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

by
Thomas R. Schreiner
& Ardel B. Caneday



Monday, July 28, 2008

Steve Fernandez on The Race Set Before Us: First Installment

Yesterday I posted an entry concerning Steve Fernandez's book Free Justification: The Glorification of Christ in the Justification of a Sinner. Lamentably, he has published the same errors that he published in the internet PDF version of his first chapter titled, Free Justification: A Hill to Die On.

I have engaged in brief discussion of the book on Between Two Worlds where I have posted the following comment. I have made a couple of brief additions with color coding to make more obvious Steve Fernandez's errors of citation.

_____________________________

Report,

Thanks for posting your reply. I feared that Steve Fernandez published his material without correcting his misrepresentations of our book.

You provided two footnotes from Fernandez's book
Free Justification: The Glorification of Christ in the Justification of a Sinner. In the internet version of his first chapter, Free Justification: A Hill to Die On, he includes three endnotes that interact with The Race Set Before Us. In each of his three endnotes Fernandez commits several errors that demonstrate that he both misunderstands and misrepresents our meaning because of his sloppy manner of quoting what we say.

I will interact with only the first of the three endnotes to show the kinds of errors that Fernandez has committed, especially his abuse of elliptical citation, by excluding from his citation significantly crucial paragraphs that provide context and meaning. Were I to interact with all three endnotes, my comment would become extremely long. So, ponder closely the footnote that you have provided from page 12 of the published book. Compare it to endnote 5 copied and pasted from the original PDF here.

Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday for example, among others, hold to a view that persevering faith is a means of accomplishing our final justification. In other words, they teach that faith and perseverance aren’t merely an evidence of justification as understood since the Reformation, but they are an actual means of accomplishing the ‘not yet’ aspect of justification which is completed on the last day. Schreiner remarks, “Since the Reformation, many Protestant Christians have tended to overstate Paul’s doctrine of justification…The consequence has been to exaggerate salvation’s already aspects with the effect that Paul’s orientation on salvation as not yet realized has virtually collapsed . . . For Paul, justification remains fundamentally the eschatological verdict of acquittal. Paul makes one thing clear: God’s promise of salvation is conditional. On the day of judgment God will award eternal life to those who persevere in good works (Romans 2:7, 10), because God does not justify hearers of the law, but doers of the law” (Romans 2:13). Thomas Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday, The Race Set Before Us, (Inter Varsity Press, 2001), pp. 160, 161, 166, 167. Their emphasis is clear: a full and complete justification awaits the verdict of the final day. It is conditioned on persevering. This is not the Biblical Pauline gospel recovered by the Reformers.

Now, please ponder how badly Steve Fernandez has misrepresented what Tom and I actually published in The Race Set Before Us. Steve Fernandez's words are in italics. Tom's and my words are in bolded normal red font standing between square brackets []. I have also inserted into one set of square brackets a brief explanation of where Steve Fernandez fails to insert an indication of an extremely long ellipis that omits 1/4 of the words on page 161, all of words on pages 162, 163, 164, 165, and all but one word [Paul] at the bottom of page 166 to skip over to the top of page 167. I indicate my brief explanation with bolded normal blue font. Such an error is incredible.

Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday for example, among others, hold to a view that persevering faith is a means of accomplishing our final justification. In other words, they teach that faith and perseverance aren’t merely an evidence of justification as understood since the Reformation, but they are an actual means of accomplishing the ‘not yet’ aspect of justification which is completed on the last day. Schreiner remarks, “Since the Reformation, many Protestant Christians have tended to overstate Paul’s doctrine of justification. . . [so that it swallows up all other metaphors for salvation.] The consequence has been to exaggerate salvation’s already aspects with the effect that Paul’s orientation on salvation as not yet realized has virtually collapsed. . . . [into an overrealized view that the whole of salvation is already fully ours. Cited from page 160] For Paul, justification remains fundamentally the eschatological verdict of acquittal. [By failing to insert ellipsis marks at this point to indicate that he skips from near the middle of page 161 all the way to the top of page 167, Steve Fernandez makes it appear as if one sentence follows immediately upon the other. However, this is not so at all, for several pages separate the two statements. Actually, between the word "acquittal, followed by a period, and the word "Paul" stands more than five pages of text in The Race Set Before Us. He also does not include the introductory words to the sentence at the very bottom of page 166, which actually reads: “In Romans 2”] Paul makes one thing clear: God’s promise of salvation is conditional. On the day of judgment God will award eternal life to those who persevere in good works (Romans 2:7, 10), because God does not justify hearers of the law but doers of the law” (Romans 2:13).
[Praise from God belongs to all who keep the requirements of the law, to all who obey from hearts circumcised by the Spirit (Rom 2:26, 29).
Because our concern is not to establish the legal basis on which God justifies sinners without losing his reputation as being just and righteous, we pass over much of Paul’s argument, especially Romans 3:21-31. Yet, it is important to recognize that this portion of Paul’s case for his gospel is vital to his argument in Romans 5:1-11, the passage we consider next, for Paul grounds his statements in Romans 5:1-11 on what he has said in 3:21-4:25.
]
Thomas Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday, The Race Set Before Us (Inter Varsity Press, 2001), pp. 160, 161, 166, 167. Their emphasis is clear: a full and complete justification awaits the verdict of the final day. It is conditioned on persevering. This is not the Biblical Pauline gospel recovered by the Reformers.

Sadly, Steve Fernandez misunderstands, but even worse, misrepresents what Tom and I have actually written and published for anyone to read. Keep in mind, also, that he refused to respond to Tom's and my overtures to him to help him understand our meaning by offering crucial corrections to his very sloppy quotations of our words. This is very, very sad, but his errors could easily have been averted, if he had accepted our several appeals.

6 comments:

Report said...

A.B.,

I do not mean to cause you grief and appreciate very much your patience in interacting with me!

Just to clarify you are not advocating a two-part or two-phase justification in anyway shape or form? Your understanding of justification is a single event whereby a sinner is declared righteous (c/f Luke 18:14) by grace alone through faith alone. Perseverance then is a result of justification not a condition of achieving a final justification.

In Steve's footnote pg 19 he cites your work where you say (possibly not in whole and even out of context):

"Perseverance is a means that God has appointed by which one will be saved... we will use the words condition and means interchangeably. When we use the word means, we use it in the sense that perseverance is a necessary means that God has appointed for attaining final salvation."

Is that true that salvation is conditioned upon perseverance?

Could you clarify the difference between a present salvation and a final salvation if there is only one part.

I know there are different tenses to our salvation. This was I believe was first noted by B.B. Warfield where he says that we are "Saved from the penalty of sin (past), Saved from the power of sin (present), Saved from the presence of sin (future)."

Is that what you mean by final salvation - one that is complete in its relation to sin

OR

is that final salvation in its relation to our just standing before God?

I apologize in advance if I'm reading into your words but I'm awaiting my copy of your book.

A. B. Caneday said...

Report,

Thanks for your questions for clarification.

I believe that it is best for me to post the second and third installments of my interaction with Steve Fernandez's misrepresentations and misquotations of The Race Set Before Us in order to address your question more fully and adequately. In particular, I have in mind the fact that you cite Steve's footnote 19. That citation is seriously flawed, as I will demonstrate.

For now, as you read our book, you will find that we, just as any other reputatable evangelical who reads the New Testament with care, affirm that justification before God concerns the Day of Judgment and that justification comes in two phases, precisely because the coming of the Son of God is in two phases. He has come; he will come again. Precisely because Jesus Christ, God's Son, has come and has brought the Day of Judgment into the very midst of history, in that he bore God's Day of Judgment wrath for everyone for whom Christ was appointed to become the once for all time sacrifice for sin, we already stand justified before God by virtue of the fact that we stand in Christ Jesus. Hence, God's Day of Judgment verdict is already ours in Christ. Therefore, when we stand before God in the Last Day, we shall hear his verdict over us declared publicly before the watching world.

Justification comes to us in two completely inseparable phases. Justification is singular in its basis (the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ) and singular in its verdict (justified entirely on sola Christi, sola gratia, and sola fide.

I am profoundly disappointed that Steve Fernandez so badly misrepresents Tom's and my beliefs. I hope that he will eventually publish a retraction.

Report said...

A.B.,

I'll read your book when it arrives and give it a careful read. I must confess, I have my pre-suppositions regarding the doctrine of justification which I've grown to understand as a singular event. It is very natural for me to side with men like Steve who raise red flags when a two-part justification is taught.

The final-day judgment is not a krima judgement but a bema judgment, a rewards judgment as I've come to know it. I'm sure your book will elaborate on reconciling the singular basis of justification and its two-phase event.

A.b. you're quite the patient teacher to take time to explain your views on this comment thread rather than brushing me off. May our Lord bless your teaching ministry and I will await your responses to Steve's book!

A. B. Caneday said...

Report,

Consider that what troubles Steve Fernandez concerning the view we present in The Race Set Before Us is a figment of his fertile imagination. He is in error to attribute to us the notion that justification consists of two parts and is not singular.

Two phases or two aspects do not consitute two events. We studiously avoided using the term "part" to describe the two phases or two aspects of justification, both already and not yet. Why? We refused to use the word "part" because it tends to imply precisely the notion that Steve Fernandez infers. The term "part" tends to imply separable pieces. We believe that justification is of one singular piece, even though it comes to us in two phases or two aspects. As we affirm in our book and as I have repeatedly affirmed in numerous other places, including this blog, justification, which is fundamentally concerned with God's justice which will be disclosed in the Last Day, is a legal or judicial concept in which we already delight because God's verdict of the final day is already ours through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and which we receive by belief. It is as if we have already passed through God's judgment of the Last Day, for we who believe already receive his verdict of acquittal in the present time, in advance of the Day of Judgment.

Is this not wholly biblical? Does this not account for the fullness of the biblical data concerning justification which has both present and future aspects (not parts)? What if evangelicals misconceive of the biblical concept of justification by misconstruing justification as exclusively already to the detriment of the biblical data that makes it clear that justification also has a not yet aspect?

I understand your belief that the Day of Judgment concerns rewards and not salvation. After all, I was reared on that teaching all the way through seminary. But I finally had to relinquish my hold on this notion because it simply does not comport with Scripture. You may find some of my discussion of the issue here. I also understand how difficult it is to shake such a belief.

Thanks for the compliment. I had better be patient to teach or else I had better quit teaching. Patience is an essential characteristic for teachers. This blog is for the purpose of teaching, namely, to interact with anyone who is interested in examining the issues that we address in The Race Set Before Us.

I hope that your reading of our book will be significantly instructive as it has been for so many others and was for us as we wrote it.

Blog said...

Hello A.B.,

I understand what you are saying. You are saying that justification is a singular piece that has two aspects. Steve Fernandez would disagree with you. He believes that justification has only one aspect. Moreover, Fernandez believes that justification does not have a "not yet" aspect. He believes that it only has an "already" aspect.

A. B. Caneday said...

Dear Blog,

I'm sorry that it took awhile for me to moderate your comment.

You wrote, "I understand what you are saying. You are saying that justification is a singular piece that has two aspects. Steve Fernandez would disagree with you. He believes that justification has only one aspect. Moreover, Fernandez believes that justification does not have a "not yet" aspect. He believes that it only has an "already" aspect."

Yes, you do understand the difference. The problem is that Steve Fernandez is wrong in two counts. First, he's wrong to fail to recognize that his view is out of sync with the Scriptures. Second, he's wrong to misrepresent what Tom Schreiner and I affirm. He is guilty of bearing false witness against us.