A few months ago some back and forth with Rob Schlapfer, owner of The Discerning Reader, appeared on my blog. I thought that while DR was taking a decidedly non-Reformed direction, at least the personal animosity expressed by Mr. Schlapfer had subsided. Unfortunately, my hopes on that level diminished when he sent me a note echoing the personal nastiness associated with the well known writer of ad-hominem, Paul Owen. I ignored it. But today someone pointed out that it seems the description of The God Who Justifies has been changed at the DR website. Now, I know that not everyone at DR has jumped onto the “Calvinists are nasty people, we are not Reformed, NT Wright rocks!” bandwagon, and I’m thankful for those folks. And the description had always contained a note that (just as the book says and explains in the text) I did not deal with NPism nor with any system based upon the fundamental denial of the inerrancy and ultimate authority of Scripture. I still happen to believe that what we have taught about justification is very much the heart of the gospel, and unless someone knows that first, the dangers of these other views will seem like nothing more than nit-picking by theologians with way too much time on their hands. But unless we are mistaken, the new description has absorbed a blatantly false accusation that has appeared repeatedly in SchlÃ¤pfer’s statements. We quote the relevant portion as it appears now on the website:
Advanced students will want to ponder the more exegetical “less theological” arguments from contemporary New Testament scholars such as Tom Wright, Paul Barnett, Don Garlington and others. In fact, the real weakness of the book is that it fails to address the issues that are truly on the forefront of today’s theological discussions. One would hope that a future revision of The God Who Justifies will do so “through careful exegesis of the texts, as opposed to merely thoughtful citations from the confessions and theologians of the Reformed past.”
Those of you who have read the book must, at this point, be winching your jaw back into place. Anyone who has read the book knows that the reviewer (Schlapfer) is grossly misrepresenting the text itself. Why? Because unless it is Wright, it isn’t exegesis, or so he has come to believe. Anyone who can read the chapters on Romans 3-4, or James 2, and conclude they are “thoughtful citations from the confessions and theologians of the Reformed past” rather than exegetical in nature is obviously not dealing with reality, but is clearly agenda-driven. Let the reader discern!