This blog is devoted to discussing the pursuit of eternal life.
Discussion and participation by readers is desired,
but contributions should correlate to the book,
The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology
of Perseverance & Assurance

Thomas R. Schreiner
& Ardel B. Caneday

Monday, December 03, 2007

D. A. Carson reviews VanLandingham's book

I have addressed Chris VanLandingham's book, Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul. Read the two entries here.

Now, D. A. Carson reviews the book here.

Read Michael Bird's interview with Chris VanLandingham on Chris Tilling's blog.


jgb said...

In part 3 of the interview Chris VanL says, "I am not sure what you mean by 'eschatological justification' since 'justification' does not appear to be eschatological (again, 'justification' is a mistranslation)."

Admittedly, I am new to this larger discussion on the eschatological nature of justification so I am not aware of all the arguments for or against it (especially against it). Dr. Caneday, do you know what Chris's argument is here against considering justification as eschatological?

A. B. Caneday said...


Chris's argument against taking justification as eschatological is basically as follows from his book.

Of course, one cannot make any arguments about judgment by deeds in Paul without considering and ultimately reconciling them with the notion of "justification by faith." Since Martin Luther, the Pauline doctrine of "justification by faith" has had a direct bearing on the interpretation of the Last Judgment in Paul. . . . Widespread, though not unanimous, support persists for the view that justification refers to an acquittal at the Last Judgment that is pronounced proleptically at the time of faith in Christ. Such an understanding cannot be sustained if at the Last Judgment God recompenses each one's eternal destiny according to behavior. In the pursuit of this overall thesis, a number of sub-arguments are necessary for correcting certain readings of Paul that force judgment passages to conform with the doctrine of justification by faith. The notion of justification by faith must be understood in light of the judgment passages (pp. 175-176).

Following are VanLandingham's itemized sub-arguments.

1. One of Paul's primary concerns for his converts pertains to their moral state, particularly at the time of the judgment. Paul endeavors to make the Gentiles acceptable to God, in part by bringing their behavior into conformity with what God requires. What is at issue "before God" at the judgment is one's moral state--in the end one's moral state makes one "acceptable" to God.

2. Justice at the Last Judgment is retributive and, consequentially, eternal life and damnation are given respectively to those who are deserving. Eternal destiny is the primary issue at the Last Judgment. One's eternal destiny has not been determined beforehand, such as at the time fo faith in Christ. Specifically, if justification by faith refers to an acquittal at the Last Judgment, which one receives proleptically at the time of faith in Christ, then one should expect some hint of this idea in the Pauline judgment passages. This idea, however, remains absent in those very judgment passages where this notion of justification by faith should have some imprint (based on the forensic interpretation of the dikai- group of terms).

3. The Last Judgment includes a possibility that God might reject believers on the basis of their moral failure. Paul does not state directly, or even imply that one cannot forfeit "salvation" regardless of one's behavior.

See my First Considerations of Chris VanLandingham's book.