfulness. Third, he insists that justification is a declaration of God’s righteousness but does not include the imputation of God’s righteousness.” (Page 244)

“One of the five rallying cries of the Reformation was the statement that we are saved by faith alone—sola fide! These words declared that salvation does not come from looking at our own works of righteousness, but from looking outside ourselves to another, to the person and work of Jesus Christ.” (Page 15)

“George says that Luther emphasized that righteousness is imputed to us instead of imparted.40 In other words, the righteousness of a believer is extrinsic rather than intrinsic; it is declared instead of being inherent.” (Page 43)

“Paul doesn’t deny that the Jews have great privileges as the chosen people (Rom 2:17–20; 3:1–2), nor does he dispute their role as teachers and instructors of Gentiles. What he complains about is their disobedience to the Torah (2:21–24). And the sins he puts under the searchlight are moral infractions of the law: stealing, adultery, and robbing temples. Paul could have easily said that he was troubled by Jewish nationalism and ethnocentricism, but instead he complains about their failure to keep the law—their disobedience. All of this suggests that works of law refer to the entire law, and that the fundamental problem is human disobedience.” (Pages 100–101)

Dr. Schreiner has done a magnificent job of expounding the key doctrine of the Protestant Reformation, sola fide, which remains as vital for us today as when Martin Luther first proclaimed it. Schreiner’s clear explanation of justification by faith alone will do much to strengthen the faith of a new generation and its witness to this timeless truth.

—Gerald Bray, research professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

The doctrine by which the church stands or falls—that’s how Luther described the importance of justification by faith alone. Without the imputed righteousness of Christ received by faith alone, we are truly without hope before a holy God. Thomas Schreiner, one of the most clearheaded and biblically faithful New Testament scholars of our generation, has produced a compelling and careful defense of the doctrine of justification that readers will find both exegetically faithful and theologically enriching. This book will help the church in this generation to stand on solid ground.

—R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

As new ideas about justification have proliferated in recent years, the need for a clear analysis of these ideas and a better understanding of the traditional Reformation view has grown. Tom Schreiner’s Faith Alone accomplishes both tasks admirably. Schreiner anchors his exposition of the key biblical themes in the history of the doctrine, and defends the Reformation view in light of the many current challenges. Comprehensive, readable, persuasive.

—Douglas J. Moo, Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College; Chair, Committee on Bible Translation (NIV)

Thomas R. Schreiner (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament and associate dean of Scripture and interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The author of numerous books, he is the preaching pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.


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