Norman Shepherd's New Book

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by ww, Apr 16, 2009.

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  1. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

  2. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Probably even worse. Looks like Shepherd will continue affirming justification by faith alone but redefine faith to include our obedience.

    The regular list of endorsements from Federal Vision proponents was no shock, but there were a couple I groaned to see. I guess I should have expected John Frame, but it still makes me shake my head. However, I was really taken aback to see the OT professor from the Canadian Reformed Theological College recommending it. I'm afraid that the foundation of Schilderian covenant theology may leave many CanRC ministers open to Shepherd's teachings.
  3. Julio Martinez Jr

    Julio Martinez Jr Puritan Board Freshman

    This at least opens the door for further evaluation(s), considering the buoying Federal Vision. My denomination has judged it already, though I want to see a more catholic adjudication of the FV and its relationship with Shepherd-ism (roughly speaking). I know I will be purchasing this book.
  4. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't know as much as most of you here do about this, but what does he say that doesn't agree with what Piper says, that salvation is by faith alone but the faith that saves is never alone? I know somebody from WTS who likes him who says NS does not teach anything James does not teach- faith without works is a dead faith. I heard that back during the controversy the WTS faculty and board both voted overwhelmingly in his favor. The (WTS grads) people I know who like him will deny fervently that he is FV.
  5. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Didn't he actually speak at one of the Auburn Avenue conferences a few years back?
  6. dannyhyde

    dannyhyde Puritan Board Sophomore


    Are the endorsements online? I don't want to waste my money just to see it. Van Dam also wrote a couple of articles praising a lecture Shepherd did at a recent conference...this just goes to the heart of what many of us have been saying for years: if the CanRC and URC are ever going to unite, we have to have real theological discussion.
  7. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Andrew Sandlin's blog has the endorsement information (scroll down to Feb. 12th), as does the book's posting on Lulu.

    Do you know if the Shepherd/FV teachings are being addressed in any URC-CanRC discussions?
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  8. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Judging by the many endorsements from those of the Federal Vision persuasion I am guessing that it isn't a departure or repentance from his stance in "The Call of Grace".

    Dr. Van Dam is very careful in his endorsement but one wonders why a book like is even needed? Unless the Reformation was unclear about justification and (thus) our confessions inadequate, Mr. Shepherd's formulations only add confusion to the debate.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  9. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    No he was slated to speak at the 2002 conference but couldn't attend for some reason and was replaced by John Barach.

    -----Added 4/16/2009 at 12:00:38 EST-----

    Looks like a "who's who" of FV advocates.
  10. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Norman Shepard is a heretic.
  11. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    So's anyone else who disagrees with me. :)
  12. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment but the dude is evasive enough for the Church Courts who may have declared him such to actually come out with such a pronouncement. :rolleyes:
  13. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    We must be very careful in labeling someone with the "h" word. I warned someone on another thread yesterday for doing that in reference to F.F. Bruce. But we must be careful not, as private "citizens" of the church, to make such a pronouncement for something that is generally reserved for the church courts.

    I don't like Shepherd one bit, nor will defend him. But be very careful with the "h" word.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  14. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate you wanting to warn people about using the word "heretic" flippantly, but in Shepard's case (along with all the other teachers of the FV) one does not need to wait on a church court to pronounce something heretical that is clearly heretical.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2009
  15. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

  16. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    The book is only 98 pages and that much is his effort to defend himself of heresy.

    I don't think so!
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2009
  17. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The danger in such an approach is the pronouncement of heresy becomes little more than individual opinion. In such a case, it does not help the cause, but rather robs the word of its meaning and significance.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  18. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My church courts have not deemed Shepherd a heretic. Until every denomination finds him a heretic, it's only really spreading a bad name. Or am I subject to the rulings of the RPCUS? :confused: I guess the board has probably done so officially, so that suffices for me?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2009
  19. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    In the case of Martin Luther an individual opinion was quite effective.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2009
  20. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Interesting comments, David. This is part the fractured state of Protestantism. Perhaps if we would have a joint statement from NAPARC, that would go a long way to provide unity on this dangerous teaching.

    Let me also apologize if I am being too harsh or reactionary. Part of this is in response to my own sin in past years, as I was far too impetuous in calling someone a "heretic,' and often with only myself as an "authority." If we are talking about Arianism or Nestorianism, that is one thing; some of these others are more tricky because of the church court situations. And part of the problem is that Shepherd did not stay to "face the music" in his own denomination when his trial was coming up. More should be done, In my humble opinion, when ministers jump ship in order to avoid discipline (and more should be done with regard to the receiving body). :2cents:
  21. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I just went back and reviewed the PB Rules statement on the FV:

    In light of this, I am removing my former "official warning" and am now putting forward the statement about refraining from the "h" word in an unofficial capacity. Consider it to be more along the lines of a friendly rejoinder. :)
  22. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Titus 3:10--the only place in the Bible with the word "heretic", and then in the King James version--is also translated as "divisive person" or "person who stirs up division". So I think that the proper usage of the term would be not someone who is wrong theologically, but someone who is trying to cause dissension among brethren--so he could hypothetically be completely right. However, if he's causing dissension, Paul advises that he be rejected after two warnings as he is "self-condemned".

    The term "heresy" has, I think, been hijacked by the Roman Catholic tradition to give them more leverage against their opponents. We need not follow their example.
  23. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    My friend Wes White (one of the most knowledgeable people on planet earth concerning Shepherd) has read the book already. He said it is pretty much more of the same. He will be writing a blog post about it soon. He says that Shepherd does not interact with any of his critics. There are approximately 2 footnotes in the entire book. It is a sign of his position that he has to self-publish, because P&R probably refused to publish him. Wes says it is the same old confusion of justification and sanctification that he has always advocated.
  24. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    What he said.

    And if only 6 out of the 8 largest Reformed denominations label him a heretic do we still have to wait? ;-)
  25. chbrooking

    chbrooking Puritan Board Junior

    While I can appreciate the restraint urged, and the respect for church courts, it seems that Paul's words in Galatians 1:8-9 are to be assessed by the laity too -- if the Reformation meant anything. And I believe the Bereans were commended, not for waiting to see if their elders agreed, but for examining the scriptures themselves--though I'm sure their elders were right there with them.

    As I said, I do think we need to exercise restraint -- not be too hasty about labeling someone or something heretical, but that restraint does not, In my humble opinion require us to wait on church courts to decide, else we would never leave a heretical church or denomination.

    We ought to judge charitably where possible, and "bring back a sinner from his wandering" where possible (James 5:20). But once it becomes clear that a position is another gospel, which is not a gospel at all, then I think we ought to oppose it vigorously. And "heresy" is not too strong or inflammatory for what is truly sectarian and at odds with orthodoxy. Let's not treat it the same way we treat more legitimate disagreements, such as one's position on baptism or church government. We aren't talking about a denominational difference. We are talking about a different gospel altogether -- and it's not one.
  26. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Actually, Clark, I'd probably argue there weren't any Berean elders at that time -- if it was Paul's initial visit, it would be too new! Perhaps they were ordained soon after, though.

    I have no objections to the responses -- I only wish to caution for restraint in the use of the term "heretic." Too often it is issued flippantly (as was allude to above), and simply using labels does not advance an argument, In my humble opinion. But everyone is completely correct to warn against the dangerous teaching of Shepherd, et al. I am quibbling over the use of a word, not against the intent behind it.

    That said, especially with the issue of church courts, I have no problem with a court voicing a decision over a particular teaching and labeling it as dangerous, etc. But that is not the same as having a trial with regard to the one teaching it. Once again, this is a problem with the fractured nature of Protestantism, but how can a court with no jurisdiction over a man hold a trial in which the person does not even have an opportunity to defend himself? The OPC, in all fairness, did attempt to do this (and rightfully so), but Shepherd simply fled to another denomination. I do not wish to drag this off topic with polity questions, but the idea of original jurisdiction should also come into play, In my humble opinion.

    But we are all agreed as to the nature of this teaching. My words were only cautionary. I shall say nothing more on that issue.
  27. chbrooking

    chbrooking Puritan Board Junior

    Well said. Good point for investigation on the Bereans, too. Thanks.
  28. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Its more complicated but to give a little idea.

    To say that saving faith results in or produces Good works in a person is different than saying Saving faith and works are the same or of the same thing.

    Piper's statement is not helpful in this time. It can be seen as true or not.

    Godly Works are the reflex action or manifestation that faith is in a person.

    Faith that does not result in a person producing fruit or good works is not saving.

    But to say faith and works come together at regeneration is confusing.

    It can make it seem we must have works to be converted.

    Though we say it is all of grace, even the works are a result of grace, it is best to make a clear distinction. To discriminate the separation.

    As by grace, faith is imparted and we are regenerated, which gives one a new nature that desires to repent and do works fit for repentance.

    John Murray would say repentance is not what brings faith, but comes after and springs from faith.

    The Arminian may not make this distinction, thinking their repenting is what causes God to convert them. Of course they would also say it is their exercise of their own faith is what causes God to regenerate them also.
    This is why I think a knowledgeable Arminian is worse and a false gospel as well. Just as Charles Ryrie would say the addition of making Christ Lord of your life to saving faith is adding works to saving faith and is a false Gospel. His proof; else why would we have carnal christians?

    To me this is heresy, whether any church has the conviction to say so or not.
    I will not pronounce that he is not a christian because no church I know of has excommunicated him or made the pronouncement.
    But I can use the word heretic and another gospel, without have the keys of the kingdom officially turned by a church.

    Also Marrow Man, should my denomination pronounce one a heretic, though other denoms do not I am at liberty to say he is a heretic to my church.

    I agree for care and not using it for simple disagreement, but for a schismatic, which I think disp Amrminians are, it is legitimate.

    Would some of you agree or maybe make this more clear on the FV distinction from Faith without works is dead.
  29. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    It was no surprise to see Peter Leithart's endorsement on the back, but you would think that after only temporarily evading justice at the presbytery level he would be more circumspect about when and where he attaches his name to a work that clearly points to his continued rejection of the PCA's stand on the issues.

    It is also no surprise to read that the subtitle reads "Justification Beginning with James". It's as if these guys are completely (intentionally) oblivious to the the many good harmonizations that have been written in the past regarding the relationship between Paul and James teaching on faith and justification.
  30. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Lane, I take a pretty good set of jibes about my seminary of origin (many of them fully deserved). However, other than friendship and the inevitable pressures of cognitive dissonance, why did YOUR seminary tolerate the Shepherd mess so long and give him so much support??? Frankly, much of the backstory is lost to me as an outsider.
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