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The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls: A Book Review

The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls: A Book Review

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If you were to ever wish to learn more about the doctrine of justification, you are in luck. Crossway has just released a massive volume on that very topic. Edited by Matthew Barrett, The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls is a 900 page treatise on the doctrine of justification. Does the church really hinge on this doctrine? Barrett and his contributors would certainly assert so.

With this book, not only do you get a whole host of contributors providing for the reader a wealth of knowledge, you also get an excellent foreword by D.A. Carson. As stated, this book is huge. It's broken into four parts: Justification in Biblical Perspective, Justification in Theological Perspective, Justification in Church HIstory, and Justification in Pastoral Practice. Each chapter is written in essay form so it allows the reader to go through the book chronologically or to skip right to the topic related to justification that he or she may be interested in.

Matthew Barrett's introduction to the work is brilliant as it gives the reader a bird's eye view of what to expect when reading the various parts and essays in this book. He also lays out the importance of justification for the modern Christian. Barrett says, "So, too, does this volume wade into the deep waters of the doctrine of justification sensing the weightiness of what is at stake. In the twenty-first century, challenges to justification are legion. No longer do they surface from the one or two disciplines, but they can be seen in nearly every field of study. For any treatment on justification to be taken seriously, therefore, it must provide a robust articulation, explanation, and defense of justification within the contours of biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral studies." The reader can take confidence that when they invest in this book they will be approaching a serious work meant to be a resource they will use for years to come.

What I found especially and immediately helpful in this book were parts one and four. Part one takes the reader through justification beginning in the Old Testament and all the way through the New Testament. I can’t help but mention the essay dealing with Romans titled The Righteous God Righteously Righteousness the Unrighteous—what a title! Part four shows us why justification is relevant and necessary in salvation and all of ministry right here and right now. Both of these parts will be immediately helpful to the pastor who needs to preach justification from the Old Testament and understand how justification fits in his ministry here and now. Part two is also very helpful if you’re unfamiliar with theological aspects of justification (we can all always use reminders). Part three is necessary because we can gain a better hold on justification by understanding the dealings with it throughout church history. 

I think this book is a valuable resource for those in ministry and for those wanting to know God more—which should be all of us! I will say though that I do not think this is a beginner level book. There is a helpful chart in the front of the book that aids with abbreviations and terms, but this still is not a book that those unfamiliar with theology will find easily accessible. It may require some work and digging to understand. However, I think the work would be worth it as justification truly is a very important topic. I could easily see it being used in a group setting for discussion and it would profitable being used this way as those less familiar could be helped with discussion. 

The whole of the Christian faith hinges on sinners being made right before God. Therefore, this book is aptly titled. The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls is such a valuable resource. Justification is of prime importance. We need this resource and I’m thankful for the contributors, editor, and Crossway for making it available to us. 

You can pick up your copy of The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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