John W. Robbins
Trade paperback, 185 pages, 2003
This book contains a 70-page essay detailing the roots of the justification controversy in Reformed churches in Neo-orthodoxy, Romanism, the New Perspective on Paul,
Reconstructionism, Biblical Theology, Richard Gaffin, Herman Bavinck, and Cornelius Van Til; and the fruits of the controversy in the Kinnaird case in the OPC and the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church
in the PCA. In addition, Robert Reymond contributes a scholarly essay on the New Perspective on Paul. The volume also provides hard to obtain source documents from the Shepherd controversy.
Contents: The Roots and Fruits of the Shepherd Controversy, John W. Robbins; The Sanders/ Dunn "Fork in the Road" in the Current Controversy over the Pauline Doctrine of Justification by Faith; by Robert L. Reymond;
Some Reasons for Dissenting from the Majority Report; by Philip E. Hughes; Letter of Concern; by 45 Theologians; Reason and Specifications Supporting the Action of the Board of Trustees in Removing Professor
Shepherd, Westminster Theological Seminary Executive Committee; A Resolution to the Eleventh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, O. Palmer Robertson; Index; Scripture Index
Reviewed by Louis De Boer, Editor, American Presbyterian Press:
As the title indicates, this book is a companion volume to O. Palmer Robertson’s
book, "The Current Justification Controversy." It serves that function
for two reasons. First of all, the second half of the book provides many of
the key documents involved in the Shepherd case. This is probably, although
quite interesting, the least profitable part of the book. The real value of
this volume is that it updates the controversy to the present, exposing the
current set of theological termites, who, having followed in Shepherd’s
wake, are continuing to subvert the doctrine of justification by faith alone
in Reformed circles.
These include apologists for neo-orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism (which historically
has held, as confirmed by the Council of Trent, to justification by faith plus
works. These apologists actually have the nerve to assert that the Reformers
got this wrong!); the New Perspective on Paul (which insists that Paul was not
contending for justification by faith alone against the legalistic works religion
of first-century Judaism and asserts that we have all misunderstood Paul); Christian
Reconstructionism (which with its emphasis on the law has consistently supported
Shepherd and his successors); and the misnamed "Biblical Theology"
of Daniel Fuller and John Piper (which denies the covenant of works and its
fulfillment for the elect by Jesus Christ and insists that believers have to
fill up that measure with their own good works).
Another value of this work is that Robbins does not hesitate to name the names
that are spearheading this movement. The list of Neolegalists that he mentions
includes Peter Leithart, Steven Schlissel, Steven Wilkins, John Kinnaird, Gary
North, Douglas Wilson, and many others. To understand the current state of this
controversy, where the battle lines are drawn, who is on which side, and who
is refusing to take sides, this book is invaluable.