The holy has been defined existentially and sociologically, and churches too often allow their expectations regarding holiness to be prompted by existential aspirations or the social mores of the Christian community. Perhaps it is not surprising that many view holiness as accidental or expendable, even as a legalistic and conformist posture opposed to the freedom of the gospel. But sanctification is one of the gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we must think about the way in which he makes his redeemed holy as a grace.
Sanctification, the latest volume in the New Studies in Dogmatics series, patiently defines holiness in theological terms by tending to its connections with core Christian doctrines such as the character of God, the nature of creation, and the covenantal shape of life with God. It then considers the ways in which the gospel of Jesus not only prompt us to holy action but provides holiness as one of its blessings. Finally, it attends to the ways in which the gift of sanctification relates to various human instruments and means, so that we can appreciate its connection to human nature, creaturely responsibility, and the pedagogy of exemplars and of law. Sanctification offers a Christ-centered account of sanctification by viewing the doctrine within its wider canonical and creedal context, hoping to bring its distinctly Christian definition and thoroughly gracious character into greater relief.
New Studies in Dogmatics seeks to retrieve the riches of Christian doctrine for the sake of contemporary theological renewal. Following in the tradition of G. C. Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics, this series will provide thoughtful, concise, and readable treatments of major theological topics, expressing the biblical, creedal, and confessional shape of Christian doctrine for a contemporary evangelical audience. The editors and contributors share a common conviction that the way forward in constructive systematic theology lies in building upon the foundations laid in the church’s historic understanding of the Word of God as professed in its creeds, councils, and confessions, and by its most trusted teachers.
Allen delivers a work of classical Reformed theology. He irenicallydifferentiates the Reformed position on sanctification from someLutheran positions, through careful biblical exegesis and retrieval ofCalvin, Augustine, Berkouwer, and others. From a more traditionallyReformed perspective, Allen here inherits the mantle of JohnWebster. As a Catholic, I am deeply grateful for Michael Allen’svision, with the ecumenical conjunctions that it reveals. – Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
Here is learned and extensive dogmatic exposition in the grand oldEuropean academic style. Weaving together both biblical and systematictheological perspectives, Professor Michael Allen leads us, his students,in a genuine theological discussion rooted in wide reading and maturereflection. Sanctification thus points us beyond a bare textbook-styleaccumulation of information to the higher goal of a genuine knowledgeof God and transformation into the image of Christ. A veryworthy addition to what already promises to be an impressive series. – Sinclair B. Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Michael Allen believes that the gospel is large enough to cover notonly the guilt but the dominion of sin. This volume gives furtherevidence of the author’s reliability as a faithful steward of the mysteriesof God. Learn, mark and inwardly digest this rich feast. – Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics Westminster Seminary California
In Sanctification, Michael Allen presents a lucid dogmatic portrait ofthe glorious mystery of new life in Christ. Allen’s book offers a feastfor readers to feed upon this truth. Framed in conversation with thebest of contemporary scholarship, Allen brings together scripturalexegesis, patristic and Protestant commentary, and wide-rangingtheological exposition. Sanctification is a model of biblical, Reformedcatholicity, which both breaks new ground and retrieves insightsfrom the past. Highly recommended for students, scholars, and otherswho hunger for a theological account of sanctification in Christ! – J. Todd Billings, Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology, Western Theological Seminary
Holiness is good news, Allen reminds us, for sanctification is allabout God sharing his own holiness with us in Christ. As he unpacksthis gospel of holiness, Allen presents a marvelous ‘minor dogmatics,’ranging through a variety of doctrines, and grounding our holinessin the one and only place where it must originate–theeternalbeing of God himself. Steeped within Reformed catholicity, Allen’sbiblical retrieval draws from a wide range of sources: patristic, medieval,and modern. The result is an irenic and deeply thoughtful book. – Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College
One of the great strengths of Michael Allen’s work is that he resiststhe temptation of treating sanctification in isolation; instead, he callsattention to how this vital doctrine draws upon and informs a multitudeof other doctrines. Consequently, Allen provides a rich anddistinctive account of holiness that certainly deserves our attentionand thanks. – Kelly Kapic, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College
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