Review of Gaffin

By Faith, Not By SightMark Traphagen has started reviewing Richard Gaffin’s latest publication, By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation. This is one book that I look forward to getting my hands on. Unfortunately, what has been said concerning his critique of the NPP so far isn’t exactly encouraging — “Gaffin asserts that NPP advocates view justification almost entirely (or perhaps even just entirely) to be about ecclesiology rather than soteriology”. However, having screened that out, I am sure that Gaffin will have helpful things to say. I have greatly enjoyed all of the other books of his that I have read so far. Perhaps I will get a copy when I have finished Jakob Van Bruggen’s Paul: Pioneer for Israel’s Messiah.

Update: Part II of Mark’s review has just been posted.

Update 2: Part III here.

Update 3: Part IV

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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5 Responses to Review of Gaffin

  1. I’m surprised you don’t already have this book, Alastair, seeing as we of Gaffin’s own household have had to wait all summer for it to arrive from your side of the pond!

    He does paint the NPP with a broad brush, and admits to doing so because of the brevity of the book. What’s saddest for me is that he places Wright, by implication since he is the only NPP-associated person quoted in the book (other than Sanders and Dunn briefly), in that same “almost entirely ecclesiological” camp–which most less-informed readers will probably read as “entirely ecclesiological.” He interacts only with WSPRS and not with Wright’s later nuancing, In the last several years (and, I think, even at the Auburn Ave. Conference with Gaffin in attendance) I’ve heard Wright being careful to add that soteriology is part of Paul’s conception of justification, Wright just doesn’t think it’s the whole thing…and neither does Gaffin (see the new book).

    I’m intending for my review to mostly set out Gaffin’s scheme as it is argued in his book, with only minimal critical interaction on my part. Then I hope to write a second piece that will bring into play some of the voices out there calling for a via media between NPP and traditional Reformed views, and between Wright and Gaffin in particular.

  2. Steve Cruver says:


    Dr. Gaffin and N.T. Wright discuss Paul’s perspective on the gospel and justification at the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference in Monroe , Lousiana in 2005. There is over 12 hours of stuff. Here is the link where you can get it. I thought it might be of interest to you.

    I really enjoy your blog.

  3. Al says:


    Yes, I really should have read it by now. Actually, I have just ordered a copy, because I ought to read it before I give some talks on N.T. Wright’s theology next month. I will be giving one talk on Wright’s critics and my preparation would be quite incomplete if I did not take the time to read Gaffin.

    It is a shame that Gaffin and others have not sought to focus on establishing common ground with Wright. I think that many of their fears would be allayed if they took such an approach.

  4. Al says:


    Thanks for the information. I have actually read detailed notes from the conference (Tim Gallant’s), although I have yet to listen to the audio of the lectures themselves. I am not sure that I could justify the extra expense at the moment. Maybe I will try to find someone to borrow a copy of the lectures from.

  5. Alastair,

    If you buy Gaffin’s little book, you can save yourself the expense of the AA lectures. The book is essentially the transcribed form of those lectures with slight modifications as they were presented in several settings after the AA conference. If you have By Faith, you have not only the essence but nearly all the detail of what he said at Auburn Avenue.

    In fact, as one who has taken Dr. Gaffin’s classes, I felt like I was back in class as I read! Even his characteristic speech patterns are reproduced.

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