I have, of late, been perusing The Trinity Foundation’s website looking at their take on the Norm Shepherd controversy at Westminster Seminary (PA). I came across a section on the site called “Horror Files” where John Robbins, the director of The Trinity Foundation, writes letters about the various goings-on in the evangelical world.
In the most recent “Horror File,” dated May 2006, he asks why men like R.C. Sproul, Sr., and D. James Kennedy haven’t spoken about issues surrounding the New Perspective on Paul, the Federal Vision and the Norm Shepherd controversy. While I haven’t read much of D. James Kennedy, nor listened to or watched his sermons, I can say a little about R.C. Sproul. I do this for the benefit of readers who may have the same question as Robbins. It’s best to let Sproul speak for himself.
“In addition to the controversies provoked by the ‘lordship salvation’ question and the ECT initiative, we have also seen serious questions raised within the Christian academic community, particularly with respect to the concept of imputation. The so-called ‘New Perspective on Paul’ has inclined some scholars to embrace a shift in the understanding of the New Testament concept of justification. Paul is seen as teaching not so much an individualistic notion of personal justification (in a legal sense), but of speaking of the change of a person’s status with respect to the covenant community.
“The ‘New Perspective’ has led some to conclude that the historic conflict between Rome and the Reformers was a case of false dilemma, in which the either/or fallacy was committed. That is, both sides erred in their understanding of the Biblical view of justification. Thus a pox is declared on both houses.
“The controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia over theologian Norm Shepherd’s teaching regarding justification remains unresolved. The number of Shepherd’s followers has increased over the years since he was dismissed from Westminster.
“With all these contemporary debates regarding aspects of the Reformation doctrine of justification, it is a welcome relief for Francis Turretin’s work on the subject to appear in this special volume drawn from his larger work, Institutes of Elenctic Theology.” (R.C. Sproul, “Introduction,” in Francis Turretin, Justification, ed., James T. Dennison, Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), xii-xiii.
You’ll note, if you click The Trinity Foundation link above, that John Robbins claims Sproul is “silent” on the New Perspective and the Shepherd controversy. My hope is that by publishing this, confusion will be cleared.