4 Lessons for the Bedeviling Sanctification Debate

Tim Keller | January 18, 2016


Editors’ note: The following is adapted from Tim Keller’s foreword to Sinclair Ferguson’s new book, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (Crossway, 2016). 


The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters is not just a helpful historical reflection; it’s also a tract for the times.

The Marrow Controversy was a debate within the Church of Scotland in the early 18th century. The occasion, though not the main cause, was the reprint and subsequent division over Edward Fisher’s The Marrow of Modern Divinity. The root of the dispute was the perennial difficulty of properly relating works and grace, law and gospel, not merely in our systematic theology but in our preaching and pastoral ministry and, ultimately, within our own hearts. Sinclair does a good job of recounting the Marrow Controversy in an accessible and interesting way. However, his real aim is not merely to do that. Against the background and features of that older dispute, he wants to help us understand the character of this perpetual problem—one that bedevils the church today.

He does so in the most illuminating and compelling way I know of in recent evangelical literature.

One of the…


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