William Hendricksen’s Judgment Regarding Shepherd

Shepherd, as I see it, is going into an extreme…when I started to read what he said about j(ustification) by faith, I was hoping that he mean that this faith must be more than a merely abstract acceptance of a proposition; in other words, that it must be a warm and living faith, a genuine trust in Jesus Christ, unto salvation. Sorry to say, however, I find that some of the brother’s statements are of a more serious and erroneous nature. He at times identifies faith with grace, seems to endorse the position that good works are necessary for justification, attacks Luther for having maintained that sinners are saved ALLEIN DURCH DEN GLAUBEN.1 He seems at times to confuse justification with sanctification. His interpretation of James 2:22, 23 is fuzzy. And so I could continue.

—William Hendricksen c. 1980 and quoted in O. Palmer Robertson and Paul G. Settle, “Report of the Board of Trustees of Westminster Theological Seminary by the Special Board-Faculty Committee on Justification: Minority Report” (May 13. 1980), 8–9.

1. By faith alone.

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  1. The German raises a point in my mind that I had not considered before. Is there a difference between “only by faith” and “by only faith”? I think there is. The first leaves the idea open that we are justified only by faith, but (true) faith is never alone, whereas the second suggests that faith which is alone can justify. Luther’s German to me suggests the first.

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