Office Hours: Sanctification, Perfectionism, And Romans 7

Office HoursThere are many ways to err in the doctrine and practice of sanctification. One of the most egregious errors the church has faced, which continues to afflict believers, is the teaching that believers can and should reach “entire sanctification” in this life. Pelagius and his followers taught this in the 4th and 5th centuries. It re-emerged in the 13th century, in the 16th century, and again in the 18th century. Augustine, the Reformers, B. B. Warfield, and Abraham Kuyper all wrote against perfectionism. Nevertheless the idea persists and finds some sympathy within Reformed circles. One antidote for perfectionism is to reckon fully with Romans chapter 7 and similar passages. They help us to calibrate our expectations properly. Now, there are some challenges in getting to grips with Romans 7 but it is worth the effort. So, it is a good thing that Joel Kim, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California, joins us to talk about these issues. Joel has been working on the history of the interpretation of Romans 7 for several years. You can read the results of his research in Always Reformed.

Here is the episode. Thanks for listening!

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  1. Good presentation and discussion. Thanks for posting. This is an area where I find myself at odds with a great many fellow believers of an “evangelical” persuasion who think that they’re on-track by living a “victorious Christian life.” This concept has been covered elsewhere, but it fits in very well with the way we interpret (misinterpret) Romans 7.

    One puzzling issue, however. I heard brief mention of “over realized eschatology” during the audio. I understand how some people may fall into this trap, thinking they are establishing the groundwork for the eschaton by personal holy living – or even by working to establish perfection (sinlessness) in the culture.

    What I do not understand are those who might still belong under the umbrella of over realized eschatology, but have nevertheless seemingly abandoned any idea of the law, embracing all forms of lewd and murderous living (gay rights, abortion) under the guise of social justice and tolerance. And many of these belong to denominations that can be traced back to the likes of August Francke, a father of Pietism, who would never have embraced such ideas in his attempt to get people to live piously. Confused.

  2. The episode was good. I would like to add that those who believe they can be perfect either do not properly understand the Bible or have never raised teenagers or both.

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