Daniel P. Fuller’s Doctrine Of Justification: Antithetical To The Reformation

Finally, a word needs to be said about the confessional implications of Fuller’s doctrine of Justification. Fuller claims that there are “several passages in Scripture which clearly indicate that the enjoyment of God’s gracious benefits depends on meeting certain conditions” (p. 108). He also states that some texts, “imply that grace is conditional” (p. 108). His reading of the biblical material causes a radical redefinition of the Protestant doctrine of justification. If Fuller is not clear on this point in Gospel & Law, he is very clear in subsequent debates about the book that “good works” are the “instrumental cause” of Justification.[16] How can these statements be regarded as anything less than a renunciation of sola gratia and sola fide? The bottom line is that the only difference between Fuller’s view and the Roman Catholic view is that Fuller does not conceive a roll for the sacramental administration in the “good works” required by the believer. The present reviewer regards Fuller’s conclusions as antithetical to the Reformation.

—Denny Burk, Review of Daniel P. Fuller’s Gospel & Law: Contrast or Continuum? (2004)

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One comment

  1. Daniel Fuller in The Unity of the Bible (1992, Zondervan)., p 181: “In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.’

    Daniel Fuller: I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith .In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, for Calvin, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works.

    Dan Fuller responds to Calvin: “I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional.”

    Calvin (3:17:12): “Either James inverted faith and obedience–unlawful even to imagine–or he did not mean to call him justified, as if Abraham deserved to be reckoned righteous. What then? Surely, it is clear that he himself is speaking of the declaration, not the imputation, of righteousness.”

    Daniel Fuller ( p 313): “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. Paul would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…The concern in James 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6.”

    And then Daniel Fuller quotes Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

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