Seeking to move beyond current heated debates on justification, this accessible introduction offers a fresh, alternative approach to a central theological topic. R. Michael Allen locates justification within the wider context of the gospel, allowing for more thoughtful engagement with the Bible, historical theology, and the life of the church. Allen considers some of the liveliest recent debates as well as some overlooked connections within the wider orbit of Christian theology. He provides a historically informed, ecumenically minded defense of orthodox theology, analyzing what must be maintained and what should be reconfigured from the vantage point of systematic theology. The book exemplifies the practice of theological interpretation of Scripture and demonstrates justification’s relevance in ongoing issues of faith and practice. Essential for students, scholars, pastors, and laypeople, this informative volume brings fresh perspectives on theological matters.
“The new consensus is simple: the classic articulation of justification by faith alone—prized by the Reformation theologians, espoused by their church confessions, and expounded by their dogmatics—will not cut it today. What might be left in its place is up for grabs, with a number of suggestions, but this deconstructive consensus seems to hold.” (Page xi)
“We must always push through various terms to the specific theological claims they render, realizing that varying jargon can express the same judgment.” (Page 159)
“Discerning the eternal roots of the gospel is essential to maintaining the genuine gratuity and the unimpeachable reliability of that same news. And this is crucial for understanding the place of justification in Christian theology. Justification describes a crucial event in the divine economy. Yet it remains an event in the history of God’s external works, which range from creation to consummation.” (Page 6)
“To translate a syntactical point into dogmatic terms, vindication from sin’s condemnation leads to freedom from the enslaving power of sin. Justification frees one for love and service.” (Page 143)
“We need not manipulate the doctrine of justification so that sanctification happens by fear of hell. Rather, we must confess that the God who cancels the penalty of sin upon us also breaks the power of sin in us. Indeed, canceling sin’s penalty—and our conscious appropriation of that finished work—frees us for self-sacrificial love and service.” (Page 145)
R. Michael Allen teaches systematic (or dogmatic) theology and theological ethics as a way to train students to delight in the study of God’s mighty deeds (Psalm 111:2). He hopes that integrated study of Bible and theology will help students prepare for faithful ministry in the local church by considering our worship and witness in light of God’s Word. He is especially interested in how Christian doctrine relates to other theological disciplines: biblical theology, historical theology, and moral theology. He grew up in both the South and in South Florida as the son of a Presbyterian pastor. He is presently a candidate for ordination as a teaching elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
In addition to his work in the seminary, he enjoys serving in local churches: teaching classes for children and adults, preaching, and working in the nursery. Prior to joining the faculty at Knox, he taught undergraduate and graduate students at Wheaton College for two years. He has also been active in the American Academy of Religion, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Society of Biblical Literature.