Speaker delves into Reformation doctrine at Christian Ministries Lecture Series
Riverside, Calif. (Oct. 18, 2017)—Biblical teachers and preachers need to reclaim key Reformation insights, but they need to do it in a biblical balanced manner, Dr. Douglas J. Moo told an audience at California Baptist University.
Moo, a professor of the New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois and chair of the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version, spoke at the School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series on Oct. 17. Moo has written numerous books, including commentaries on Romans, Galatians, Colossians and James.
“The Reformation ‘faith-alone’ slogan is built on passages on which Paul claims that justification comes not through works but through faith,” Moo said.
Moo said that scholars do wrestle on how to complement the writings of Paul with those of another biblical author, James, who emphasized good works. Believers need to look at the circumstances of the two authors, Moo added. Paul faced the Jewish tendency to put too much emphasis on human works. James reacted to people who heard Paul talking about faith alone and used it as an excuse for not living the Christian life fully.
“We need to guard against that ‘faith alone’ becoming a faith that is alone, a faith that does not adequately tie into works,” Moo said. “I think that’s what James is doing. His point is saying genuine, biblical faith is a faith that will work.”
The Reformation view on justification is that it occurs the moment a person places faith in Christ’s atoning work, a view Moo held for a number of years. While working on a commentary on Galatians, however, Moo said his viewpoint on justification evolved.
It seemed Paul was saying that believers await the righteousness for which they hope (Galatians 5:5), giving righteousness a future focus, Moo explained.
According to Scripture, therefore, there seem to be past and future elements of justification, but both occur through faith alone, Moo said.
“We need to be balanced teachers and proclaimers of this truth who say, yes, you are justified by faith alone. If it rests on us, we’re all in trouble. It rests on God and what He’s done in Christ for us,” Moo said. “Proclaim that and at the same time emphasize now that you are enjoying the benefits of that relationship in Christ and your justified status. Remember that you are now in the process of being transformed.”