Book Review: Five Views on Sanctification by Stanley N. Gundry, ed.

This book review on “Five Views on Sanctification” was well laid out and helpful in understanding differences of five Protestant views on the concept and process of sanctification.  Granted, these are five men who represent five views and others in those views may hold slightly different perspectives.  However, accepting that there are variations within the five “camps” or views, these are helpful to see differences.

There are views written from the Wesleyan, Reformed, Pentecostal, Keswick and the Augustinian-Dispensational perspectives.  The authors are Melvin E. Dieter, Anthony A. Hoekema, Stanley M. Horton, J. Robertson McQuilkin and John F. Walvoord, respectively. Each of the men are godly in their desire to please the Lord Jesus Christ. All the authors are evangelical, believe the Bible is authoritative and a restored relationship to God through faith in Christ is a person’s greatest need and delight.  From that point, there are various definitions and mechanisms for understanding sanctification. 

All of the views have strengths and principles that highlight important aspects of the character of God.   The Wesleyan view calls people to pursue the holiness of God; the Reformed view places a preponderance of the process on the sovereignty of God; the Pentecostal view looks for a second blessing by the Holy Spirit to set a committed believer apart for God; the Keswick view looks at the normal dry, complacent believer and explains that what is missing is faith, which will unleash the power of the Holy Spirit for sanctification; and finally the Augustinian-Dispensational view sees the power of God working in the life of the believer who is submitted to God’s will and plan.

I find Walvoord’s description in the Augustinian-Dispensational perspective as the compelling view.  It harmonizes the tension between divine sovereignty and free will the best.  It encapsulates more Scripture and answers more questions than the other views. He does the best work in explaining the two natures in man explaining Paul’s struggle with the flesh.  One view describes Romans 7 as a description of a person before salvation,.  Walvoord beautifully harmonizes the Scripture to show that the believer’s struggle with the sinful disposition of the flesh to rebel or act independently of God is part of the Christian way of life and can be overcome through complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are two shortfalls of the book.  First, it would have been very helpful to provide at least one chart, if not several, comparing the views as recorded in the book.  Secondly, the reviews of each of the authors critiquing a view are much too short.  They only highlighted a couple of the differences.  In this context, a five to ten page rebuttal  by each author would have been far more helpful than a one to two page review.  I highly recommend this to your study.

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