UPDATE!! – Thomas R. Schreiner responds to: “Book Review: Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment [Chapter Two]“
I am excited to say that we have had the author, Thomas R. Schreiner, from the book, “Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment,” stop by the website. He was kind enough to give a brief response to my critique in my review of his contribution, “Justification Apart From And By Works: At The Final Judgment Works Will Confirm Justification.”
For those that are just joining the conversation, the book is a part of the Counterpoints series and offers four different views on how works will figure in our final judgement before God. My review of the first chapter (the argument of “By Grace Alone”) is here, the response by the author, Robert Wilkin, is here, and my response back to him is here. And my review of Schreiner’s argument is found here.
Below is the portion of my review in which I offer the critique from another author in the book:
There is one critique that I would like to propose. It will be one of the topics in later chapters of this book, namely: did Paul, James, and the other authors of the New Testament intend for there to be a coherent theology gleaned from their disparate epistles? Since they were reacting to specific circumstances, people, and mind-sets – is it fair to neatly tie up their views into one package? Since I, and the subsequent authors in the book, try and let each biblical author speak for himself, I am not sure that we can rashly rush in to a concise theology.
Here is Schreiner’s response:
We shouldn’t rashly conclude that there is a coherent theology. On the other hand, I believe the scriptural authors and most intelligent people respond to specific situations from a particular worldview. In the case of the apostles I would claim, and I think the scriptural authors maintain, that their view is coherent. Paul actually argues that he and the other apostles (including James) proclaim the same gospel (1 Cor. 15:11).
I think one’s doctrine of scriptural inspiration plays a role here as well. I am convinced by the writings of John Frame and D. A. Carson on biblical inspiration and authority and inerrancy, but that is a longer discussion than can be carried out here. I would add that if the authors of scripture actually contradict on the role of works in the final judgment, then they don’t agree on soteriology. And if they actually differ on that matter conceptually, I think studying them is of historical interest (sort of like studying Plato’s thought), but it no longer has an authoritative role for my conception of God and salvation. Such a view is not the historic Christian view of the scriptures, and as I remark to James Dunn, the church has not flourished where the view that the scriptures contradict one another has become predominant.
My thanks to Thomas Schreiner for his response. While I mainly agree with him, I will follow up next week with my thoughts on his response. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am impressed with the caliber of scholars this book collected. They passionately defend their views with the larger goal of Christian unity and brotherliness always in view. Thomas is no exception to that rule – quick, articulate, and fair-minded.