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Getting the Gospel Right

Category Book Reviews
Date January 1, 2007

Getting the Gospel Right, Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul1, is written by Cornelis P Venema, and published by the Banner of Truth Trust. For those who need to know what is happening in other parts of the religious world and, in particular, current threats to the gospel, this little book may prove very useful. It is, in fact, a condensed version of a much longer book by the same author, to be published also by the Banner of Truth.2

The author, president of a theological seminary in America, is reacting to attacks on the Scripture doctrine of justification which go under the title of “the new perspectives on Paul”. Prof Venema begins with a description of what he calls “the Reformation perspective on Paul”, emphasising that justification is by grace alone and through faith alone, in opposition to what one might call the Roman Catholic perspective.

He goes on to discuss the teaching of some of the main representatives of “the new perspective”, including the present Bishop of Durham, N T Wright. These men claim “that the Reformation view of justification was built upon the foundation of a false picture of Judaism at the time of the writing of Paul’s epistles” and that “the language of ‘justification’ in Paul’s epistles does not primarily refer to the way guilty sinners find acceptance with God but to the identification of who belongs to the covenant people of God”. This, of course, perverts some of the most basic teachings of Scripture. Prof Venema points to an even more fundamental problem in the Bishop’s views on the atonement: “One point that emerges clearly in his limited treatment of this subject is that he has little sympathy for the historic view that Christ’s death involved His suffering the penalty and curse of the law on behalf of His sinful people”, and this is a man who makes some claim to be an Evangelical. The book concludes with some critical analysis, on the basis of Scripture.

The words of John Owen, however, are relevant: “Were men acquainted with the Scriptures as they ought to be . . . did they ponder and believe on what they read, or had they any tenderness in their consciences as to that reverence, obedience and subjection of soul which God requires unto His Word, it were utterly impossible that their faith in this matter should ever in the least be shaken by a few lewd [presumably in the now-obsolete sense of unlearned] sophisms or loud clamours of men destitute of the truth and of the spirit of it” (Works, vol 2, pp 386-7). The Prince of Puritan writers was here making a strong attack on those who denied the doctrine of the Trinity. And we, in the light of Owen’s words, should feel our obligation to have a clear understanding of what the Scriptures teach on the vital doctrine of justification. If we do so, we are unlikely to be troubled in our own minds by such serious deviations from the truth today as come from the direction of “the new perspectives”.

Yet assaults on the truth keep coming, and these assaults must be resisted. This Prof Venema has successfully done. It is regrettable that he has not chosen to use the Authorised Version.

Notes

    • Getting the Gospel Right

      Getting the Gospel Right

      Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul

      by Cornelis P. Venema


      price £5.50

      Description

      Getting the Gospel Right, Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul1, is written by Cornelis P Venema, and published by the Banner of Truth Trust. For those who need to know what is happening in other parts of the religious world and, in particular, current threats to the gospel, this little book may prove […]

    • The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ

      The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ

      An Assessment of the Reformation and the New Perspective on Paul

      by Cornelis P. Venema


      price £16.00

      Description

      Getting the Gospel Right, Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul1, is written by Cornelis P Venema, and published by the Banner of Truth Trust. For those who need to know what is happening in other parts of the religious world and, in particular, current threats to the gospel, this little book may prove […]

Taken from the November issue of the Free Presbyterian Magazine November 2006 with permission

www.fpchurch.org.uk

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