The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters.
Crossway-2016. d.w. 256pp.
Since the days of the early church, Christians have wrestled with the relationship between law and gospel. If, as the apostle Paul says, salvation is by grace and the law cannot save, what relevance does the law have for Christians today?
By revisiting the Marrow Controversy—a famous but largely forgotten eighteenth-century debate related to the proper relationship between God’s grace and our works—Sinclair B. Ferguson sheds light on this central issue and why it still matters today. In doing so, he explains how our understanding of the relationship between law and gospel determines our approach to evangelism, our pursuit of sanctification, and even our understanding of God himself.
Ferguson shows us that the antidote to the poison of legalism on the one hand and antinomianism on the other is one and the same: the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom we are simultaneously justified by faith, freed for good works, and assured of salvation.
“It’s easy to cry ‘legalist’ or ‘antinomian,’ but the realities are far subtler than we admit. Sinclair Ferguson takes an old Scottish controversy and uses it as a spotlight to illuminate our spiritual struggles today. This outstanding book untangles many a knot about God’s law and grace and powerfully reminds us that legalism and antinomianism are not opposites, but evil allies in Satan’s bitter war to dishonor the great name of Jesus Christ.”
Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
“It is no exaggeration to insist that the issue dealt with in this book is more important than any other that one might suggest. For, as Ferguson makes all too clear, the issue is the very definition of the gospel itself. The errors of antinomianism and legalism lie ready to allure unwary hucksters content with mere slogans and rhetoric. I can think of no one I trust more to explore and examine this vital subject than Sinclair Ferguson. For my part, this is one of the most important and definitive books I have read in over four decades.”
Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Table of Contents
- How a Marrow Grew
- Grace in the Gospel
- Preparation, Distortion, Poison
- Danger! Legalism
- The Order of Grace
- Suspicious Symptoms
- Faces of Antinomianism
- Causes and Cures
- The Marrow of Assurance
- How Assurance of Christ becomes Assurance of Salvation
- “Hindrances Strew All the Way”
Appendix: Thomas Boston on Faith