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by Ian Hewitson

ePub Trust and Obey (Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminister Seminary) download
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Ian Hewitson
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978-0911802832
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0911802835
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NextStep Resources (2011)
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Hewitson, Ian (2011). Trust and Obey: Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary. Minneapolis, MN: NextStep Resources.

Hewitson, Ian (2011). p. 40. ISBN 978-118-0283-2. Hewitson, Trust and Obey, p. 19. ^ Hewitson, Trust and Obey, pp. 92. ^ Jelle Faber, Shepherd's Concept of the Covenant. Jelle Faber, Shepherd's Dismissal from Westminster Seminary. David VanDrunen, Justification by Faith In the Theology of Norman Shepherd. O. Palmer Robertson (2003). The Current Justification Controversy.

Ian Hewitson sheds light on an important controversy at Westminster Seminary that still rings through its halls. Those who trust in Him alone with a living and active faith will be justified" (Hewitson, 26 emphasis added)

Ian Hewitson sheds light on an important controversy at Westminster Seminary that still rings through its halls. I think the book makes a convincing case that the Norman Shepherd controversy was mishandled and that Shepherd's theology demands some serious consideration. This is a great book to gain perspective on Shepherd's Westminster controversy. Those who trust in Him alone with a living and active faith will be justified" (Hewitson, 26 emphasis added). The distinction between faith and works is important for those of the Protestant Reformation, but-the Lutherans and Calvinists expressed that difference in pedantic, yet ponderous ways.

The controversy began when Associate Professor Norman Shepherd’s teaching on James 2:14-21, came under. This work examines the historical details and the theological implications of a controversy that took place at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The controversy began when Associate Professor Norman Shepherd’s teaching on James 2:14-21, came under intense scrutiny. He was dismissed from his teaching post despite repeated exonerations by the seminary’s board, faculty and by his own presbytery.

implications of a controversy that took place at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The controversy began when Associate Professor Norman Shepherd’s teaching on James 2:14- 21, came under intense scrutiny.

Almost too detailed in its chronicling the events leading to Norman Shepherd's resignation from Westminster Theological Seminary

Almost too detailed in its chronicling the events leading to Norman Shepherd's resignation from Westminster Theological Seminary. Once and for all vindicates Shepherd from the charges of Neonomism and being out of accord with Westminster. The fact that Shepherd was ever thought to be teaching something that conflicted with the standards is just a testimony to the bankruptcy of most Reformed intellectual efforts in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Dec 16, 2012 Jon rated it it was amazing. This is an excellent resource for understanding all sides of the controversy.

Shepherd had a number of views that were criticized as being contrary to the Westminster Standards, and this led him to be. Hewitson, Ian (2011).

Shepherd had a number of views that were criticized as being contrary to the Westminster Standards, and this led him to be dismissed from his post at Westminster. Firstly, Shepherd argued that evangelism should be carried out with covenant in mind rather than election, which will lead the evangelist to say to people, "Christ died to save yo. This was criticized as being a denial of limited atonement ^ Hewitson, Ian (2011).

Trust and Obey (Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminister Seminary). There are those in the Church today who are fearful about anyone who raises a question concerning the ambiguities associated with the formula "justification by faith alone.

Norman Shepherd (born 1933) is an American theologian who served as associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological . Hewitson, Trust and Obey, pp. Jelle Faber, Shepherd's Concept of the Covenant.

Norman Shepherd (born 1933) is an American theologian who served as associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1963 to 1981. Shepherd had a number of views that were criticized as being contrary to the Westminster Standards, and this led him to be dismissed from his post at Westminster.

The shepherd controversies. In such a case, it is not by believing alone that we are justified, but by believing and obeying together

The shepherd controversies. Norman Shepherd began teaching systematic theology at Westminster Seminary (Philadelphia) in 1963. In the mid-1970s, controversy over Shepherd’s teaching broke out in the Westminster community and in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, in which Shepherd was serving as a minister at the time. In such a case, it is not by believing alone that we are justified, but by believing and obeying together. In contrast to the clear precision of traditional Reformed theology in distinguishing the roles of faith and obedience, Shepherd never carefully defines what his terminology means. The Difference betwee.

There are those in the Church today who are fearful about anyone who raises a question concerning the ambiguities associated with the formula "justification by faith alone." The exclusive particle sola introduced by Luther has undoubtedly performed a valuable service in signalizing the distinction between the Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrines of justification and in preventing the intrusion of merit on the part of man as a criterion of acceptability before God. The long and cherished tradition that lies behind "justification by faith alone" as a theological formula would make it appear to be an act of ingratitude, if not impiety, to raise the question of its adequacy as a summary of the thrust of the biblical doctrine of justification. Even so, it was the Reverend Professor Norman Shepherd's examination of the Scripture alone that gave him the courage to raise precisely this question.
  • Ian Hewitson is professor of Biblical & Theological Studies at Northwestern College; before this, he was a minister for 14 years. He wrote in the Preface to this 2011 book, "The book that you have before you was conceived in 2003. At that time, I was hearing rumors about Norman Shepherd's alleged lack of orthodoxy, but by then I had known Professor Shepherd for ten years and he had been my minister for six of those years... I heard, and witnessed, nothing from him that caused me to be at all suspicious of either his teaching or his person... I came to the conclusion that something had to be done to restore Professor Shepherd's good name... I was obliged to come to the defense of a man I had come to believe was being unjustly slandered... it is a privilege to set before the reader an accurate account of a controversy that has been, and continues to be, destructive of the body of Christ." (Pg. 15) He adds, "having examined both the administrative and the theological evidence and having found that no charges were ever made at any time, during the controversy against Professor Shepherd, either doctrinal or moral and in view of the fact that he was repeatedly exonerated from all allegations by the seminary and by his presbytery, we can affirm with certainty that... his teaching on justification by faith, his exegesis of James 2 and its consonance with the teachings of Paul, his teaching on baptism, and his understanding of the `covenant dynamic' were judged to be in harmony with Scripture and Confession and therefore do not represent departures from historical Reformed theology. In short, his formulations were found to be orthodox." (Pg. 17)

    He points out, "The long and cherished tradition that lies behind `justification by faith alone' ... would appear to make it an act of ... impiety, to raise the question of its adequacy as a summary of the thrust of the biblical doctrine of justification. Nevertheless, for ... Shepherd, there were reasons that made it necessary to raise precisely this question. For Shepherd, there is the fact that neither the Apostle Paul nor any other biblical author uses the expression `justification by faith alone.' ... the formula `justification by faith alone' appears to be a reasonable rendering of the sense of `justification without the works of the law' [Gal 2:16]. Traditionally the matter has rested at this point... and could remain there were it not for the fact that ... James writes (2:24) `You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.' It is to James 2:24 that Professor Shepherd turned his attention. The result of his inquiry ... was a controversy that lasted seven years and still rages today... Professor Shepherd was compelled to study further the question of why the Protestant church was not content with the Pauline language ... `justification "without the works of the law.'" Why was it necessary to say `justification by faith alone'?... why did the language of James not become... as popular in the church as the language of Pau?" (Pg. 21-22)

    He notes, "the theological problem that provoked seven years of controversy was how to speak of conditions in the application of redemption and yet maintain the priority of grace in the use of the word `faith.' How could one speak of grace while maintaining the ... necessity of perseverance? According to Shepherd's opponents, these questions had long been settled. But for Shepherd, these questions were the unfinished task of Reformed theology. This was the task to which Shepherd was fully committed, and it would engage him during the remainder of his tenure at WTS [Westminster Theological Seminary], and it would eventually result in his dismissal." (Pg. 32-33)

    In November 1981, "Although the [WTS] board stated that doctrinal errors were not the reason for removing Shepherd, removing him in the name of the `best interests' of the seminary functionally achieved the stated goals of the minority... [which] had been focused on condemning what they believed to be the erroneous teaching of Professor Shepherd. Had the faculty at any time opposed Shepherd's views, he would have had to leave the seminary... Shepherd's continuation was supported not only by a majority of the faculty for also by two senior members who had been with the institution from its founding and who were familiar with its character and purpose; they were Paul Woolley and Cornelius Van Til." (Pg. 92) He adds, "To date, Shepherd has not received a formal letter from the board of trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary informing him of his dismissal." (Pg. 103)

    He observes that the document, `The Commission on Allegations regarding Professor Shepherd: Summary of Allegations,' lists "outside theologians who `concluded' that `Mr Shepherd's views were wrong.' The... Committee... did not agree on which questions were asked of these theologians... The questions were prejudicial and were designed to elicit a negative response... one of Shepherd's most important papers was not included in the package... Shepherd was provided no opportunity to explain or defend any of this positions; neither was her permitted to inquire whether the outside theologians subscribed to the Westminster Standards." (Pg. 210-211)

    He asserts, "the procedural complexities and the multiple interests listed above should not disguise the central and abiding issue: At its heart, this struggle was over theology... Shepherd maintained that the Reformed church was not settled in its understanding of several of these doctrines. He believed that the church can and should continue to learn from the Bible and that the church can and should continue to learn from the Bible and that the church must always be examining her teachings in the light of Scripture, with Scripture alone... being the final authority. He believed that the Reformed church's teachings regarding faith, works, and justification were not settled, but that the church had within her pale the resources to answer the questions that he raised during the controversy. Further, he was firmly convinced that the church could ... better express herself in a manner that conformed to the pattern of total scriptural witness. Shepherd's opponents... were convinced that these matters had been settled at the time of the Reformation. Many of them felt that tentative inquiries into these central doctrines could only threaten the gospel." (Pg. 220-221)

    He concludes, "This book has sought to demonstrate that Westminster Seminary perpetrated an injustice against the reverend Professor Norman Shepherd ... [when] they removed him from his teaching position at the seminary.... Westminster Seminary did not have adequate grounds to remove Shepherd. The persistence of a minority within the seminary community ... along with certain pressures that came to bear on the seminary both financially and politically, finally culminated in the capitulation of the board in their decision to censure him... Westminster Seminary also had no grounds theologically to remove him from his teaching post... his understanding of justification by faith... and his understanding of the `covenant dynamic' did not represent a departure from historic Reformed theology... This study seeks... to remove suspicion from Shepherd and to restore to him that which is more precious to him than silver or gold---his good name, a name besmirched not by enemies of the gospel but by brothers." (Pg. 225-226)

    This book will certainly not resolve all the controversy over Shepherd's doctrinal teachings. (For a critical view of Shepherd, you might read The Current Justification Controversy.) But this very detailed account will be "must reading" for anyone wanting to follow the progress of the controversy at WTS.

  • Ian Hewitson sheds light on an important controversy at Westminster Seminary that still rings through its halls. I think the book makes a convincing case that the Norman Shepherd controversy was mishandled and that Shepherd's theology demands some serious consideration. This is a great book to gain perspective on Shepherd's Westminster controversy.

  • Hewitson, Ian. Trust and Obey: Norman Shepherd and the Justification Controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary. Minneapolis MN, NextStep Resources, 2011, Pp. 277. $25.00

    Do you know how faith and works fit together? If we are saved from our sins by faith, then why all the commands to do good works? Why does Paul say we are justified by faith, but James says, "you see that a man is not justified by faith alone, but by his works (2:24)? How can we express the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and yet find any congruence with what James says?

    In the late 1970's and early 1980's, the doctrine of justification by "faith alone" came under scrutiny at Westminster Theological Seminary. One of the reasons that precipitated a long, drawn-out, and painful controversy there is because the Rev. Norman Shepherd sought to do faithful exegesis of the text of Scripture in comparing the so-called contradictory pronouncements on justification between Paul and James. He did so while staying faithful to his Reformed tradition as expressed in the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms). While Shepherd came to question Luther's statement of "justification by faith alone," he wondered why exegetical theology could not express itself in terms of the simpler, and more biblical, "justification by faith." It was, after all, Martin Luther who added the gloss "alone" (glauben allein) into the text of Romans 3:28, which is not in the Greek text.

    Ian Hewitson, Ph.D. University of Aberdeen, reveals in his clear, erudite dissertation, that at the crux of the debate over Shepherd's teachings was the Lutheran-Calvinist distinction in what constitutes justifying faith. For Luther, the faith that justifies is "alone." That is, faith is an entity that exists all by itself, is "alone," and is devoid of any and all good works. In this sense "justification by faith alone" uses "alone" as an adjective. What kind of faith is it that justifies? It is an "alone" faith. It is faith in abstraction from all else. That is the adjectival use of the word "alone" in "justification by faith alone."

    The Calvinist understanding, however was comfortable with the notion of justifying faith as a living, active, obedient faith. The (Calvinist) Westminster Confession of Faith states, "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love" (Chapter 10, Section 2). The Calvinist understanding of "justification by faith alone" uses "alone" in the adverbial sense. That is, faith is an adverb. Adverbs modify verbs. Hence, we ask the question this time: how is a person justified? The answer is, "the only way of salvation is by Jesus Christ and by His work on our behalf. Those who trust in Him alone with a living and active faith will be justified" (Hewitson, 26 emphasis added).

    The distinction between faith and works is important for those of the Protestant Reformation, but--the Lutherans and Calvinists expressed that difference in pedantic, yet ponderous ways. Hewitson adds excellent detail and documentation to this discussion in the opening of the book, which sets the stage for the reader to understand the base assumptions of the controversy in these historical terms.

    Of important note in this book is Hewitson's discussion of the temporal versus the logical distinction between justification and sanctification. The difference here is expressed in the fact that both sides on the controversy believe there should be a distinction between justification (legal declaration of the forgiveness of sins) on the one hand, and sanctification (growing in grace, holiness, and Christ-likeness), on the other. The desire to draw the distinction between justification and sanctification is not only understandable, but absolutely necessary, because otherwise justification would be a process. If justification is a process, then believers have no comfort of the total forgiveness of sins, because they remain sinners. This would put people in jeopardy of submitting to a system of cleansing that provides no assurance and is based on works. Shepherd's opponents, however, insisted on a temporal distinction between justification and sanctification, and a temporal distinction here does not leave room for language that describes saving faith as "living, active and obedient," while a logical distinction does. A logical distinction merely discusses the differences between justification and sanctification in the essence of their respective imports, but that does not mean that they cannot happen at the same time. In fact, the Westminster Standards speak of justification and sanctification as "inseparably joined," yet distinct (Larger Catechism, Q. 77). Oddly enough, some reformed pastors today want to speak of a "nanosecond" that exists between justification and sanctification, in order to rescue the doctrine of "justification by faith alone." Thus, the commitment to a temporal distinction results in extra-biblical terminology that has no basis in Scripture, confuses people, and wreaks of scholasticism. The logical distinction holds true to the Larger Catechism, the message of Scripture and the idea that one is justified by a living, active, obedient faith.

    One of the major components of the controversy was Shepherd's understanding of the "covenant dynamic" with respect to election. Shepherd taught that with respect to election, Christians must not look to the doctrine of the divine decrees in order to know if someone or one's self is elect, because Christians do not have access to that information: only God does. But what do Christians have access to? Well, that would be the Scriptures, and human experience. Shepherd therefore taught that election (and other doctrines) may be understood from two perspectives: God's and man's. For election to be understood from the perspective of the covenant sounded too much like Roman Catholic or Arminian theology to Shepherd's opponents, and even though he was exonerated time and again by the seminary, his opponents did not give up. However, Hewitson shows with remarkable clarity, skill and research that Shepherd was supported by Scripture, Reformed tradition in the Standards and in the writings of the Reformers themselves, as well as Faculty at the seminary.

    Hewitson provides a good sketch of Shepherd's bi-perspectival approach, or what is called his "covenant dynamic." The covenant dynamic seeks to express the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. One asks, "If the elect can never fall away, then how do we make sense of the warning passages that warn God's people to persevere in the faith in order to avoid eternal judgment?" The covenant dynamic speaks to the issue of divine sovereignty and human responsibility with respect to this issue (and others) by means of the dynamic of two perspectives: God's and man's. For example, from God's perspective, there is divine election. Corresponding to this is man's perspective, which is membership in the church. Now, Shepherd's opponents could not (or would not?) understand this paradigm, and accused Shepherd of teaching that membership in the church meant a person was elect--in term's of God's perspective, that is. But Shepherd made himself very clear, as Hewitson shows in his documentation, that he meant a person may be considered elect by virtue of their membership in the church, not because anyone has access to God's divine decree (the book of Life), but because one has access to the standards of the covenant (revealed in Scripture, the covenant document), and the standards of the covenant are that one belongs to the church (marked by baptism). From man's perspective, one can say a certain member in the church is elect, because that person confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, is baptized, and lives a life that expresses obedience to Him (not sinless obedience, you understand). But that person, according to the divine decree may not be elect--they may not really believe at all, and may prove this by falling away from the faith some day and never coming back. So, they apostatize. In this sense (man's perspective here), their status as "elect" was not irrevocable. However, on the opposite end, in terms of the divine decree and God's perspective, they never actually were elect, and they have proven this by their confession and/or lifestyle (or both). But from man's perspective, there was--at one time--every reason to believe they were elect.

    Time after time, Shepherd was exonerated from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was never found guilty of error. He was never found guilty of heresy. Ever. In fact, he has to this day to receive a letter of dismissal from WTS. Readers will find this book not a little damning toward those who opposed him. Hewitson even indulges readers with personal interviews and letters of Shepherd's main protractors.

    Believing that Norman Shepherd is heterodox, unorthodox, or a heretic is impossible after reading this book. That is, unless the evidence is dismissed, disbelieved, or counted as insufficient. But the evidence that Ian Hewitson provides in this tome is overwhelming. First, Hewitson reveals with meticulous detail, the history behind the justification controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The amount of documentation from various meetings (Board of Trustees, Faculty and other committees) is as high and interminable as a WWII pillbox on Omaha beach. Second, Hewitson covers the theological debate in a clear, outlined format that shows exactly what the controversy covered concerning Shepherd's views, namely on covenant, election, baptism, and justification (with a discussion on the phrase, "justification by faith alone"). He shows from Shepherd's own writings, those of the Westminster Standards, and of the Reformers as well, that Shepherd's theological thought was well within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy, and in fact reflected much of it, including the likes of Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck, and John Murray, Shepherd's predecessor.

    Hewitson's chief aim in this book is to "rise to the defense of a man [he] had come to believe was being unjustly slandered" (p.15). After reading the story of what happened to Shepherd, and how a few, bold, men opposed him--after reading the account of the witch hunt that went secretly behind the authority of the seminary--after reading the personal letters of those who opposed and supported him, it is difficult to read the book without gasping at the activity of Christian men who sought the destruction of a brother after being exonerated by the seminary countless times. Of course, Hewitson is so fair-minded in his history, and so objective in his retelling, that one reads this story from the perspective of receiving just the facts. But, as John Frame tells in the forward, that fact is this--that after all the controversy, the seminary came to an impasse: Shepherd's opponents were causing a stir that was "injuring the seminary's reputation, enrollment, and financial stability.... There is no way in which the seminary could have silenced Shepherd's critics; it had to choose between Shepherd and them. And so they perpetrated an injustice" (p.11).

    This book should be read by all. This isn't just playing games with theological skirmishes. Anyone who wants to understand how faith and works correspond to one another will be edified. Most importantly, they should learn from Norman Shepherd what sound, exegetical theology looks like, and they should honor his name.

  • Honestly, not worth the money. He is extremely ambiguous anf if you aren't careful you'll find yoirself denying Sola Fide. Guy Waters and O. Palmer Robertson have the best treatments on the Shepherd controversy.