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How can we grow closer to God? Is there a secret to spriritual life? Do we need a second blessing? Is sanctification God's work or ours? Is it instantaneous or is it a process? The nature of Christian spirituality has been widely debated throughout the history of the church. The doctrine of sanctification was one of the main fissures separating Luther from the Catholic Chu How can we grow closer to God? Is there a secret to spriritual life? Do we need a second blessing? Is sanctification God's work or ours? Is it instantaneous or is it a process? The nature of Christian spirituality has been widely debated throughout the history of the church. The doctrine of sanctification was one of the main fissures separating Luther from the Catholic Church. Even today different groups of Protestants disagree on how we draw closer to God. What distinguishes the different poisitions and what exactly is at stake in these recurring debates? To answer these questions Donald L. Alexander, professor of biblical theology at Bethel College, has brought together five scholars that represent each of the main historical Protestant traditions: Gerhard O. Forde on the Lutheran vew Sinclair B. Ferguson on the Reformed view Laurence W. Wood on the Wesleyan view Russell P. Spittler on the Pentecostal view E. Glenn Hinson on the Contemplative view With an introduction by Alexander and responses to each of the main essays by the other contributors, this book provides a helpful and stimulating introduction to an important doctrine of the church.


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How can we grow closer to God? Is there a secret to spriritual life? Do we need a second blessing? Is sanctification God's work or ours? Is it instantaneous or is it a process? The nature of Christian spirituality has been widely debated throughout the history of the church. The doctrine of sanctification was one of the main fissures separating Luther from the Catholic Chu How can we grow closer to God? Is there a secret to spriritual life? Do we need a second blessing? Is sanctification God's work or ours? Is it instantaneous or is it a process? The nature of Christian spirituality has been widely debated throughout the history of the church. The doctrine of sanctification was one of the main fissures separating Luther from the Catholic Church. Even today different groups of Protestants disagree on how we draw closer to God. What distinguishes the different poisitions and what exactly is at stake in these recurring debates? To answer these questions Donald L. Alexander, professor of biblical theology at Bethel College, has brought together five scholars that represent each of the main historical Protestant traditions: Gerhard O. Forde on the Lutheran vew Sinclair B. Ferguson on the Reformed view Laurence W. Wood on the Wesleyan view Russell P. Spittler on the Pentecostal view E. Glenn Hinson on the Contemplative view With an introduction by Alexander and responses to each of the main essays by the other contributors, this book provides a helpful and stimulating introduction to an important doctrine of the church.

30 review for Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Robinson

    I read this book at the advice of a new friend, John Dink, who told me I would love reading Gerhard Forde's stuff. In this book Forde represents the Lutherans. His writing is ridiculously insightful. I also learned a lot about how Lutherans, Reformed Believers, Wesleyans, Pentacostals, and Contemplatives view sanctification. Or basically how different branches of Christianity think that we become closer to Christ. My main take away is that we (myself being a huge part of "we") all love to add to I read this book at the advice of a new friend, John Dink, who told me I would love reading Gerhard Forde's stuff. In this book Forde represents the Lutherans. His writing is ridiculously insightful. I also learned a lot about how Lutherans, Reformed Believers, Wesleyans, Pentacostals, and Contemplatives view sanctification. Or basically how different branches of Christianity think that we become closer to Christ. My main take away is that we (myself being a huge part of "we") all love to add to what Jesus has done for us on the cross to earn God's favor. Every different strain tries to add something - whether it is speaking in tongues, knowing our inner selves better, knowing our theology better, or becoming perfect. There are millions of ways we try to add to the cross and be in control of our sanctification. This has been a fruitless and exhausting process for me in the past. The bottom line (in my estimation and experience) is that there is ONLY one way to grow closer to Christ: depend 100% on him. When I stop worrying about how good I'm doing and focus on His great love for me - I begin to bear fruit (collateral righteousness.) This is super long - but these were my favorite points. The book was heavy theologically - but if I read slow enough I could take most of it in. 1. Gerhard Forde - The Lutheran View - stresses faith alone - p13 - Sanctification is thus simply the art of getting used to justification. It is not something added to justification. - p16 - We may grudgingly admit we cannot justify ourselves, but then we attempt to make up for that by getting serious about our sanctification. - p20 - When we come up against the danger and radicality of the unconditional promise, the solution is not to fall back on conditionality but simply to be drawn into the death and resurrection of Jesus. - p27 - There is a kind of growth and progress, it is to be hoped, but it is growth in grace, a growth in coming to be captivated more and more, if we can so speak, by the totality, the unconditionality of the grace of God. It is the matter of getting used to the fact that if we are to be saved it will have to be by grace alone. -p29 - Being freed from sin by the unconditional promise means the totality of it begins to overwhelm and destroy our fundamental scepticism and incredulity, our unbelief. Lord, “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” becomes our prayer. We begin to trust God rather than ourselves. Responses: - p34 - We are justified by faith alone, but that faith is never alone in the one justified. This is the thrust of James 2:14-26 (faith without works is dead) which Luther found so difficult to grasp. (Reformed) - p 35 - There is a sine qua non to forgiveness and to justification. They cannot be received apart from faith. This is a biblical condition that does not compromise grace, but arises from it. (Reformed) - p 37 - *** Dr. Forde is worried about our tendency to seek salvation by our good works. This is certainly a valid concern, but perhaps in stressing the totality of grace and a kind of fideism that divorces faith from good works, Dr. Forde is engaging in an overreaction. (Wesleyan) 2. Sinclair B. Ferguson - The Reformed View - stresses faith and the believer’s responsible participation - p48 - In Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? the “then” is pregnant with significance. It means “in light of the biblical teaching we know to be true.” - p51 - According to Calvin the dynamic for sanctification, indeed the whole life of the Christian, is to be found in union with Christ. - p57 - Paul says: the determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ’s past. - p58 - The foundation of sanctification in Reformed theology is rooted, not in humanity and our achievement of holiness or sanctification, but in what God has done in Christ, and for us in union with him. - p60 - Sanctification is therefore the consistent practical outworking of what it means to be a new creation in Christ. If you have died with Christ to sin and been raised into new life, quit sinning and live in a new way. - p64 - Reformed theology has sought to maintain a biblical balance, recognizing the continual presence of sin in the believer, and Scripture’s frequent exhortations to deal with it severely. Wrong views of sanctification can frequently be traced to misunderstanding the nature of sin in the Christian. Responses: - p78 - To avoid the charge of “cheap grace” we talk very seriously and grandly about sanctification. The result, however, is only that a good deal of cheap talk replaces the cheap grace. (Lutheran) - p78 - We can end up preaching a description of the sanctified life but doing little or nothing to bring it about. Preaching a description is deadly and usually counterproductive. It is like yelling so loudly at our children to go to sleep that you only keep them awake. You have to learn to sing lullabies. (Lutheran) p 82 - the reformed description of sanctification is accurate and compelling. The implementation, however, is less convincing. (Lutheran) 3. Laurence W. Wood - The Wesleyan View - stresses the unique role of the Holy Spirit - p96 - Holiness is a process of becoming in reality what already is ours in Christ through a new birth. Holiness is the dialectic moment in which Christ’s pure love becomes an inner reality for the believer. This is a process that is happening through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. - p96 - Wesley maintained the possibility that perfect love is realizable in this life. - p98 - Christian perfection for Wesley then “never means a claim of flawlessness.” It is precisely “the sanctifying and purgative action of the Holy Spirit that enables the believer to be relieved and cleansed of these disordered contents of the unconscious mind.” - p102 - There are several stages in Christian life as in natural life. Some people are like mere babes others like young adults. The highest stage is likened to parenthood. Responses: - p120 - Understanding sanctification as a process of becoming holy makes holiness into a moral quality. Since it is to be attained by a process, I look to myself to see “how am I doing”, how “holy” am I becoming? Grace cannot be put in such a process without being eclipsed by the scheme. (Lutheran) - p125 - Wesley’s view of perfection seems to be a less than biblical view of sin. Every Reformed theologian would want to say to those who claim to experience freedom from conscious sin: You have not considered how great the weight of sin is. (Reformed) 4. Russell P. Spittler - The Pentacostal View - stresses the unique role of the Holy Spirit - p 134 - Pentacostals are distinguished by their emphasis on the Holy Spirit and their beliefs in the contemporary relevance of the gifts of the Spirit. What decisively distinguished the Pentacostals is their acceptance of speaking in tongues as a legitimate, and even necessary, variety of Christian experience. - p153 - the dominant breed of Pentacostalism, which has spilled over to all other sectors of the church, offers a simple enrichment to personal faith - the capacity to pray in the Spirit and to pray with the mind also. Responses: p 156 - When people are constantly confronted with talk about how they must become holy, how they must have the Spirit to become so, how they must have their sanctification now that they have been justified - it is no wonder that peculiar things begin to happen! The law never really ends. (Lutheran) 5. E. Glenn Hinson - The Contemplative View - stresses faith and the believer’s responsible participation - p172 - The contemplative view has to do with loving attentiveness to God. It is based on the premise that God is immanent in the created order, particularly in the human order. - p174 - Our task is to open ourselves to God’s gracious energies. - p177 - What can we do to attain purity of heart? Surrender, abandon ourselves, submit, yield, humble ourselves, give ourselves over to God. p187 - Contemplation purifies our intention. It gathers up inner resources which can enable us to face the difficult tasks. It transforms our vision of the world. It orders our priorities. Responses: p192 - The language of grace must be a language that comes totally from without. It does not call on the old self, not even on the inner life of the old self, to somehow transverse a new way. It announces him who is the Way. It is thus a use of language which does not call on the old self to “surrender”; rather it is a use of language which through its very givenness slays the old by the absolute unconditionality of the gift itself. (Lutheran)

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Excellent summary—a real classic of a 5-views type (1989). Included views of sanctification from a Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Contemplative. The Lutheran character—Gerhard Forde—gave a classic Lutheran understanding of sanctification: getting used to your justification. Compelling at parts, but to do justice to the New Testament and reality in that "making every effort" for holiness is more than simply thinking, considering, and pondering your justification. Almost a let-go-a Excellent summary—a real classic of a 5-views type (1989). Included views of sanctification from a Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Contemplative. The Lutheran character—Gerhard Forde—gave a classic Lutheran understanding of sanctification: getting used to your justification. Compelling at parts, but to do justice to the New Testament and reality in that "making every effort" for holiness is more than simply thinking, considering, and pondering your justification. Almost a let-go-and-let-God feel. The Penticostal and Wesleyan were similar. Both valued experience and a second blessing of sorts. Both classical; both historical from their traditions. The Contemplative view (E. Glenn Hinson) was the real disappointing one. I was hoping for a good, robust, view of spirituality that was grounded in the day-and-night mediation on Scripture. A real taste-and-see piece. But he failed to base anything on a foundation of God, his word, or his gospel. Very disappointing. The real gem in the book was Sinclair Ferguson's (Reformed) chapter. He based our spirituality and sanctification upon our union with Christ. Very rich stuff. Worth going over again and again. Loved it. Also, a very good "contemplative" and "meditative" understanding of our spirituality. Over all, a great 5-views book. One of the better ones I've read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert Murphy

    Ferguson's take on Reformed Spirituality is worth the price of the book. The other guys are just clowning, in comparison. Still, I'm sure for most people this would be extremely eye-opening in terms of other denominations' practices. I had heard of most before, but it was still good to read their best and brightest on display versus our guy. Read the whole thing once, but return only to the Ferguson article.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Barnett

    Obviously a book subtitled "Five views of..." anything is going to include a lot that one won't agree with, but I found these essays and their responses incredibly helpful in diagnosing the malaise of spiritualities found throughout denominations today. The essay by O'Forde, together with his and Ferguson's replies to the other views on sanctification were alone justification (no pun intended) for buying this book. They expertly reveal how a "sanctification-by-works" mentality is deeply rooted i Obviously a book subtitled "Five views of..." anything is going to include a lot that one won't agree with, but I found these essays and their responses incredibly helpful in diagnosing the malaise of spiritualities found throughout denominations today. The essay by O'Forde, together with his and Ferguson's replies to the other views on sanctification were alone justification (no pun intended) for buying this book. They expertly reveal how a "sanctification-by-works" mentality is deeply rooted in even - and perhaps most of all - the more charismatic and contemplative spiritualities.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    A friend of mine, Eric Johnson, recommended the book Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, which was edited by Donald Alexander (1988). Representatives from Lutheran (Gerhard Forde), Reformed (Sinclair Ferguson), Wesleyan (Laurence W Wood), Pentecostal (Russell P. Splitter), and Contemplative (E. Glenn Hinson) traditions were represented. Each author provided an explanation of how their tradition, from their viewpoint, understands the process of sanctification. Each of the other A friend of mine, Eric Johnson, recommended the book Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, which was edited by Donald Alexander (1988). Representatives from Lutheran (Gerhard Forde), Reformed (Sinclair Ferguson), Wesleyan (Laurence W Wood), Pentecostal (Russell P. Splitter), and Contemplative (E. Glenn Hinson) traditions were represented. Each author provided an explanation of how their tradition, from their viewpoint, understands the process of sanctification. Each of the other authors then offered a response to the primary essays. Unsurprisingly, I found myself resonating with both the Lutheran and Reformed viewpoints. I had already heard excellent things about Forde's chapter on the Lutheran view of sanctification. As I anticipated, his was a grace saturated chapter. He views sanctification as an issue of getting used to our justification and so, in the words of Luther, "to progress is to begin again" or as Jerry Bridges might say, "we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Ferguson was clearly grounded in the Calvinist, reformed tradition. Strong emphases were placed upon the sacraments, the Word, and union with Christ. The Wesleyan and Pentecostal traditions made much less sense to me, at least in terms of how I understand scripture. Both talk about a strong move toward holiness, which is a good thing, but they seem to be very man centered in their understanding. Further, each speaks about the notion of second blessing or a second filling of the Spirit, for which I see no scriptural support. To me, these viewpoints leave people feeling hopeless. I need to spend more time contemplating the contemplative tradition. One of the things I have appreciated about the contemplative tradition is that there is a focus on the affective or "carditive" aspects of faith rather than just the cognitive aspects. We could all grow by understanding the emotional side of the faith better. On the whole, this is a good book to help people think through what does sanctification mean. Several of the essays are compelling and allow the reader to think about what does sanctification actually mean, hopefully to make a biblically informed decision.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hawkins

    I’ve been wanting to read this from some time. The five views are the Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Contemplative. Here’s my take. If you read this book, you’ll see what I believe to be one of the great ironies in theology. Namely, Reformed theology is often critiqued with being mainly just a system, but when you really compare Reformed theology to other options (like in this book), you see that *by far* Reformed theology is the one most rigorously biblical and Christ-centered. I’ve been wanting to read this from some time. The five views are the Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Contemplative. Here’s my take. If you read this book, you’ll see what I believe to be one of the great ironies in theology. Namely, Reformed theology is often critiqued with being mainly just a system, but when you really compare Reformed theology to other options (like in this book), you see that *by far* Reformed theology is the one most rigorously biblical and Christ-centered. It’s the one that exegetes texts deeply and says what they say, and tries not to go any further. Reading this book made me see that even more. In fact, after reading these essays and responses, I think it can be whittled down to this: Do you really believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God in every word? And do you believe that Christ is central? If so, then you will be Reformed. 
And the other essays basically admit this. The Wesleyan perspective acknowledges Scripture, but they admittedly put experience and tradition on a high standing too. Hence, even their huge idea of being made perfect in love isn’t mainly grounded in any exegesis, it’s just an experienced idea, backed with loose Scriptures. The Pentecostal side is even more experience based. Even the author of this essay says so. The Lutheran side guy even admitted that he doesn’t hold to a literal, inerrant view of Scripture. Hence, his side emphasized justification by faith, and then the rest essentially is a system based off that. Then the Contemplative idea, which seemed to me to share most with Reformed theology, focused more on inner experience and a rich, age-old tradition. But if you are 1) mainly concerned with what the Bible says, and 2) think that Christ is central, then you will see the huge differences here. Ferguson quotes the Scriptures probably more than the other four combined. And Ferguson alone puts Christ in the center of spirituality (in our union with him being our salvation and sanctification). The others focus simply do not. So all being said, this made me even more Reformed. And if anyone is reading this who is not, I encourage you to honestly read this. See how people reason about their spirituality. See where they get their ideas. It’s amazing how much experience and tradition reign in the others. But for the Reformed, we have a God who speaks to us perfectly in his word. So we believe what he says, even if it’s hard for us to understand sometimes. By doing this, yes, we can arrive at some sort of system (by putting exegetical pieces together), but often, we just agree that the Bible says A (like God’s total control, even over my choices) and the Bible says B (like human responsibility). How they work together, we don’t know fully; but God has said both. In sum, Ferguson’s essay wasn’t perfect, but it was by far the most rigorously biblical and Christ-centered. And as so, it was by far the best.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Goetz

    One of the earliest "X Views on ___________" books, with proponents of the Lutheran view (Forde), the Reformed view (Ferguson), the Wesleyan view (Wood), the Pentecostal view (Spittler), and the Contemplative view (Hinson). The five authors don't pull many punches, stating clearly and helpfully where they disagree with one another. And the essays differed from one another in striking ways: whereas Forde and Ferguson construe sanctification in explicitly dogmatic terms (meaning they make their ca One of the earliest "X Views on ___________" books, with proponents of the Lutheran view (Forde), the Reformed view (Ferguson), the Wesleyan view (Wood), the Pentecostal view (Spittler), and the Contemplative view (Hinson). The five authors don't pull many punches, stating clearly and helpfully where they disagree with one another. And the essays differed from one another in striking ways: whereas Forde and Ferguson construe sanctification in explicitly dogmatic terms (meaning they make their case theologically, Forde with an additional polemical edge), Spittler mostly just gives a description of the general outlines of lived Pentecostal spirituality. Wood and Hinson fall somewhere in between. None of the essays were surprising in their content, but all were good and definitely worth reading if you're interested in this topic. Also, it's interesting to read these multiple-views books if only because you are exposed to the voices of other theological traditions. Being a son of the magisterial Reformation myself, I agree most with Forde and Ferguson. As an aside, it's fascinating that Hinson--the representative of the Contemplative view--taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He would never be allowed to teach there these days.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Chavedo

    This book is supposed to be five views on sanctification. It is set up so that 5 authors can each present their own denominational or theological view and respond to each other view given. However, half of the contributors seemed to merely skirt around the issue of sanctification, being purposefully long-winded about other issues such as presenting an entire but limited overview of their denominations existence or discussing other soapbox issues that were merely tangentially related to sanctific This book is supposed to be five views on sanctification. It is set up so that 5 authors can each present their own denominational or theological view and respond to each other view given. However, half of the contributors seemed to merely skirt around the issue of sanctification, being purposefully long-winded about other issues such as presenting an entire but limited overview of their denominations existence or discussing other soapbox issues that were merely tangentially related to sanctification. A few even took the space allotted for their response to an essay to continue harping on an issue or drag in another issue all together. This book was required reading for a class, and I found it to be quite disappointing. On a positive "self" note, this is my 48th book to have completed this year....so, there's that.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joe Earle

    These multi-view books are generally unhelpful in that they place each view before the reader as if they are near equals; as if each view approached Scripture with the same commitment and fidelity as the others. Sadly, this is almost never true. In this book, apart from Ferguson’s solid essay (the only reason I give it two stars), there is little to commend. My encouragement: spend your time elsewhere.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    I only read the Reformed view by Sinclair Ferguson. He outlines the Reformed view in 2 points: 1. Jesus himself is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30) 2. It is through union with Christ that sanctification is accomplished in us. Through this he explains how we should think about our sanctification, and the idea of having died to our sin but still having to put to death our sins. Very helpful especially in understanding Romans 6:1-14.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Mills

    I HIGHLY recommend and wish someone had shown me this sooner! It is by no means a perfect explanation of the 5 traditional Christian views of sanctification, but each author does present a solid argument. This book has taught me to better understand my own Reformed view of sanctification, as well as understand my brothers in sisters who practice sanctification in different traditions.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tori Hook

    I don't usually enjoy books of theology very much, but this one was very well organized and formatted. Authors from five Christian traditions explained their theology of sanctification and, afterward, the authors responded to one another's articles. One of the more engaging and informative books of theology I've read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bauer Evans

    Clear, helpful in laying out the major views, differences on the doctrine of progressive sanctification among Protestants. Prior to reading this, I did not realize there were 'views.' There clearly are and their differences are significant enough to personally understanding how gospel centered growth and godliness is brought about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Maldre

    Great book that covers the range of sanctification among denominations. This left me hungry for more denominational viewpoints. If like to see a volume 2 with: Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Missouri Synod Lutheran, And Baptist. Yes, I'm listing Lutheran again, only because Forde is an ELCA Lutheran--whose theology and practice differs significantly from Missouri Synod Lutherans.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Barlow

    I read this book two years ago, and recently reread Ferguson's and Forde's chapters. It is certainly thought provoking. The Lutheran view is long on experience and short on Scripture, and the Reformed view seems to be the opposite. I think there is an uneasy middle ground to be found which affirms the Reformed description (minus the 3rd use of the Law) and the Lutheran application.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Royce Ratterman

    Most books are rated related to their usefulness and contributions to my research. Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast. Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    As with the Zondervan book on this topic, this volume will give you an orientation to five prominent views on sanctification. It is helpful to read along with the Zondervan volume because of the inclusion of a Lutheran and contemplative model here, not included in the other book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Informative.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hiller

    Forde owns the day here. Fergrson gives a good arguement as well. the best line comes when one of the responders to Forde says, "I wish simul justus et peccator were true."

  20. 5 out of 5

    South Asia

    A great book that helped me understand the differences between different protestant views of sanctification.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    Actually I didn't finish it. But Sinclair Ferguson's defense of the Reformed view was terrific.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Donohue

    Very helpful when visiting a new church, can see how they view the living out of faith

  23. 5 out of 5

    Philip Ryan

    One of the best books I read in Seminary.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Biel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tom Velasco

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Brennan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Rempel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miles Foltermann

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steven Lister

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve

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