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Wil Owens | Gaffney, South Carolina
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The Whole Christ, by Sinclair Ferguson
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2019
Posted by: Wil Owens Ministries | more..
150+ views | 20+ clicks
The subtitle reads, “Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters.”

Immediately one recognizes Ferguson will be addressing the two false gospels of legalism and antinomianism. The former is a salvation by works error and the latter is a misunderstanding of grace error, meaning, if God does the saving then the law doesn’t matter. However, if the reader is like me, you might not readily recognize the reference “Marrow Controversy.”

The “Marrow Controversy” is a largely forgotten debate that took place in Scotland in the early eighteenth century among pastors. Adherents of the “marrow” teaching were accused of antinomianism, while the critics were accused of legalism. The main emphasis of Ferguson’s work is to demonstrate how the issues that gave rise to the forgotten “Marrow Controversy” have themselves not been forgotten. The same tendencies to drift into legalism and/or antinomianism remain in evangelicalism today. The point then is for today’s church to learn the lessons of yesterday’s church.

In essence the answer lies in our view of Christ, which explains the title. The promise of the Gospel and the assurance of the Gospel are realized when we embrace, preach, and live Christ! The proper, biblical role of the law in the unbeliever’s and believer’s life is determined by Christ. The law will not save (a correction to legalism), but it will be applied in conviction for the unbeliever and as a guide for the believer (a correction to antinomianism).

There are three significant strengths of The Whole Christ. First, Ferguson explains how the seemingly polar errors of legalism and antinomianism actually spring from the same root. The view of God that separates His person from His law lies at the root of both (p.85). Second, Ferguson’s application of gospel truth to the controversy’s issues are insightful and helpful for both biblical evangelism and sanctification. The law cannot be presented as necessary to precede Christ in salvation (legalism), neither can it be discarded in the coming to and following of Christ (antinomianism). It is by Christ we are saved, and by Christ we are enabled to live pleasing to God. Third, Ferguson demonstrates that Christ is to be freely offered to all as the gospel is to be proclaimed to all (ch5)!

The only weakness may only to apply specifically to me, an individual reader. I found the historical material too cumbersome and detailed. It was difficult at times to make it through the long quotes and explanations. It is definitely not for the average reader. Possibly a great read for the lover of history who also loves theology.

Category:  Book Reviews

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